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Former government CIO John Suffolk joins Huawei as head of cybersecurity

Kathleen Hall

Former government CIO John Suffolk has joined China-based IT company Huawei as global head of cybersecurity.

Suffolk previously worked in the civil service for seven years, holding the position of chief information officer and senior information risk owner since 2006. "Security was a core part of my thinking, planning and execution during this time," he said in a blog post.

Under civil service business appointments rules, Suffolk applied to David Cameron for permission to accept the Huawei appointment in February, which was approved by the prime minister last month. He will join the company on 1 October, as conditions of his acceptance of the Huawei role mean he must wait for six months after leaving the civil service.

Other conditions include no involvement with work relating to the government for two years, including lobbying, and not giving any government endorsements of his new employer’s services. A Cabinet Office spokesman was keen to add that an “unprecedented number of conditions” are attached to Suffolk’s appointment.

In the new position Suffolk will report directly to Huawei's CEO and will be in charge of developing the company's cybersecurity assurance strategy and system, and managing and supervising its implementation.

"My role will be to ensure that our cybersecurity assurance system integrates end-to-end cybersecurity into solutions, covering our cloud computing solutions, pipes/telecommunications and all devices from mobile broadband to PDAs where appropriate, the customer-oriented business processes and the whole ICT supply chain," he said.

Ken Hu, deputy chairman of Huawei, welcomed the appointment, citing Suffolk's wealth of experience as a key benefit to the company. "This will enhance Huawei's capability in addressing security challenges, and further support our proven track record and reputation among customers in an increasingly complex environment," said Hu.

The news follows reports earlier this year that London Underground could receive a mobile network from Huawei, with suggestions that the Chinese company was the only provider in the running for the contract. A spokeswoman from Transport for London said talks with suppliers are ongoing.

In addition to his role as government CIO, Suffolk has previously worked as director general of the UK Criminal Justice Transformation Programme and, before that, managing director of the Britannia Building Society. Suffolk has also worked as consultant to the world since 2010, advising governments on how IT can be used to transform public sector services.


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