Ciaran Martin CB CBE

Ciaran Martin CB CBE

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Founding Chief Executive, National Cyber Security Centre

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Ciaran Martin is Professor of Practice in the Management of Public Organisations at Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government. He was the founding Chief Executive of the National Cyber Security Centre, part of GCHQ. He has worked directly with five Prime Ministers, and a variety of Senior Ministers from three political parties.


Ciaran Martin founded the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and headed it for the first four years of its existence. Currently he holds the position of Professor of Practice in the Management of Public Organisations at Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government. He also advises several private sector organisations on cybersecurity strategies and is one of the leading global authorities in the field of cyber security policy.

The NCSC, part of GCHQ, where Ciaran served as an executive board member for six and a half years, is regarded as the world leader among public authorities for cybersecurity. The International Telecommunications Union now ranks the UK as the number one country for cybersecurity because of the NCSC’s work.

Under Ciaran’s leadership, the NCSC took the lead in managing more than two thousand nationally significant cyber-attacks against the UK, including the so-called Wannacry attack against the NHS.

He led the detection work that prompted the Government to call out, for the first time, cyber aggression from Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea, and helped the NCSC transform the Government’s relationship with business on cybersecurity.

At the CBI’s cybersecurity conference, he launched a board toolkit with five essential questions corporate leaders needed to understand. As a global cybersecurity leader, Ciaran has travelled to more than thirty countries on five continents building partnerships with Government, national security and corporate leaders. At the NCSC he was a much sought-after guest of the UK’s major corporate boards.

Ciaran believes the essence of good cybersecurity is demystifying a complex subject and finding a way and a language for the specialists to engage with the leadership. That becomes more and more important as new technologies and technology platforms – 5G, the Internet of Things, quantum – become the new reality.

Ciaran is also a twenty-three-year veteran of the UK Government, working directly with five Prime Ministers and a variety of senior Ministers from three political parties. He has held senior positions at HM Treasury and the Cabinet Office as well as GCHQ. He was head of the Cabinet Secretary’s Office and led the official negotiations that led to the agreed terms and rules for the Scottish independence referendum.

Ciaran’s work, led to him being appointed CB in the 2020 New Year’s Honour’s list. 

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