Stewart McLaren Pragma Interview Featured Image

Pragma Names Former Barclays Head of Operational and Cyber Resilience as CEO

Pragma has appointed Stewart McLaren as Chief Executive Officer for the newly established Pragma Europe which has been set up in the United Kingdom, with its head office in Canary Wharf London, and an operations centre in the Midlands north of Birmingham. 

Prior to Pragma, Stewart most recently consulted for Deloitte in London and before that held a number of senior positions at Barclays and Credit Suisse including head of Operational and Cyber Resilience. In his new position, he will be leading Pragma’s expansion in the UK and Europe by building a strong cybersecurity team and portfolio of cybersecurity services to support the company’s clients within the region. 

How does your experience in cyber and operational resilience for global banks align with the needs of Pragma’s clients? 

Before working in banking, I started up a number of successful businesses in Birmingham, so I have extensive experience and empathy with start-ups and SME’s where agility, cost containment and customer focus determine whether you sink or swim. Running your own business does give you an understanding of pressure from customers, staff and regulators. 

Working for large global companies gave me the ability to work all around the world, getting exposure to different cultures and different ways to approach issues and problems. I was in Japan during the Fukushima nuclear incident and developed the global Incident Response for the entire organisation, and over the years have managed numerous disasters, breaches and cyber incidents providing more hands-on experience than if I had been with a smaller organisation.   

What is your key focus for Pragma Europe right now? 

Pragma has a number of very large existing global insurance clients, established over several years in Asia, and expanding services and capability to support these clients into and across Europe is our primary focus. Having multiple global locations also provides the opportunity for a simple, lights always on / follow the sun / 24/7 service model, so we are also providing out of hours support for Asia as well as servicing existing Asia client projects.

A key priority is the provision of Cyber Risk, Cloud Security, Forensics and Operational Resilience consultancy and support to UK based firms where regulatory requirements concerning outsourced Cloud service oversight and GDPR breach and Incident Response, are very stringent with specific nuances emerging due to Brexit and new regulatory requirements.

What are the latest cybersecurity/regulatory risk trends in the UK? 

Unfortunately, cybercriminals have been taking advantage of the increased vulnerabilities associated with the increased number of staff working remotely, so there is a huge increase in ransomware, virus exploitation and online fraud. Office 365 vulnerabilities are a huge concern in the UK at the moment and we are seeing these growing consistently in line with global experience, especially from our Australian business.

UK financial regulators are increasingly focusing on specific requirements concerning Cyber and Operational Resilience, with new Consultation and Discussion papers requiring very stringent approaches to Outsourcing and Operational Resilience, Outsourcing to the Cloud, Outsourcing and Third-party Risk Management, and Operational Resilience: impact tolerances for important business services. 

Where are you located and why?

We have been in discussion with CSIT, the UK’s Innovation and Knowledge Centre (IKC) for secure information technologies, based at Queen’s University Belfast, for some time and are jointly supporting an £800k UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funded research programme. As well as industry-leading R&D, CSIT also has a very strong local Cyber ecosystem which is why Pragma incorporated its business initially in Belfast.

Operationally most of our global clients have either global HQ or regional offices, based in the City, in or around Lloyd’s of London, so having a base nearby was an important consideration. We have established our London base in Canary Wharf on Level 39, One Canada Square, and are co-located with the Department for International Trade’s UK Cyber Demonstration Centre.

To support our non-London based customers, and to facilitate the ability to attend on-site at short notice, we have established our Operations Centre in the midlands providing full UK coverage between centres.

What can UK clients expect to see from Pragma Europe that is different from its competitors?

Pragma Europe is a highly agile and responsive specialist in Cyber, Cloud Security, Operational and Third-Party Risk, Forensics and Incident Response. Having our very established global customer base provides access to a depth of experience earned through the hands-on response and incident management of hundreds of successfully recovered global incidents. With access to a global core team of over 20 technical specialists, and being truly Cloud-native in its operations, Pragma Europe has the ability to leverage the latest insights and technical opportunities gained from this large global footprint in supporting its UK client base.

About Pragma Europe

Pragma was founded in 2016 by two cybersecurity veterans who want to create bespoke and fairly priced solutions. Since then, the consultancy has grown rapidly; with offices in the UK, Singapore, Vietnam and Australia. Pragma Europe Limited is led by Stewart McLaren and an experienced team with strong capabilities in the four services we offer; Cyber and Regulatory Consultancy, Incident Response, Cloud Security And Security Testing.


August 26, 2020

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