The importance of the decision to appoint GCHQ’s first female director


Anne Keast-Butler is currently serving as Deputy Director General at MI5 and will be the first woman to hold the top position at GCHQ following her thirty years in the national security field.

Sir Jeremy Fleming announced in January that he would step down after six years in the role and commented on Anne’s appointment that he had worked with Anne for decades and thinks she is a brilliant choice with deep experience of intelligence and security in today’s technology-driven world.  Whilst on secondment in Whitehall, she helped to launch the National Cyber Security Programme.

The Foreign Secretary said:

“Anne has an impressive track record at the heart of the UK’s national security network, helping to counter threats posed by terrorists, cyber-criminals and malign foreign powers.

“She is the ideal candidate to lead GCHQ, and Anne will use her vast experience to help keep the British public safe.”

Alongside its vital intelligence work GCHQ operates the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) which forms a key part of the UK’s cyber security mission.  Another influential female in the cyber space is Lindy Cameron CB OBE who is chief executive officer at the National Cyber Security Centre.

The NCSC helps protect the UK’s critical services from cyber-attacks, manages major incidents, and improves the underlying security of the UK Internet through technological improvement and advice to citizens and organisations.

It supports the most critical organisations in the UK, the wider public sector, industry and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).  When incidents do occur, the NCSC provides effective incident response to minimise harm to the UK, helps with recovery, and learns lessons for the future.

The NCSC introduced the pioneering Suspicious Email Reporting Service, which allows the public to forward suspect emails to  In the first four months following the introduction of the service, more than two million reports were received from the public, leading to the removal of over 9,000 scams and 22,000 URLs.

Anne Keast-Butler believes that GCHQ’s mission to keep the UK safe is as inspiring today as it was when it was founded more than one hundred years ago.  She acknowledged that GCHQ staff have worked tirelessly to tackle the ongoing threat of ransomware, the impact of which costs the UK dearly.

Dee-Anne Bruce, Cyber Strategy & Policy Managing Consultant for Kaze Consulting  and Co-Founder of the Women’s Cyber Circle was delighted at the appointment of a female into such a high-profile role.  She said:

“Having these critical senior leadership roles held by Anne and Lindy will hopefully increase women’s interest in cyber roles and encourage female students into considering qualifications and careers within cyber security. As a Co-Founder and member of a network of women passionate to pursue equity and equal representation in cyber organisations, Anne’s appointment is great news.”

The Women’s Cyber Circle aims to inspire, empower and support women to thrive in the Cyber Profession.  If you would like to get involved, you can join this network via

According to Cybersecurity Ventures research published in late 2022, only 25% of women hold cyber security roles globally.  This figure is predicted to reach 30 percent by 2025; and 35 percent by 2031.

As the research also highlighted that the global cybersecurity workforce was short of circa 3.5 million workers in 2021, there is still a huge need to promote the roles to all young people and encourage retraining to older employees who could transfer skills into the sector.


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