Cyberterrorism researcher beats off tough competition to win PwC Prize

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David Mair, a postgraduate research student within the Department of Criminology, recently took part in a PwC presentation competition and beat off tough competition to win the top prize.

PwC had invited Swansea University students to take part in their presentation competition with the chance to meet one of PwC’s directors and compete for a £200 cash prize.

David Mair group

The final saw David, aged 28 and originally from Glasgow, up against students drawn from across the university.  David impressed PwC staff in the initial stages of the contest by constructing a ten-minute presentation on the changing nature of business, as part of Swansea University’s Careers Week.

The final involved each competitor giving a presentation followed by a question and answer session on the changing trends in business and how these changes represent both threats and opportunities for Swansea enterprises. 

David’s presentation focused on cybercrime, which is closely linked to his PhD research.  The presentations were assessed by an expert panel of PwC staff, including Scarlett Seagar, Student Recruitment Officer and Ian Clark, Director of PwC Swansea.

Scarlett Seager of PwC stated: “The calibre of the students’ presentations was very high and it was very tough selecting the top three to go forward to the final on 16th February 2015. Our winner, David, performed exceptionally well in the final.”

David Mair

Of the experience, David said, “This was a fantastic opportunity to develop presentation skills within an industry environment.  Fifteen minutes really isn’t a lot of time to deliver a presentation on a really broad topic, so it was a real challenge to make sure I had a sufficiently in-depth, yet succinct presentation for PwC.  Cyber threats are an often talked about, but little understood, topic so this was a great chance to explain what is happening in cyberspace and how we can best protect our businesses from the dangers that exist online. 


“ I am absolutely thrilled to have won, and hope that this is the start of a collaborative process with PwC on research into cyber threats.  I am really pleased to have taken part in this competition and would recommend all Criminology students to sign up for these events when they occur in the future!  I’d like to thank PwC and Swansea University for organising this competition and providing the platform for such an interesting and worthwhile venture.”

Associate Professor Stuart Macdonald, David’s PhD supervisor said, “This is a tremendous achievement, which demonstrates the practical importance and impact of the criminological research being conducted at Swansea. I would like to congratulate David, and the other finalists, for presenting work of such a high calibre.”

David initially studied psychology at Glasgow Caledonia University and graduated with a B.Sc Hons in 2010, he then undertook a Postgraduate Students Awards Agency Scotland funded Masters at the University of Abertay in Dundee in Intelligence and Security, and gained an M.Sc with distinction in 2012, and then began a Wales Doctoral Training Centre Ph.D in Swansea in 2012.

Asked why he came to Swansea University David said: “While studying for my Masters degree, I became aware of the phenomenon of terrorist groups using the internet to fulfil their aims and ambitions.  I thought that this would be a very interesting and relevant research topic.  I was very pleased to discover that the Cyberterrorism Project at Swansea University was seeking a PhD candidate at that time to research on exactly that topic, so was quick to put in an application.  Having been shortlisted and invited for an interview, I visited Swansea for the first time and fell in love with the area.  I remember walking along the beach at sunset after my interview thinking that Swansea was somewhere I could happily live for a number of years.

“ With the benefit of hindsight, I can confidently say that moving to Swansea was amongst the best decisions of my life.  I live ten minutes away from the beach, in a city with excellent night life and work for an institution with an incredible research environment.  The opportunities I have had since coming to Swansea, including presenting research to NATO COE-DAT and working within the UK Home Office, are unlike any I would have had elsewhere.”