Profiles of the Guest Speakers


Ali E. Abdallah:
Head of Computing Research, Birmingham City University, UK
Ali E. Abdallah is a Professor of Computer Science and Head of Computing Research at Birmingham City University, A Lebanese University graduate with MSc and DPhil in Computer Science awards from the University of Oxford, UK. His current research focuses on engineering open trustworthy platforms and systems. He has extensive experience, working with interdisciplinary stakeholders, in capturing requirements, modelling complex systems, designing dependable architectures and integrating usable security solutions in business, government and scientific environments. A champion of digital transformation leading technology partnership with Birmingham City Council in EU funded projects for the co-creation of smart city innovations. He is a member of the UK "Information Assurance Advisory Council"and he has advised both UK and US governments on topics such as digital skills, information assurance and cyber strategies.


Maya Chehab:
Senior Manager, EY
Maya is a Senior Manager specializing in Identity and Access Management (IAM) at EY (UK and EU). She holds a PhD in Information Security and a senior research fellowship at Birmingham City University. She has extensive experience in leading the delivery of large technical Identity & Access Management programmes starting with defining a strategy all the way to implementing its various dimensions.


Ali El Hajj:
Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, American University of Beirut
Prof. Ali El Hajj assumes at AUB the positions of Chairperson of the Academic Assessment Unit, and Director of the General Education Program. His research and teaching activities include Antennas Design and Software Development.


Wael Elrifai:
Sr. Director for Enterprise Solutions at Pentaho
Wael Elrifai is an avid technologist and management strategist, bridging the divide between IT and business. He has been working in high performance computing, machine learning, the broader artificial intelligence field and the Big Data ecosystem for the past decade. Wael has served corporate and government clients cross North America, Europe, the Middle East, and East Asia across a number of industry verticals and has presented at conferences worldwide. With graduate degrees in both Electrical Engineering and Economics he is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery, the Special Interest Group for Artificial Intelligence, the Royal Economic Society, and Chatham House.


Paul Kearney:
Professor of Cyber Security, Birmingham City University
Paul Kearney is Chief Security Researcher in the Security Futures Practice, BT (UK) and Professor of Cyber Security (part-time) at Birmingham City University. He joined BT in 1997 having previously gained a BSc and PhD in Theoretical Physics and worked in the defence aerospace and personal electronics industries. Paul has specialised in information security and business continuity research since 2001. His current research foci are cyber security analytics, IoT security and smart cities. External activities include the steering board of the European Cyber Security Organisation’s Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda working group, the Horizon 2020 Protection and Security Advisory Group and the IoT Security Foundation.


Edwin Lau:
OECD Public Governance and Territorial Development Directorate
Edwin Lau is Head of the Reform of the Public Sector Division in the OECD Public Governance and Territorial Development Directorate. His division helps countries improve the responsiveness of their governments and their relations with citizens and business through work on public sector innovation, digital government, open data, human resources management, and risk management. In particular, he oversees the statistical publication, Government at a Glance, and the Observatory for Public Sector Innovation (OPSI). A US national, he worked in the United States Office of Management and Budget in the 1990s. Prior to being named Head of Division at the OECD, Edwin was the Deputy Division Head of the Budgeting and Public Expenditures where he had responsibility for issues of budget transparency, performance budgeting, budgeting in the health sector, and reform of fiscal institutions. He established the Public Governance Review Programme in 2007, and worked closely with the Irish Prime Minister’s Office, the Estonian Government Office (Chancellery), and the Finnish Ministry of Finance to deliver advice on public sector modernisation to those countries. He also established and led the OECD’s project on e-government from 2000-2007. Edwin holds a Master's degree from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and a diplôme d'études approfondies from Science Po in Paris.


Hanifah Shah:
Associate Dean and Professor of Information Systems in the Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment at Birmingham City University
Hanifa Shah is Associate Dean and Professor of Information Systems in the Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment at Birmingham City University. She has a PhD from the University of Aston in Birmingham and a Masters from Cambridge University. Over the past 25 years she has provided academic leadership via posts in Computing and Engineering Faculties at Aston, Staffordshire and Birmingham City University, and a Visiting Professorship at the University of Manchester (Manchester Business School). Through secondments and consultancy projects with industry, she has an in-depth understanding of business and has forged university-industry links and partnerships for research, enterprise and teaching. She has been successful in securing significant amounts of funding for projects from industry and research councils. Her research interests and Phd supervisions include information systems and their development, knowledge management, enterprise architectures & enterprise systems, digital transformation, business process change & smart cities, IT professional & leadership development, research methods and academic qualifications through work-based learning.


Peter Sommer:
Professor of Digital Forensics, Birmingham City University, and Public Policy Consultant to UK Government
Peter Sommer combines academia, expert witness activity in the national and international courts in cases involving among others, cybercrime, fraud, corruption, terrorism and defamation with public policy consultancy for the OECD, United Nations, UK Government and Parliament on such topics as cybercrime, cyberwarfare, digital evidence and digital signatures. He is the author of the Digital Evidence Handbook.