Our popular Meet the client series shines the spotlight on the companies we support with legal services. This time, we talk to Barry Searle, founder and Director of Training at Intqual Pro, the UK’s largest provider of cyber security training and internationally recognised intelligence qualifications. Barry tells us what inspired him to found Intqual Pro and the inside story on their incredible growth over the past five years.
Name and job title
Barry Searle, Director of Training
What is it your company does?
Intqual Pro is the UK’s largest provider of cyber security training and intelligence qualifications. Our USP is that we’re the only intelligence training company provide to offer internationally recognised qualifications for all our training programmes.
Who do you work with?
We work with some of the most important security, intelligence and infrastructure bodies in the UK: National Crime Agency, National Grid, Financial Fraud Action UK, numerous local authorities and trading standards departments. We’ve trained the workforces of major financial service companies like HSBC and Barclays in cyber-security thanks to our popular Cyber Stars programme, which has been delivered in 25 countries. We’ve also recently delivered training to Facebook. Our training courses and accredited qualifications blend classroom-based training with platform/online learning and immersive film-based education. Everything is linked to national vocational standards and comes with built-in assessment.
How long have you been in business and how has your business grown?
I set up Intqual Pro five years ago, in November 2014. Myself and our Operations Manager Mark both have military intelligence backgrounds – we were previously trainers at the Defence Intelligence College. The programmes we led for the military were incredibly well-received, so I decided to leave and set up my own company. We offered one training course to begin with, and now we have a portfolio of 19 intelligence courses for clients to choose from. We’re proud to be the first non-university to offer a Masters-level qualification in intelligence management. We employ 13 staff full-time, and work with specialist contractors in a number of other business areas. Our film production partner, for instance, specialise in educational learning for the intelligence sector.
What inspired you to start your business?
I’d just started a family and I was looking for more flexible ways to work. While working at the college, I knew there was potentially a sizeable market for intelligence and cyber-security training, as we were getting calls from police and local authorities to see if anyone in the private sector offered this kind of training. I began conversations with the cyber security qualifications awarding body Pro Qual, which were very encouraging. Once I’d made the decision to go it alone, I set up the Intqual Pro training centre from my garage. Now we have three offices across the UK, two in Bedfordshire and one recently acquired in Warrington.
What have been the biggest recent challenges you have faced and how did you overcome them?
Meeting client need, and adapting our products and services to deliver what our clients want, is probably our biggest ongoing challenge. We sold a lot of our courses early on, especially Cyber Stars and our Level 4 intelligence qualifications. The next hurdle we faced was how to move clients on to higher level training and qualifications, to avoid losing them to a competitor. We developed Level 6 qualifications in intelligence and a film-based refresher course for Cyber Stars as a response. It’s important for our business to keep services and products fresh and relevant, and keep our customers moving through the training cycle. We also need to plan ahead of the government’s regulatory cycle: the banking sector have now invested heavily in cyber-security training and next, it’s the turn of utilities and critical national infrastructure. You learn where to focus your efforts and where not to.
What are your hopes/goals for the next 1-3 years?
We have recently acquired an apprenticeship delivery company, so are excited about growing our presence in the apprenticeships delivery space for intelligence, security, fraud and risk.
I consult for private sector clients including HSBC Business Banking, advising businesses on secure business growth: for example, how to grow from a £5-10m company to £20-50m. This consultancy arm of the business is one we’re really keen to develop, as we very much enjoy supporting other companies with their growth.
We have high hopes for our new cyber platform that regularly checks and monitors employee skills by email and provide insights to L&D teams via a dashboard. This innovative product will mean businesses won’t fall into the trap of training people constantly: instead, they will have access to regularly updated data on who needs training and when. Companies will also be able to show regulators what their cyber-exposure is at any given time.
What has it been like to work with Harper James?
The business development team were really efficient and clear about how things would work and our working relationship with Adam, our solicitor, is really positive. I’d been talked down to by solicitors in the past, so having conversations professional-to-professional about my business made a difference from the start. Our buy-out was a pressured process, but Adam kept me feeling calm and considered throughout. I also like the flexible working model Harper James operates for solicitors, as it’s one that I understand.
How has working with Harper James benefited your business?
It’s allowed us to grow our business and complete a takeover successfully. Legally we have access to the recourse we need as well as the security for our business growth. I am confident we can reach out for support from Harper James with any similar business legal needs over the coming weeks and months.