Meet UKSTAR Committee Member – Declan O’Riordan

My first paid IT job was working in a mainframe operations room. Two years later I was writing and testing assembly language programs that formatted the data entry to that mainframe. As systems increased in size and complexity I was drawn into more specialized testing roles that varied from Test Analyst to Head of Test. I never lost interest in getting ‘hands-on’ and found it much easier to manage testing work the better I understood the details. One of those important details is security, and I now specialise in managing security testing throughout the SDLC. My ambition is to be a full-pipeline and full-stack Tester, able to manoeuvre not only left and right, but also down and up through the delivery pipeline. I believe the limits to testing scope are often those we passively impose upon ourselves.


What excites you about UKSTAR & what tips do you have for people submitting to speak? 

UKSTAR is much more than a talking shop for testers. It is the premier testing event in the UK, and second only to its parent (EuroSTAR) in Europe. The standard of keynotes and session talks are at the very highest level.


If you have an interesting idea for UKSTAR do please submit it. Here are my personal opinions on submissions:

  • Think about the takeaways you could deliver to the audience. You will have the components of an interesting talk (or conversation / discussion) if you can relate your information usefully with delegates’ perspectives.
  • A constructive message is more likely to succeed than an entirely critical one, but honestly evaluated failures are important learning points.
  • Avoid regurgitating other speakers’ ideas or repeating third-party material in volume.
  • Valid new concepts are more interesting than well-known dogma.
  • Your personal perspective is a vital component, and audiences usually like a session that connects your ideas to theirs.
  • Real experience trumps theory.
  • Deep thoughts need clear communication.
  • Shallow thoughts don’t withstand much scrutiny.
  • Popular current topics are likely to receive multiple similar submissions. Try to anticipate the competition and differentiate yourself from others.
  • UKSTAR is the big league. Give your submission everything you’ve got!


Who or what has been a big influence on my testing career?

Unsurprisingly, I’ve been influenced positively by many of the great speakers at previous EuroSTAR conferences. Slowly getting to know many of those thought-leaders has been a huge privilege. My working perspective has been shaped by a wide variety of organizations, from caring cultures to the brutally commercial and highly bureaucratic. All had their strengths and weaknesses, but the people were always the most important ingredient. If I could only name three individuals who have influenced my thoughts most this decade they would be:

Jeff Williams (Creator of the OWASP ‘Top-Ten’ and much besides)

Arshan Dabirsiaghi (OWASP contributor and Chief Scientist at Contrast Security)

Dafydd Stuttard (Author and creator of the Burp Suite tool)

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