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Insights Wild swimming, cyber security and a vice

At work and in life, Chris Johnson is all about new frontiers. The opportunity to influence an emerging engineering discipline, combined with the important purpose of protecting critical national infrastructure (railways, aviation, nuclear and other energy services), is why he sold his house in the UK and moved to Montreal in September 2018. 

Chris is the cyber security lead for Rail & Transit, and he cites some alarming facts about the industrial digital world. “There’s a compound effect happening,” he says. “The attacks are becoming more frequent, the adoption of technology is exponential, and the skilled workforce to protect against it is inadequate.” By 2021, there’ll be 3.5 million career openings within cyber security, and of 5,400 companies surveyed across the globe for their cyber security preparedness, 71% are not ready. It’s a knowledge arms race for companies to get their people equipped and ready to conquer a new discipline, and the market share that comes with it. 

Chris mentions a recent interview Elon Musk gave about regulating artificial intelligence for the protection of the human race. The thing that keeps Chris up at night is that by the time we realize there’s a need for cyber security regulation, it’ll be too late. It’s what keeps his foot on the gas at work. 

Moving countries is a big decision, but it suits Chris’s pioneering spirit. “Do what you've always done, get what you've always got” is a truth he takes to heart. Since learning French is a current goal, Montreal is a great fit. He takes lessons twice a week, and practices as much as he can. Chris also just showed off his new city to his first visitors from home. His dad, brother and sister got a tour of his favourite restaurants and jet boated the Lachine Rapids, among other things. 

After work, you might find him running to the top of Mount Royal, knocking down his previous time before taking in the cityscape. Trail running, golfing, hiking, skiing, and touring the local spas are on his list of enjoyable pastimes. A spa outing this past winter in Mont-Tremblant National Park included a dip into the La Diable River. It reminded him of the yearly family trip in England that includes lots of hiking and “compulsory wild swims in ludicrously cold water.” While a healthy, active lifestyle is important to him, Chris does admit to one vice. He’s a cigar aficionado, and gathers with like-minded cigar lovers regularly to talk (and enjoy) cigars and life. 

Chris in 5 takes:

Love: Family in the UK 
Food: Ferrera Café in Montreal (Chris also makes a mean Chateaubriand, and likes to put on a proper Mexican banquet with everything made from scratch.) 
Song: “Brand New Start” by Paul Weller (Chris enjoys playing this song on the guitar. He’s been playing for 20 years, so a guitar was one of the essential items he bought upon his arrival in Canada.) 
Place: The Lake District (“That’s where we go hiking and wild swimming up the mountains in the UK.”) 
A Structure: Blackpool Tower. (Chris was born in Blackpool. He says this tower is “very much the seaside, less impressive UK equivalent of the Eiffel Tower.”) 

For more about Chris’s expertise, click here