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Meet the Board

The board of the Women’s Security Society is made up of professionals from various backgrounds, working together to bring their experience to the Society and help women in their careers.

Houdah Al-Hakim

Houdah started out in the legal industry and is a qualified solicitor who left the law to become more involved in the private security sector.  Starting off in 2013 managing a security firm focused in Door Supervision, Houdah moved on to consult (mainly on areas such as recruitment, legal, marketing, contract bidding, operations and risk assessment) for larger security firms in a variety of sectors including corporate, retail, CP and events.  Having also held an SIA licence and worked on the frontline mainly within licensed premises and sports events/festivals, Houdah has acquired a variety of perspectives and would like to utilise her background to work with others to raise standards and promote opportunities in the industry.

In 2017 Houdah completed the Level 6 CSMP course with ISMI to further her knowledge and understanding of the security industry at a more senior risk management level.  At the same time she began developing an online recruitment/knowledge sharing platform – Quick Click Security, with an aim to centralise information and training and recruitment opportunities for everyone involved in or related to the private security sector.

Houdah is keen to utilise her varied experiences to promote inclusivity, create resources to allow for easier knowledge sharing and networking and to help raise awareness of security as a valid and attractive career path.


Patricia Vella

Patricia Vella is a consultant providing business & technology security and resilience guidance to clients across a wide range of sectors. Prior to going independent she spent many years as Global Head of Business Continuity and Crisis for a telecoms manufacturer, she was also a VP of Security and Business Continuity for a major European investment bank. During that time she had considerable hands-on crisis management experience for incidents as diverse as disease outbreak, cyberattack, earthquake, office destruction due to terrorism, Bollywood star death and London bombings, as well as numerous extreme weather incidents worldwide.


Patricia has 30 years experience in Security and Resilience in technical roles ranging from software engineer for secure systems, solution architect of high availability secure solutions, technology researcher for a Japanese company (where her business horizons were a decade into the future), to IT manager for a 24×7 critical infrastructure group (where she needed to react to issues within minutes). She has worked within and with a broad range of companies and cultures worldwide and has a particular interest in ensuring Resilience and Security initiatives work for transnational corporations and supply chains and is a regular speaker at industry conferences and podcast guest.

Yalena Coleman

Yalena draws on her 17 years of experience in the technology arena across various industries in Europe, Asia and Africa, including software development, IoT, digital strategy and cybersecurity. 

She is currently a Solution Architect in the Applied Data and Technology team at Connected Places Catapult, which facilitates the testing of new and emerging technologies in the advanced urban services sector and looks at innovative uses of urban data across the public and private sectors. 


Simone Wheatley

I don’t think I’m your typical ‘Big Tech’ employee.  I came from a working class family in Yorkshire, UK, my mum made Paintbrushes for a living and my dad was a door to door Salesman.  I left home at 17 and quickly worked out that independent living and studying didn’t come cheap.   I subsequently dropped my IT and Language ‘A’ Levels and started full time employment in a department store, I also had a night job cleaning offices and a weekend job behind a bar.  Life wasn’t easy and I agree it doesn’t sound like a great start but with good GCSE’s and an incredibly strong work ethic I ended up serving almost 10 years in the British Army and eventually transformed myself into an Intelligence and Security Black Belt.  I left the military in 2005 to set up home with my future husband, I secured a great role as the Security Manager for a Nuclear Police Force which I did for several years before specialising in Security Management and Cyber Security Consulting for Logica and Hewlett Packard.  I spent a year in Australia in Corporate Security Management for HP and ATOS and then returned and in short took up the role of Microsoft UK Security Controller in 2015. 

I joined Microsoft 5 months pregnant and I think this was a first in Microsoft UK and again not the way I planned it.   The past 10 years we have been blessed with 3 wonderful girls (Aged 9,8 and 4) and I have somehow managed to work full time and still achieve great results at work.  Without the support from my employers, incredible mobile technology and the ability to work somewhat flexibly when required I would not be here. 

I’ve made my mistakes and I’ve learned from them.  I’ve certainly put my foot in it a few times too.   Indeed I’ve learned so much I think it’s now it’s my time to pass on the benefit of my experience, I can’t wait to start helping the next generation of passionate security professionals.   ‘You don’t have to be perfect just keep trying your best’.