Univ Dates: 2005-2008
Degree: BA Oriental Studies
Degree Level: Undergraduate
Occupation: Co-founder, CYDEFENCE, Chairman, Incapital Construction
Biography: Isaac is the founder of two businesses – a cybersecurity company and a national construction firm. He co-founded CYDEFENCE with Oxford University’s world renowned Professor Bill Roscoe in order to prevent companies from investing in blanket cybersecurity solutions that do not solve their specific needs. Isaac is also Chairman of a national construction company, which carries out private and public contracts and infrastructure projects. Prior to those companies, he worked in investment banking, advising FTSE CEOs on corporate business strategy. Isaac obtained a BA (Hons) at Univ and a Master’s degree at St Edmund’s College, Cambridge. Isaac is a Freeman of the City of London. He sits on a number of non-profit boards, including City of London School’s alumni board and Oxford’s Young Univ committee. In his spare time, Isaac enjoys travelling, squash and skiing.
What were your preconceptions of Oxford or Univ before you started here?
‘Preconceptions’ sounds slightly negative! I genuinely did feel lucky and was looking forward to spending three years in a beautiful city amongst some of the most talented academics and students in the world.
How was your first day at Univ?
I remember getting a very warm welcome from the students who had been Freshers themselves just a year earlier. We were shown to our room and given a programme outlining the week ahead. This surprisingly involved no academic work – the College wanted to ensure that we had the opportunity to get to know the other Freshers quite quickly.
Was there anyone at Univ who really inspired you?
During my time at Univ I got to know a student that inspired me very much. He came from a relatively underprivileged background, sharing one bedroom with five of his family members. He was the first person in his family to go to university, and was so gifted that he received scholarship after scholarship. He was without a doubt one of the hardest working people at the College, and his focus was like nothing I had ever encountered. As you can imagine he did extremely well after university, and has since returned to his home country to do amazing things there.
Do you have one outstanding memory?
I have many; however, Lord Butler jumping on a trampoline on main quad for charity is something I will never forget!
How do you think Univ shaped you?
Spending three years with some of the brightest minds of our generation did wonders in preparing me for the real world! The environment I was in went beyond pure academics, and I learned a bit about a lot of different topics, cultures and ideas. This has been immeasurably useful in the business world, where many of the projects we work on involve an interdisciplinary approach. University really did make me a more well-rounded individual.
Did you know what you wanted to do after Univ?
Like many of my contemporaries, I believed that fields such as investment banking or management consulting were obvious early career choices. I planned to gain some knowledge and experience in those fields and then to apply what I had learnt to my own projects. I was always interested in starting my own company, through which I could directly and positively impact society.
How important is a project like the Young Univ Gallery?
As Sir Ivor told us at the Young Univ Gallery photography day, it is crucial that the College continues to demonstrate that its students come from a wide variety of background and go on to careers in many fields. This initiative is therefore commendable and I hope that it will inspire the next generation of students that the world is their oyster, because it is.
How did it feel to be selected to take part in this project?
I was honoured to be selected. I have a great relationship with the College and I was glad to be able to contribute to this worthwhile project.