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We have tried, since S4 began in 2007, to recognize and promote new talent in our speaker selection. The three stages at S4x23 will be full of new speakers. Here are some stats.

  • Only 8 of the 57 speakers were on stage at S4x20 or S4x22 (S4x21 did not take place). And 4 of those 8 (Dale, Megan, Ralph and Zach) were on the Closing Panel, the one session that does have repeat speakers.
  • 46 of the 57 speakers, 81%, have never been on a S4 stage before.

This 81% new to S4 speakers is a higher percentage than usual. While we can know for sure why, here are some ideas.

  • There is a lot of new talent coming into the OT and ICS Security Field. This talent is coming in from areas outside ICS security and from sectors that are just beginning to focus on ICS security.
  • A number of speakers were first time attendees at S4x22, were encouraged to respond to the CFP this summer, and put in quality session proposals.
  • We received a record number of submissions from women. There may be a positive feedback loop now that women attendees, and S4 Events YouTube Channel viewers, see a variety of women on stage and feel they can submit and be accepted. It seems we have transitioned from a handful of women who speak at all ICS security events, to a broader number of women speakers and importantly those just starting to step out on the stage.
  • Perhaps some of the regular speakers on the OT and ICS Security circuit have a go to session proposal that is very popular. These great speakers get penalized if the content is not new, not fresh.

We don’t want S4 to be an event with the usual suspects coming on stage year after year. The bar to speak a second consecutive year is quite high. It has to be a session proposal we desperately want and can’t say no to. This higher bar resets after the speaker skips speaking one year. Our expectation is this 81% won’t continue for S4x24, x25, … Still it is exciting to look forward to giving so much new talent a chance to shine on a S4 stage.