I only started working at Capgemini in January 2019, but I’ve been working in cybersecurity for around five years. In that time, I’ve worked in everything from hands-on technical roles through to end-to-end security management. Cybersecurity is such a new and rapidly changing discipline, and one that is widely misunderstood. I’d like to offer the benefits of my experience so far to provide five top tips on building your career in cybersecurity.
Take time to explore the opportunities available
I knew very little about cybersecurity when I was at school. I began my working life in technical support, fixing computers for a university. I developed an interest in cybersecurity, and in malware particularly, and got a role working for the Met Office on incident management and protective monitoring. It was a very hands-on role, which gave me some valuable skills, but I soon realised I wanted a to work on end-to-end security in a management capacity. To make that move I needed to get some experience of risk management, assurance, governance and policy. So I moved to the Environment Agency, working in risk management and assurance for Defra. At the same time, I skilled myself up with professional qualifications, including my CISSP qualification and ethical hacker certification. That combination of experience, skills and qualifications enabled me to make the move into security management with Capgemini.
When people hear that I work in cybersecurity, they always assume I’m a coder. But there are so many varied opportunities in cybersecurity, from very technical, coding roles through to risk management, solution development, training and policy development. It’s important to find out where your interests lie, and to find a career that suits your skills and passions. Maybe approach your local cybersecurity team and ask about opportunities, or shadow someone for a time. Cybersecurity offers something for everyone, so you need to find the right role for you.
Don’t let preconceptions stand in your way
As a young person and a woman, I’ve found that perceptions and attitudes sometimes count against me. But that has certainly not been my experience at Capgemini. Two Capgemini values in particular have been key for me in this: boldness and team spirit. Capgemini recognised my skills and merits and put me straight into a security management role. That was a bold decision. But Capgemini believed in me, put me forward and said: ‘show us what you can do’.
I’ve also benefited from having a team behind me that have promoted the fact that I’m young and a woman, and have stood by my decisions and backed me all the way. That support has bolstered my confidence from the day I joined. I’m a very driven person and I’m confident that I know what I’m talking about when it comes to cybersecurity. Capgemini recognised this and put me straight to work on a client account that had previously had no security management. That gave me the chance to prove myself, to show that I knew what I was talking about, and show the client that I could benefit their business with my solutions and advice.
Understand the business you’re joining
I knew all about Capgemini before I joined. They were a supplier of security services to the company I worked for, so I understood the business inside out. I had experienced the quality of service they provided and the pride they took in delivering their services. As a client, it was clear to me they really knew what they were talking about, and that promoting talent was a genuine focus.
I’m very passionate about delivering a quality service, and I saw that same passion in Capgemini. I wanted to work for a company where my work was valued and where talent was promoted rather than quashed. That’s what really attracted me to Capgemini.
I think it’s so important when exploring career opportunities that you find a company whose values and beliefs are compatible with yours. The benefits of this have been borne out since I’ve been here, with Capgemini consistently supporting me, acting on my ideas and backing my expertise.
Keep learning – and ask questions
I’ve always been eager to learn and to expand my knowledge. I studied an English degree from home while working full-time in technical support. Later, I went on to do a Masters degree in Philosophy while working. My degrees have nothing to do with my work, but I studied them for my own personal interest. I’ve also taken many professional qualifications to support my career ambitions.
Fortunately for me, cybersecurity is such a fast-moving, ever-changing industry that it demands constant learning. The threat landscape is constantly changing. You need to keep up to date with the latest trends and developments, but also be prepared to ask questions and seek out expertise; to use your contacts to tap into people with different skills and knowledge. It’s the perfect working environment for someone like me who enjoys investigating and acquiring knowledge.
Look for opportunities to give something back
It’s important to share your enthusiasm for cybersecurity. Go to conferences, join networking groups, support training and development programs, build your own profile and help people to understand what cybersecurity is all about. It’s such a misunderstood area. Security is often seen as a barrier, but that is a misconception. We are here to enable not disable. We are here to find solutions, to create workarounds that suit everyone; solutions that are secure, of course, but which won’t cause problems further down the line. As security professionals we often have to tread a fine line between building good relationships and being the person to put their foot down when necessary to protect the security of an organization. So, the more we can do to raise the profile of cybersecurity and improve understanding, the better.
Love your career
If I had to sum up what I love about cybersecurity, it’s the fact that I have an opportunity to make a massive difference in my role. I love the fact that at Capgemini my ideas are listened to and turned into action.