Growing up I was never sure what I wanted to do for a career. I decided to look at university prospectuses to see what courses were on offer. I remember looking at accountancy, law and business studies and thought they all looked interesting, but then I found a joint subject, Computer Science with Law, and I thought that’s the one!
Tinkering with computers
I’ve always been interested in computers and tinkering with them if they weren’t working properly. Which is why I studied Higher Computing at school. I’d often get a call from my Papa or shouted on by my Mum and Dad to come and help as their computers weren’t working (I still do to this day). Studying Computer Science with Law gave me the opportunity to learn about computer science and the law behind various computer crimes, and this is when I decided I would like to have a career in cyber security. I graduated in 2015 and joined the graduate programme at DXC Technology which was Hewlett Packard at the time. And I’ve never looked back.
Important skills that are useful for a career in cyber security include analytical and diagnostic skills, and softer human skills such as problem solving, communication and team work. Cyber-security is critical to every component in an enterprise, so although you don’t need to be an expert in everything, having a good awareness of multiple technologies would be considered important.
There are times where you need to work with other experts to understand more, so being able to communicate effectively to solve problems as part of a wider team is important. Integrity and honesty are also important skills to have. If someone makes a mistake, especially one that could impact the Confidentiality, Integrity Availability of an environment, they should feel empowered to own up to mistakes, allowing them to be rectified quickly, rather than trying to cover them up and potentially causing further damage.
"Integrity and honesty are.....important skills to have"
Continuous learning is key. The cyber security industry is constantly evolving so it is important to keep current with emerging industry trends. I try and complete at least one certification a year, and I started a Graduate Apprenticeship at the Open University in November studying for a master’s in cyber security. I am almost finished my first year and it has complemented my role at work massively, and given me the opportunity to explore different areas of Information security that I had not really considered before. Topics like quantum computing and its impact on cryptography, and the security risks of driverless cars are two areas that have caught my interest.
I love my job and no two days are the same. I have been able to gain a lot of different experience while working at DXC Technology and it’s great to work with some of the best engineers in the country to support various clients. DXC is also partnered with AWS, Microsoft, Google, HP, ServiceNow, Oracle and many more, so there is always innovative collaboration with our partners and their technologies.
"I love my job, no two days are the same"
I have had the opportunity to get involved in various volunteering and charity events while working at DXC Technology. We recently partnered with the Stemettes team for a hugely successful weekend of coding and app creation for girls aged 5 - 18. We devised a challenge to create an app for people living with dementia. This enabled the younger generation to develop their coding skills while also raising awareness of Alzheimer Scotland. The girls presented their innovative creations to a judging panel from DXC, Microsoft, Alzheimer Scotland and University of the West of Scotland.
I am aware that the perception of a career in cyber or sometimes IT in general is that it's geeky or a very male dominated industry. I wouldn't say that it's geeky or that you need to be geeky to study or work in this field. The only thing that matters is that it is something you enjoy.
You can't be what you can't see
I agree that cyber and IT may be a more male dominated industry, I work in a team where I am currently the only female. I would say that things are changing though, there are more females in the office today than there were when I started 5 years ago. I recently attended a STEM conference and I was listening to a primary teacher discuss how she introduce STEM into her curriculum. She said something that really stuck with me, when discussing the gender imbalance in IT careers. She said, "You can't be what you can't see”. This made me realise how important it is for myself and the other females in the office to continue to go out to schools as STEM Ambassadors and discuss our careers and show that it’s possible to do anything you set your mind to.