Austin Phillips and Richard Purdy – engineers from SMD, independent designer and manufacturer of work class and...
The security solution
Years Served: 5 years
Wesley was initially interested in rejoining the police force he had left to join the Army. He was also looking at what he described as the ‘generic industries’, such as health and safety and driving jobs – ‘the roles that are pushed towards you when you leave,’ he says. But, essentially, Wesley had no idea what he wanted to do long term.
Challenges of transitioning
‘The biggest challenges I faced were branching out, investing my time in things I thought I wouldn’t be interested in. I also spent too much time thinking about what I wanted to do,’ says Wesley. ‘If you are about to leave, I would advise you not to waste your ELC or resettlement training funds. Wait until you have found something you really want to do and complete courses that are relevant to that industry. I think a lot of Service leavers don’t realise that, even if a course is not offered through the CTP, there are other places that will offer it. I haven’t spent any of my funds yet as I’m hoping to do some further education, related to the job role I am doing at the moment.’
Cyber Security Training Course
Wesley found out about the Cyber Security Training Course (see our feature on page 38) through one of SaluteMyJob’s recruitment consultants. ‘I saw it and remember thinking I didn’t have a clue what cyber security was about, but when I checked what the course was about I thought it looked really interesting,’ he says. ‘Before I got involved in the course, I knew how to use Microsoft Word, I had no IT skills or formal qualifications. I was a Rifleman so I’d had nothing to do with IT or computers. I thought I was going to be completely out of my depth on the course – I remember the course leader going round the room asking about people’s experience and I was the only one who did not have any kind of cyber security background. The course leader did think I was going to struggle but in the end I did really well. I approached it with a completely blank, fresh mind and because I didn’t have any idea about cyber security at the time, I was able to adapt to it. And that goes back to what I was saying earlier – you are a lot more adaptable than you think you are when you leave the Forces. Because, even though the course was completely foreign and like a different language to me, because of the way I’d been taught to think in the Army, to be able to adapt, I was able to do well.’
Wesley says he would highly recommend the course to other Service leavers. ‘What’s the worst that’s going to happen? You may go there and think this is not for me but at least you’ll have a good qualification on your CV. Best-case scenario – what happened to me: you go on the course and then find yourself in a role heavily involved in cyber security.’
Opportunity at Satisnet
John McCann, director at Satisnet, visited the candidates on Wesley’s course and that chance meeting led to a career-changing opportunity. ‘After chatting with John, I was asked whether I would like to do a month’s work experience in their Security Operations Centre and I started straight away. I have since been offered permanent employment. Initially I was monitoring networking traffic and the role itself was a lot more technical, but my role has since changed. Looking at others within the department, I could see that to get to their level of skill would take me three to four years so, after speaking to John, he suggested I try an accounts manager role. My official title now is sales accounts manager, so it is more about selling IT solutions, but it is so much more than just a sales job as you need to have a good understanding of networking in general.’
Wesley has some words for other Service leavers looking to get into the cyber security industry: ‘A big piece of general advice would be to keep LinkedIn up to date – and really utilise it. I would also recommend you get involved in any courses offered to you relating to the industry you are wanting to pursue. Although now I am doing something unrelated to QRadar, if it weren’t for that course I would not be where I am now. Your circumstances can change with one conversation. Mine did!’
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