CSCUK

Don’t be afraid to stand up and stand out. We need effective industry advocates, so encourage others to consider a career in cyber security and make sure they understand how they could have a positive effect on the world.

A mix of passion, resilience and adaptability helped CEO Melanie Oldham to overcome a lack of technical knowledge and set up Bob’s Business: a company on a mission to transform cyber security awareness amongst organisations. Balancing a family and a career is never easy, but Melanie assures us the rewards of working within cyber security make it all worthwhile.

Tell us a bit about your journey into the cyber security and what it was that drove you to set up Bob’s Business.

I studied event management at university and went on to become an operations manager of a hotel. After a few years in hospitality, I retrained to be a project manager, where I worked on a variety of research and training-based projects.

One day – totally out of the blue – I was asked if I’d ever heard of information security, to which I responded with a deathly silence and a shrug. I was tasked with helping the IT team to implement BS7799 (British Standard for Information Security) and I vividly remember feeling uncomfortable because of my lack of technical knowledge, especially because I was surrounded by a team of highly skilled ‘techies’.

It was an exceptionally steep learning curve, but I quickly discovered it was really a communications role, as I needed to decipher technical terms and translate them into a dialogue that the rest of the organisation would understand.

Part of the role was also working with regional businesses to help them understand the risks of poor information management, online threats and finding suitable solutions to raise their awareness and reduce their susceptibility. After extensive research, I noticed that the availability of online cyber security training was actually very limited. As a result, Bob was born!

What are your top tips for those looking to get into the industry?

Don’t overcomplicate things, know your strengths and apply them to the industry!

It’s important to make sure that you surround yourself with people who will bring out the best in you. The most effective teams have a wide range of skills and capabilities, and they will know how to constructively criticise you and work with you to build up your career.

Always ask yourself: what are the risks and opportunities with each action you take, and will it be worthwhile?

What are three of the top traits you should have to work in cyber security?

Adaptability. No two days are the same in the cyber security sector, so you must be able to adjust and adapt effectively to different environments and surroundings on a daily basis.

Resilience (stubbornness!). The industry is exciting but challenging, so it’s important to be able to experience the bad times – and learn and build from them, appreciate the good times, and try not to let others bring you down throughout your journey!

Passion. As the saying goes: ‘Do it with passion or not at all’. You have to love what you do, always give 100% and try your best to overcome any obstacles and hurdles you face on the way.

What do you love about working in cyber security – and what do you think is the biggest challenge?

What I love most about the industry is the fact that it’s constantly changing, and as a result you change with it.

The biggest challenge is changing behaviour. With few exceptions, we’re creatures of habit, and changing those habits can be very difficult. With that said, it’s also extremely rewarding when you see people adopt new behaviours.

Anything else you’d like to say to inspire women to take up a career in the sector?

Don’t be afraid to stand up and stand out. We need effective industry advocates, so encourage others to consider a career in cyber security and make sure they understand how they could have a positive effect on the world.

I think it’s essential to acknowledge that bad things are going to happen, but what’s important is how quickly you dust yourself off and rise to the challenge. Accepting this helped me develop a resilience that keeps me going when curve balls came bounding in and try to knock me off my feet!

It is tough when your kids say, ‘Mummy I hate your work, I want you to stay with me today!’ But it makes me smile when they say, ‘My mum teaches people to stay safe and not be silly online,’ and I’m proud knowing that I’m helping to secure their future. Knowing I’m making a difference in people’s lives makes it all worthwhile.