Don’t be overwhelmed. It’s not uncommon for people to enter the sector from a wide range of backgrounds and career paths. There’s a huge breadth of roles available, so research what these are and how your experience, skillset and aspirations align.
Lucy Caiger is the Delivery Lead at Panaseer. Keep reading to find out how she moved from chemist to cyber security consultant in an industry she believes is “people-focused”
Tell us a bit about your journey into the industry – did you have a previous career? Did you have formal training or any work experience in the field?
I studied Chemistry at university and had always planned to go into R&D, before I realised that wasn’t for me. I made a foray into the tech industry and quickly became involved in cyber security following some initial training in data analysis as part of a graduate role.
Much like other stories I’ve heard, it wasn’t a path I planned, but rather something that I fell into due to the opportunities available to me at the time. After some initial wariness of what would be involved, I fell in love with the breadth of exposure you get and the real impact you can have working in the industry. I started as a Cyber Investigator, analysing anomalies in network data and working as part of a team in exciting, fast-paced, incident response engagements.
As the industry was still emerging, I didn’t start with any formal training in the domain but had a steep learning curve in the subject as the team and industry matured.
For the past few years, I’ve worked in product solution consultant and delivery roles, focussed on working in small teams on emerging products and technologies, which enables me to continue to have a strong impact in the field as my career progresses.
What are your top tips for those looking to get into the industry?
● Don’t be overwhelmed. It’s not uncommon for people to enter the sector from a wide range of backgrounds and career paths (in my experience this is the norm!). It is likely that your previous experience can be applied to a range of areas. As there’s been such a rapid growth in the industry, you won’t be the only newbie!
● Get stuck in! There’s a wealth of information online (blogs, news stories, white papers) and open source training courses available. Read up on the basics and then get stuck in! Research emerging trends, download software tools, look into example data sets, understand real-world case studies of breaches and associated impacts and attend networking events (conferences / meetups) to speak to people working in the industry. This will help you target areas of interest as well as quickly improve your domain knowledge.
● Understand what roles are available. There’s a huge breadth of roles available, so research what these are and how your experience, skillset and aspirations align.
What are three of the top traits you should have to work in cyber security?
● Openness to new technologies / emerging trends. There are many emerging technologies, so embrace them! Although try not to get caught up in the hype…
● An analytical mindset. This does not mean that you need to have technical analytical or coding skills, but you do need a good approach to problem solving to be able to consider the different challenges the security industry faces.
● Communication. The ability to communicate and work with different stakeholders is key.
Anything else you’d like to say to inspire women into this sector
The wide range of areas and roles means that there is highly likely to be something that you can find which engages and interests you.
As well as the obvious technical areas, the industry is very people-focussed: users of technology and tools, consideration of personal information and, most importantly, adversaries. Ultimately a lot of the challenges relate back to human behaviour, therefore it requires humans to understand, analyse and provide solutions.
It is an area that really does affect everyone, in many different areas of life (including personal devices, online profiles, smart homes and working environments to name a few) and the challenges are not going away!
The industry continues to grow and the need for more skills is still a huge challenge. The good news is that this means there are lots of opportunities to have a real impact in an evolving, exciting, fascinating area.
Inspired by Lucy’s story? Find out more about a career at Panaseer.