“There are a huge shortage of skills in the industry. So take a chance regardless of what you think your core strengths are – there will be a role for you.”
Mivy James, Head of Consulting for National Security and Defence, BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, tells us what she loves about cyber security, how to break into the industry and some of the skills you need to be successful.
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 did a degree in Computer Science & Maths having previously discovered the joy of writing code when I was only 9. Throughout my degree I worked as a coder during the summer holidays and joined a graduate scheme as soon as I finished. I started my career as an analyst / programmer then moved into technical leadership and system design. It’s been a long time since I have written code professionally! These days I do strategic advisory work for big technology and cyber programmes.
What are your top tips for those looking to get into the industry?
There are lots of different careers and career pathways available, so be open minded about the type of role you start with. There is also a huge shortage of skills in the industry, so take a chance regardless of what you think your core strengths are – there will be a role for you.
Take the opportunity to go to events aimed at encouraging people into the industry such as CyberCenturion, and make the most of any opportunities you have to connect with potential employers. Many companies offer entry level training schemes for cyber skills, which is a fantastic way of breaking into the industry.
What are three of the top traits you need to work in cyber security?
● Good communication skills – there will be lots of interaction with other people, especially clients.
● Curiosity – be curious, keep learning new skills and asking the right questions.
● Self awareness – understand what you do and don’t know. Cyber is really about managing risk and it’s very risky to believe you know everything when you don’t.
Anything else you’d like to say to inspire women into this sector?
I’ve worked in the tech industry for well over 20 years and thoroughly enjoy it. I find it fascinating the way the field continuously grows and changes, so there’s always something new to learn. I also love solving problems, so it appeals to my natural curiosity. Being able to share ideas with colleagues and to come up with a better solution together is extremely valuable, so surround yourself with great mentors, role models and a strong team.
Feeling inspired by Mivvy? Take a look at the career options available at BAE Systems.