As a career choice, ‘cyber security professional’ might seem out of reach for someone outside the IT industry. High security clearances and jargon-filled job descriptions shroud the industry in secrecy.
Now cyber security consultancy Ionize is setting out to challenge these views. They want cyber to be an appealing choice for people who don’t even have it on their radar. For Ionize, it’s not about credentials. It’s about skills, drive and interest – and even one of those things can give you a good start.
Cyber challenges are increasingly diverse, and the need for more people to join in and solve them is high. That’s why Ionize Managing Director, Andrew Muller, is adamant that the industry needs to think outside the box to make more opportunities and fill the gaps.
‘The danger with cyber is that it’s tempting to fall into the trap of admiring the problem, rather than doing something about it. We prefer action to admiration.
‘That means being prepared for risks that might not exist yet. Modern cyber requires practitioners to be open to different perspectives and for us that means creating an environment where differing opinions should be explored versus dismissed.’
Ionize is going against the circuit, building teams that don’t look like a typical collection of cyber workers. Dealing with diverse issues in cyber means having people who think differently.
‘Having different perspectives is important,’ says Andrew. ‘You need at least half a dozen people who aren’t alike to deal with the range of problems.
‘If you have lots of people who think in distinctive ways, at least one of them will click with the problem.’
People needed to solve people problems
The industry is expanding with opportunities outside data and codes. ‘Cyber humanities’ is growing along with a need for more people with skills in psychology and cultural analysis to understand the human assailant.
There are jobs for people who can organise, manage time well and deal with changing environments. Governance and risk-focused positions could attract someone who’s looking for a change from managing human resources.
‘Everything looks like a nail to a hammer. That’s the benefit of hiring teams with a diverse background,’ says Andrew.
‘We need cyber professionals who’ll bring a fresh perspective to some of our most stubborn problems.’
‘Can the skills of someone outside the industry come in to approach the same problem in a different way?’
Andrew’s message is simple: anyone can learn anything.
‘It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a technical background. If you’re well supported and have a good attitude and aptitude, why not?’
Growing the workforce to meet future demand
Ionize have a passion for education in the community. They’re about ‘collaboration before competition’ – Andrew is eager and generous about helping others succeed.
For the industry to thrive, he says cyber needs to be seen as a career option for anyone. It needs transparency and open forums to encourage diversity and fill the extensive roles available.
‘Building grassroots capability makes it sustainable,’ says Andrew.
‘Empowering people to learn and share with others is important for a thriving, open and transparent industry.
‘I’ve had so many people reach out and say, “this is what I want to do but I don’t know how to get involved”.
‘Cyber has long been perceived as an exclusive closed club. We’re now starting to see people reaching out from all parts of the community. Those who have never done anything in cyber before are some of our most successful recruits.
‘One of the best things about being based here in Canberra is that we’ve got a great pool of talent combined with the opportunity to put it into practice every day across a wide range of customer business problems – it’s an incredibly stimulating place to be in cyber.’
The industry’s transforming, and it’s driving hiring people who reflect the diversity of Australia to solve its equally diverse cyber security challenges.
If cyber security didn’t seem like an option before, but you’ve got a desire to help the country…why not?