What do I do for a living? I fight evil computer hackers and save the world from complete cyber meltdown.
Okay, maybe it’s not exactly the glamorous superhero scenario some people have in their heads, but working in cybersecurity is an exciting career path (and totally underrated, if you ask me) that allows me to collaborate with brilliant minds in the industry.
Cybersecurity is the practice of protecting computer information systems, hardware, network, and data from breaches of confidentiality, integrity and availability. Success in this industry depends on a team of people with widely varied skills and personalities.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions around working in cybersecurity. In reality, cybersecurity is a fast-moving, dynamic industry.
So, without further ado, here’s my take on what it’s really like to work in cybersecurity.
First, we’re not just a bunch of geeks. I don’t work in a dark basement. I don’t wear a hood or mask, and I shower at least once a day. We’re just like everyone else—except we happen to be really good with technology. We come from all different professional and personal backgrounds. Before joining Kohler Co., I worked for a national builder and was encouraged by a brilliant mentor to pursue IT certifications. Eight years later, I joined Kohler Co. Fast forward 12 years and several jobs/departments later, and I am now a Senior Enterprise Cybersecurity Architect. It’s quite a unique role, as are many IT roles, developed specifically to meet the needs of a diverse and geographically dispersed organization.
Flexibility is embraced and encouraged. One of the perks of working with technology is that we’re not afraid to use it to maximize our flexibility and efficiency. I’m able to work from home, which allows me to spend more time with my family and accommodate different schedules. Kohler Co. has a presence all over the globe, and traditional 9 to 5 working patterns don’t work across time zones. Having an office at home makes being connected globally so much easier. Plus, it gives me up to two extra hours with my son every day, and eliminates my commute to a shared office, saving up to 1.8 tons of carbon per year.
There’s room to learn and grow. There are huge career opportunities as the demand for cybersecurity professionals far outweighs the supply. Technology is growing at an increasingly fast pace, and it’s our job to stay ahead of the curve. Throughout my 20 years in IT, I’ve never stopped learning and probably never will. Research is a big part of the job, keeping up to date on the latest in security best practices as they apply to a variety of different platforms. It’s that kind of approach that you need to succeed in IT— not necessarily chasing qualifications but the acknowledgement that it’s a lifelong journey of development and learning. The next big thing to change the cybersecurity world will be quantum computing, and that is something that is going to really change the cybersecurity world.
There truly is no such thing as a typical day for me. Take for example, one of my days this week: Kicked it off by working with Chinese colleagues to close a security vulnerability, which led to a robust conversation on global standards. Then, a few hours of research on data privacy requirements before making my recommendation on a new platform implementation. Throw in a firewall change (not really my bag, but it’s urgent and I like to help where I can), a meeting with my mentee, and a security architecture review session. Wrap it all up with an evening call to my U.S. colleagues.
Phew! By the time I called it quits, I could look back on the day and know I did my bit—protecting our data (and yours if you are a Kohler customer) one day at a time and helping the next generation of cybersecurity professionals flourish.