The concept of cybersecurity is not a new one. However, the need for cybersecurity professionals has skyrocketed in recent years as technology becomes more advanced and we pivot larger parts of our businesses and lives into the digital space.
With many people looking to make the change into the cyber space, we caught up with Head of Security and IT at Superloop, Jason Veness, to talk about his experience employing graduate Monika Mathur, the role of TAFE in equipping the next generation of cyber professionals, and his thoughts on the industry.
Working with VU Polytechnic cyber star Monika
“I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of managing Monika and hiring her into the Superloop family here in the role of a Security Analyst. What Monika brings to the table at Superloop in the analyst role and security space isn’t just her lovely personality, it’s all about her enthusiasm. That spark that you don’t find in everybody. A lot of that started with you guys (VU Polytechnic) and the cybersecurity program.
When Monika came as a cybersecurity graduate out of TAFE, she just wanted to work in cyber. She has multiple, previous degrees, but I only found that out after I hired Monika. She had no cares about where she should be starting off, just that drive, and she got that from TAFE. Couldn’t be happier for hiring Monika.”
What are the benefits for employers when hiring TAFE graduates?
If you hire someone out of TAFE they are looking to get on with it. They want the opportunity. I’ve worked in this industry for 25 years. I don’t know anybody who has started as an IT manager right after finishing their education. Most people go through that proving period.
The attitude and the expectations from TAFE graduates are very different to someone coming out of a more formal four-year degree. They are not looking for a title, they are looking to be the next person in cybersecurity, whatever that takes. They are the people I love to hire. I love community colleges and TAFE, which are interest driven. Someone who is looking to upskill, not necessarily looking to come out with a Certificate or a Bachelors, but a skill. That’s what TAFE is teaching.
What skills do you see as essential in the industry?
If you can relate a security objective to a business objective you’ve won half the battle in the security world. Ask the question, how do I as a security professional align my objectives closer to the business? Problem solving, project management and basic business skills are where we are identifying some of the biggest gaps.
There’s a shift in the industry from veteran network security vendors putting up very complex, specific tools where you need to have very specialised training. You can’t build a generalist with those type of tools. A Certificate IV in Cybersecurity is a generalist program to get people up to speed and capable to enter the market. Cybersecurity is no one suite of tools. The Certificate IV in Cyber Security at VU Polytechnic covers all the good generalist stuff and develops interest in those tools…people don’t need to be an expert in a single solution, or specialized tool, they need to look at what’s different. That is a skill that is taught from looking at patterns and data. It’s more data science than a ‘technical’ skill.”
What is important for the future of the cyber industry?
We absolutely have, especially in security these days, an absolute obligation to talk to the next generation. Monika always asks, ‘can I go do this for the school or can I go and speak to young people about security and my job?’. My answer; I’d be disappointed if you didn’t.
The stuff that keeps me awake at night is what I don’t see, what I don’t understand. It’s what we don’t know, what we can’t see, what we can’t detect. It’s also what drives me and what I love about cyber. No one day is ever truly the same.
I’ve met so many young people who have come through the Cert III and Cert IV programs, and some not so young, who are absolutely bringing a lot of fresh ideas into cybersecurity which is what is needed in the workforce.
Thank you to Jason for sharing his valuable insights.