Melanie Oldham, Founder, and CEO, Bob’s Business shares her journey into cyber security from hospitality and event management to running her own cyber consultancy. She also gives her top tips for joining the industry and how a little bit of passion, adaptability and a good splash of stubbornness can get you a long way.
- Did you have a previous career? Did you have formal training or education in the field? Any work experience?
I studied Event Management at University and went on to become an operations manager of a hotel. After a couple of years in hospitality, I retrained to be a project manager, where I worked on a variety of research and training based projects. Out of the blue one day, I was asked if I had ever heard of Information Security, to which a deathly silence and a shrug followed. I was tasked with helping the IT team to implement BS7799 (British Standard for Information Security) and I remember vividly the uncomfortable feeling I had due to my lack of technical knowledge, surrounded by a team of highly skilled ‘Techies’. Coming from a hospitality background with limited technical knowledge, this was an exceptionally steep curve for me, but I quickly discovered this was a communication role where I needed to decipher technical terms and translate them into a dialogue that the rest of the organisation would understand. Part of the role was also working with regional businesses to help them understand the risks of poor information management, online threats and finding suitable solutions to raise their awareness and reduce their susceptibility. After extensive research, I noticed the availability of online cyber security training was actually very limited and there was a significant gap in the market. As a result, Bob was born.
- What are your top tips for those looking to get into the industry?
Don’t over-complicate anything, know your strengths and apply them to the industry! It’s important to make sure that you surround yourself with people who will bring out the best in you. The most effective teams have a wide breadth of skills and capabilities, they will know how to constructively criticise you and work with you to build your business up. Always ask yourself; what are the risks and opportunities with each action you take, and will it be worthwhile?
- What are three of the top traits you should have to work in cyber security?
Adaptability – No two days are the same in the cyber security sector, therefore you must be able to adjust and adapt effectively to different environments and surroundings on a daily basis.
Resilience (stubbornness!) – Exciting but challenging, it’s important to be able to experience the bad times, learn and build from them, appreciate the good times and try not to let others bring you down throughout your journey!
Passion – As the saying goes ‘Do it with passion or not at all’. You have got to love what you do, give 100%, and try your best to overcome any obstacles and hurdles that face you on the way.