From Travel to Cyber Security: How Ez Re-booted His Career

cyber security career change from travel sales consulting

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Thanks to the Institute of Data Cyber Security Program at University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Ez Yiap successfully landed a cyber security role at Triskele Labs within 6 months of his travel industry career coming to an abrupt end. Ez was the recipient of a generous AIR Scholarship from UTS and the Institute of Data, specifically created to assist people in the travel industry to transition into cyber security.

As a part of the Institute of Data Cyber Security Program at UTS, Ez was mentored and trained by industry experts and landed a job in the cyber security industry before graduating from the 24-week part time cyber security program.

Watch the full interview with Ez:

Read about his journey:

From a background in sales and consulting, what motivated you to upskill and pursue a career in cyber security?

“The travel industry sadly ground to a halt with the onslaught of COVID19. I saw the fast-growing cyber security industry offering an exciting, interesting and challenging work scape so I made the pivot. Cyber security has a skills shortage and needs diversity in professionals who can bring open-mindedness, unique thinking and experiences as well as much needed soft skills to bring cyber awareness out of the basement and into the board room.”

Tell us more about your career before making the change to cyber security – How many years of industry experience did you have prior to joining the part time program?

“Prior to joining the Institute of Data, I didn’t have any specific industry experience, only 4 months of my own self-directed learning and development. My years of real-life business and leadership experience proved a solid foundation to build on.

My career history started out in the automotive industry as a mechanic for 4 years. I then got exposure to sales and service in an outsourced Telstra contact centre. Chasing unique experiences and a bit of self-discovery I taught English in Japan. After I returned, I got a job with Flight Centre Travel Group. My plan was just to do a short stint. I quickly settled into the lifestyle I was able to create in the travel industry.

I discovered one of the greatest reasons to get out of bed every day – to be a part of someone else’s unique experience and history. I built a legacy I am proud of through customer relations, business development, networking and learning lots about how people think, feel and value. Through 10 and a half years with Flight Centre, I had the fortune of rising to a Senior Team Leader with a Diploma of Management, years of transferable skills and experience in one of the best yards to forge a diligent, high-level work ethic.”

What did you enjoy most about the cyber security program?

“What I’ve enjoyed the most is seeing where business goals and cyber security intersect to support risk strategies and enable businesses to grow with confidence. My trainer Michael is instrumental in bringing real world experiences to the classroom, helping me to see past the theory and into the office with everything I’ve learned.”

You’re now working with Triskele Labs, a Cybersecurity company – Congratulations! How did you get a job in the industry before completing your training?

“Thanks! I’m excited and grateful for the opportunity to join Triskele Labs. I began looking at cyber security jobs when I started the course. My advice is, don’t wait until you’re finished. When I decide to pursue something, there’s no looking back – no hesitation, just discovery, delivery and drive.

I made the effort to ask lots of questions and unpack all the areas of cyber security. I began to see where my strengths and experiences leant best. When I started applying for jobs and had discussions with people in the industry, I became aware of the difficulty to break into cyber security. For all that there’s a skills shortage and our industry’s in need, it’s a challenging one to start out in.

I believe in living for your work and not working to live. To me, this means you must choose somewhere to work that aligns with your ideals – where you see people and a culture that you want to be a part of every day. The more I dug into Triskele Labs, their leadership and direction I found myself drawn in. I saw their holistic and human-centric approach to cyber security, so I reached out to Nick Morgan, Triskele Labs CEO, and told him literally, “I’m your guy” for a job they had advertised. I followed up again and again and when we got to talking, we found an opportunity in business development.”

What guidance would you give someone applying for jobs after upskilling to cyber security?

“To join the cyber industry, you need to push yourself to get a foot in the door and craft how you can grow and pivot.

My advice to anyone joining the industry is; before you know what you want to do, you need to know who you are. Start with that – define who you are, let that grow into who you want to be. From there, you can start to answer where you want to be in your professional life. It’s a lot easier to pinpoint the how from there. Be ready to shift your perceptions and assumptions. The industry has opportunities for people from all sorts of backgrounds. Wherever you’re coming from, you need to be able to break down what you’re good at into key components and demonstrate how they’re relatable, transferable or complementary to the cyber security industry. Be self-aware to know how to deliver.

Lastly, talk to as many cyber security folks as you can. Network, connect and have conversations. The greatest thing to propel you in the industry will be your peers. No amount of qualifications, hours or skills will make you better than someone who can develop great relationships.”

How do you prepare for a cyber security interview? What are the most important things to remember and discuss with a potential employer?

“It’s all about Level of Preparation. Dial it up to 11. Off the chart. If you don’t feel over-prepared, you’re not ready. Make sure you can articulate your story. Have a clear understanding of who you are, what you want, why you want it, where you’re going, what you can contribute and what you’re willing to do to make it work.

Know as much about your prospective employer, company and its staff as you can. You need to know who you are interviewing for. I make sure I’m interviewing the employer as well. They need to be the right fit for me too. In line with who I am, supportive of my ambition and direction as well as share a mutual belief of possibilities.”

Your Capstone project and presentation are coming up soon – how are you preparing?

“I started thinking about this when I began the course. I’ve looked at what some other students in previous cohorts have done. I’ve started thinking outside the box, about what I’m learning and where the overlap is between the course content and my cumulative experiences, so I find a unique way to demonstrate my strengths and development within cyber security.”

What are some tips you would give someone preparing for their Capstone project during the cyber security program?

“Don’t just think about what your teacher or potential employers want to hear and see. Think about who you are and what you can contribute to the industry as an emerging cyber security professional. The more curiosity, creativity and diversity we can bring to cyber, the better off the industry will be. Let’s demystify cyber security and make it empowering!”

Do you have any advice for professionals making a career change or entering the field of cyber security?

“Enrol in the Institute of Data Cyber Program with UTS today. But be open minded, round out your learning – make it interactive, structured, self-driven and connected. Build solid relationships with peers and other professionals. Always be clear on your intentions. Someone will be willing to help if you can demonstrate a desire to help yourself.”

How do you compare your career situation now to 6-12 months ago?

“Six months ago, all I saw was the crash-landing travel industry. Now, I see more possibilities than ever before. One of the exciting things about the beginning of this journey is that there’s such an incredible opportunity to learn, grow and move within the cyber industry. From roles that are super technical, to people focused and everything in between.”

In your opinion, how did the program change your perspective on what is required to be a modern cyber professional?

“The course validated there isn’t a pre-requisite amount of technical skills needed to start your cyber journey. One thing increasingly clear is that there is not a ‘type’, ‘one best way’ or ‘one size fits all’ for what’s required. Curiosity goes a long way. Be ready to work really hard and know there’s a great reward in doing so.”

Is there anything else you would like to add or any final thoughts?

“You have to take a chance on yourself as much as you’re asking someone to take a chance on you. Cyber security stands on the pillars of people, processes and technology. Across those, there is an inspiring range of humans that can contribute to the efficacy of great cyber security.

Ask yourself, ‘What is the legacy I want to leave?’ Fall in love with possibilities.

If I can help you in any way on your cyber security journey get in touch.”

Connect with Ez on LinkedIn here.

If you are interested in up-skilling and landing a role in the Cyber Security industry, register here to attend our upcoming free webinar or book a consultation with a Data Industry Career Consultant today.

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