From Designing Logos to Securing Networks: Hanz’s Journey into Cyber Security

Hanz Johanas Cyber Security Technician

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Hanz Johannes has had an eventful career trajectory filled with intuitive decision-making and problem-solving. His passion was always rooted in design and tech, and his job roles ranged from graphic design to sales and marketing. 

We have the pleasure of working with Hanz at the Institute of Data, where his intuitive nature and proactive & friendly attitude make him an ideal colleague. 

Hanz is also a recent Institute of Data Cyber Security Bootcamp graduate.

We got together with Hanz to learn more about his journey and what prompted him to pursue a career in cyber security.

1. How did you first become interested in the tech space?

It started with my first Intel computer, which greatly fascinated me despite its limited memory. I was interested in how the machine came together to be so capable.

I remember growing up with dial-up, and my interest in tech was piqued as I watched the industry rapidly evolve.

I’ve always had a creative mindset, so I pursued graphic design.

But my genuine interest was always towards tech and software, and now I see how that part of problem-solving in the graphic design process kept me hooked.

2. What was your professional background and experience before beginning the course?

Moving on from graphic design, I got into sales simply by chance, and even though I never planned to pursue it, the highlight of my career has been working with small and medium-sized businesses in sales and operations.

I have managed stores, sales, and operations professionally, among other responsibilities, but the primary focus has always been driving results.

3. What motivated you to take the leap and sign up for the cyber security course with the Institute of Data?

It all started during my initial job interview with the executive director at the Institute of Data – Andrew Campbell, for a course advisor role. I remember him saying:

“Hanz, you sound like a great candidate for cyber security. But do you really want to be a course advisor?”

Initially, I brushed it off because I thought cyber security did not match my professional skill set. However, the more I talked to people interested in the course, the more it sparked an internal debate about whether this was for me.

As I talked to people in my course advisor role, I was effectively doing secondary research to understand whether this could work for me.

I soon realised the course ticked all the boxes for me, so I decided the next best course of action was to take the course.

4. Why did you choose to study with the Institute of Data over another institution?

The primary reason I chose to go with the Institute of Data is that I knew the data and statistics behind the scenes, and for me, the credibility and results were highly reassuring.

It was past contemplation for me, because even researching a new institute would have taken me a month or two, and everything about the Institute of Data plan was structured perfectly.

5. That sounds interesting! What techniques or methods did you use to help you get through the course?

The best method was to focus on the small steps. Also, practising outside study hours with a compound effect mentality helped me. I learnt this method by reading a book called The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy.

That is what I incorporated into my learning method while I was studying.

Being proactive as a learner is also important, which was another plus point of being a geek. I focused on the topics we had just learned and did more reading and practice to understand them better.

When you commit to learning, you must brush aside the uncertainty and work through the challenges. 

6. Multiple resources are available as part of the courses at the Institute of Data. Did you utilise any of these resources during the course?

I utilised all of them, from the peer network and the assistance of the tutors to the job outcomes support team!

As a fresher in the course, I considered myself a non-IT individual despite a background in graphic design and an interest in technology.

I knew I would need all the support I could get, mainly because it had been a while since I studied formally.

For the Institute of Data courses, there is always one instructor for every five students. We had seven students in our class, so we had two trainers- one lead trainer and one assistant trainer.

In my course, the trainers ensured everyone was moving forward at the same pace, and the help was always there. 

For instance, if I had any issues with solving the lab work, I could consult a trainer, and we would immediately shift to solution mode. 

“So for any issue I raised, they would ask to look at my process of finding the solution first, and before helping me, they would make sure that I tried to find the answers independently.” 

This helped tremendously because, by the end of the course, I could solve problems and find answers by myself. In addition, solving a challenging question by yourself builds up your problem-solving skills, and you can remember the solution for much longer.

Initially, I was also concerned about whether taking the course remotely would be a good idea.

I had never taken a class this way before, and I felt that with IT, I would need someone to review my computer monitors if I needed help.

However, it turned out to be a significant benefit at the end of the day.

It worked perfectly with my schedule, I never had to worry about parking, and I never felt distanced from my instructors because their support was always there.

With the job outcome program, the primary benefit is that we have access to the coach from the very beginning of the course. So I got in touch with them early to set up a goal and a timeline for how I could plan to transition into the industry.

I showed them what I could do, my level, and where I wanted to go. Based on that, they can provide practical advice that helps my skills and mindset stay relevant to the tech industry.

7. What was your experience with building your capstone project?

For my capstone project, the topic was Cyber Security – Maturity Through Social Engineering. In my prior positions, I had seen the issues businesses face with their security first-hand.

Unfortunately, there is a definite lack of awareness and initiative among smaller companies regarding cyber security threats. I believe there are three reasons for this:

  1. Businesses are concerned more about making money than spending and investing it.
  2. Smaller-sized companies are generally either afraid of technology or need help understanding it.
  3. They believe that since they are a smaller business, cyber criminals will not consider attacking them.

I considered two quotes while attempting to increase the cyber security maturity of the target firms.

The first quote says: “Hackers don’t cause breaches; people do.”

And that is true- the weakest part of cyber security is the people involved with the businesses.

However, another quote that flips that weakness and turns the perspective into one of strength is… 

“People are not the weakest link in cyber security. They’re the strongest link because they’re the first defence line in cyber security.”

For the soft side of my project, I devised a small poster of 10 ways that the target firms could apply to become cyber secure.

For the technical side of my project, I did a physical and ethical penetration test on a friend’s business.

I used a few targeted social engineering techniques to obtain their password. I had their permission to conduct these tests.

The added benefit was that, as a result of my penetration tests, we trained their team to protect against these threats, and I think this is a great project outcome.

8. Has the Institute of Data’s cyber security certification prepared you for the real-world industry?

Yes, I feel ready!

The day I finished the course, I felt both disbelief and excitement.

Going forward, there will be an initial learning curve since I have yet to learn many things, and there is also the challenge of getting that first job and settling into it.

But, I am ready for the future and excited to begin a new role in cyber security after finishing my contract with the Institute of Data.

The core idea of the course is to prepare students for a job in the real world from day one. I love that my mind muscles are stretched daily, and I constantly learn new things daily.

9. What advice would you give those making a career change or considering a career change in cyber security?

If I have to summarise my advice in one sentence, it is this: 

“You are enough; you can do it”. 

With most students, there is a pattern of three questions during their initial planning:

  1. Can I do it? 
  2. Does it work? 
  3. Is it worth it?

The answer to all these lies in how serious you are. If you’re serious and want to make a change, it is all possible, and yes- you are “enough”.


If you are looking for a career transition into tech and pursuing your dream job, book a career consultation with one of our experts at the Institute of Data and start your journey with an actionable plan.

You can connect with Hanz and follow his professional journey on LinkedIn.

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