A Personal Journey to Cyber Security: An Interview with Gregory De Jersey

Case Study Gregory De Jersey cyber security

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Before joining the Institute of Data, Gregory De Jersey went through multiple challenges in his personal life that left him no choice but to choose a new career path that would help him leverage his mental skills rather than leave him dependent on his physical strength. 

With working experience in multiple industries and a passion for teaching, science fiction, and IT, a career in tech and networking felt like an inner calling. We got together with Gregory recently to learn more about his journey. 

1. Why did you choose cyber security as your career?

I have provided security services to small businesses for over 20 years and have worked with various clients during this period. The most significant push to explore cyber security as a career and academic field came from client queries. Whenever they asked me more about the best cyber security strategies or tools, I always thought my answers were inadequate and incomplete.

To counter any possible miscommunication and understand the field better, I started to research and self-study. I was intrigued by how massive cybersecurity is, how it overarches into organizational structures, and how it is an integral part of the service package for any client. The more I learned about how deep it is and how it can help me defend assets with my intellectual powers, the more I yearned to pursue cybersecurity. 

Before pivoting to a career in cybersecurity with the Institute of Data, I had another business supporting me. I got so serious and passionate about doing the best job that I handed that business to a work friend. The plan was to be free of any other professional responsibilities and give cybersecurity my complete focus.

2. Why did you choose to study with the Institute of Data?

I explored several institutions and resources to learn about cyber security. I picked the Institute of Data because they were affiliated with UTS (The University of Technology Sydney). Since I had dealt with Sydney University before and the curriculum of all the courses looked great, I had more confidence to pursue the course with them.

3. What was your experience like with the bootcamp classes? Did any memorable moments empower you to continue this new career trajectory? 

There were several moments where it felt empowering to feel the progress, see the milestones met, and collaborate with people who are also changing the industry or shifting to cybersecurity specifically. The best part was seeing students of different learning levels and approaches coming together. 

Every student was open to learning together and sharing solutions; my peers were usually my first stop for finding solutions. We would only go to our tutors or other authoritative figures if we were still seeking a solution. They were extremely helpful and on-point with their approaches.

There was never an answer provided that didn’t work out. So getting to the solutions was empowering, and it was always fantastic having that support and ongoing relationships with peers and staff.

4. How did the trainer help you achieve your academic and professional goals? 

Our trainer, Raza, was very supportive, and his explanations were always clear. He was very careful to hear us out in detail, and no matter what came up, the students always felt very well supported by his approach.

5. How did you prepare for the capstone project, and what were the highlights of your experience?

The capstone project was at the end of my six-month program, and there was only a little discussion beforehand. I had an idea of what I wanted to do for the capstone. I wasn’t sure whether or not that was in scope until the discussion near the end of the course. I was excited to pursue it when I realized it was within the scope of the syllabus and wholly original, as no one had addressed it.

I took an analytical approach to my project, which started with a lot of reading and discussions. I read through the paperwork multiple times and then discussed my ideas with my peers and the lecturer; I love measuring, following up, and monitoring every important thing, so I felt prepared when I started the actual work. Otherwise, I might have been unsure of my exact approach.

What I’d impart to others is to share to learn more. That’s what’s great about the staff and peer network. Your fellow student is more than just someone you meet and remember. They’re your industry contacts for life going forward, and it was thrilling to develop solutions alongside them. 

When I had finally completed my capstone project and was ready to share, my excitement for the results was nothing short of what I had expected. It was an absolute thrill. I loved it!

6. How did the career coaching session with the Institute of Data help you land a job?

After graduation, I waited three months for my first career coaching session. I had a few sessions while training, and I found them to be very informative. I was confident and interactive in the training sessions, but that was not enough to land a job since the industry does not work that way.

I did not know how much the silent period in my job application process bothered me until I had the career coaching session with Melinda. Just talking about things felt therapeutic. There was also the extra support with suggestions for tools, strategies, and options I hadn’t tried yet.

I was aware of these methods during the course, but my prior habits were hardwired into my mind, and they took over. I had to understand that I was in a foreign industry where I needed to pay attention to these other modes of engagement. Slowing down the pace and talking about the things bothering me helped reduce my anxiety. By the end of the call, I was a bubbling bundle of joy and a lot more optimistic.

I learned a lot about the leaders in the industry – and the not-so-leaders. I had always worked with small businesses, but ironically, I got a role in a massive corporation in Australia.

7. How did you land the job that you are currently working at?

I am currently working at Cyber CX– a company spread out across Australia, NZ, the UK, and Canada. I applied to this company early in my job hunting process, around the end of my capstone project, when I needed to figure out what area of cybersecurity I wanted to work in. Since I didn’t hear back for a while, I thought these big corporations weren’t interested in me, so I started focusing on job opportunities with small businesses.

Then, I got a phone call out of the blue, and I was surprised to learn that I had bagged an interview. So, I applied for a Governance Risk and Compliance (GRC) role because it was more closely aligned with my personality. 

The interviews were not one-on-one. Instead, there were a bunch of people in this room. There were six people in one of my interviews, which was somewhat confronting. However, since I checked out the company and its clientele, I confidently walked into the interview.

When they asked me why I applied for this role, I turned it around and said since they were the experts and in charge, I would like to know if they felt there was another role I was more suited for. Then I gave my reasons for choosing the GRC role, and they were very responsive throughout. Even though I felt my response was cheeky, I would later learn that the hiring managers appreciated my approach.

In such a fast-paced environment where things can change rapidly, employers need dependable people who can adapt when the circumstances change and be relied upon. That’s still something the leaders recall about me – that I’m flexible and adaptable.

8. What are your current job title and professional responsibilities?

I have been a networking and infrastructure solution (NIS) associate with the NSW NIS (New South Wales Networking and Infrastructure Solution) team for around eight months since July.

Most of my workflow is based on shadowing my colleagues. I attend both internal and client meetings with Zoom and Microsoft Teams. 

I attend every meeting with a client with the intent to get questions that I can follow up on and learn from, which helps me to think about what I’ve heard and seen. So I always make sure to be present, take notes, revise them, and prepare questions that can be turned into actionable steps to improve a situation.

The internal meetings are just as important, as they show you how the company operates, approaches, and manages things. Everybody’s personality has a bearing on their role, so three people with the same role will do things differently. Of course, the company will have its guides that govern the boundaries of each position and its duties, but variances can happen within. When you know your colleagues and their different ways of doing things, you learn who you want to work with in particular circumstances and why. 

That might sound bad, but that’s a good thing because our company has a great culture of using the best of what we have in the right way, which is collaborative and promotes upskilling.

9. Did your salary package meet your expectations?

Yes, I negotiated in my 3rd interview and haven’t had to negotiate since.

10. What would your message be for aspiring students with a similar background?

If I could give them one piece of advice, it would be never to undervalue people networking. People don’t have to be superheroes to be reliable, friendly help. They will value you when you help them out, be very thankful, and want to keep in touch. It’s also bidirectional, so you’ll grow together.

Going with the Institute of Data was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It prepared me well for the role I’ve gotten into, and the ongoing support has been incredible. I still hear from my peers and lectures from IoD. We chat on Whatsapp, and other conversations stem from there. I am still learning the corporate world, and it is going great!

Conclusion

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

You can connect with Gregory and follow his journey on LinkedIn. 

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