New Careers and First Days: An Unexpected Journey

Wallet? Check.
Keys? Check.
New work laptop? Check.
First day nerves? Check.

Time to jump in the car and to start the 25 mile commute to my new career.

During the journey, a thought crosses my mind like a street light reflection flashing across a windscreen at night. Not the usual, did I make the right choice, am I going to fit in? Following my interview with Directors Stuart and Dave, I had no concerns on either of those. Their vision for the business was clear, as was what would be expected of me.

No, the notion that cross my mind was far more positive.

Like all good stories there’s a pivotal point for the protagonist. Let’s call our protagonist ‘Dave’. Why Dave? Because that is my name.

Two and a half years ago I (Dave) was working for a Financial Institution, heading up a Financial Crime team. The role was interesting, complex and intensely satisfying. But something else was missing. No real chance of progression with my current skill set, within my current employer or external. I know! I thought, I’ll sit my financial crime exams…a great idea. That’ll fix everything.

Research started in earnest on what exams were available, who was a credible learning partner and what certificate would get me to my goal. But, I still didn’t feel to me like I was ‘choosing’ my career at this point. I was good at the job, had trained others well, but I had fallen into the Financial Crime role and enjoyable as it was, I didn’t really chose it.

One day, whilst logging a minor fraud case, I was reviewing the IP address of an alleged offender and the device details. All low level investigation basics. I mused: I wonder how GCHQ and MI5 do this? After all, we’re both stopping crime, just at very different ends of the scale.

I wonder what roles undertake that kind of investigation.

Straight to Google, c o m p u t e r  c r I m r [delete], c r I m e – SEARCH. About 270,000 results.


Blackhat, Whitehat, Greyhat, DDoS, InfoSec, Routers, Firewalls, Malware, Vulnerability testing.

Down the rabbit hole I went. Deeper and deeper until a totally unexpected solution presented itself.

I’m going to be an Ethical Hacker. I was certain of it. In fact, I’d never been more certain of anything, ever.

I had always had an uncanny knack with computers and most technology. But, I’d never really understood how they operated, or how to fix them. Or even how I manged to wipe my RoboCop game on my Amstrad 6128k (insert age joke here).

How am I going to learn 20 years-worth of technology development? Online learning. Perfect.

Desktop Support, Network and Security Certifications, within 2 years I’d obtained them all. If this was a movie, there would be a montage of me studying, but you’ll just have to imagine that yourself.

After a one year stint as desktop support – a role all IT professionals should have to do for at least one year – there was just one more exam to go. Certified Ethical Hacker. The big one.

Dave settling into his first week at Optec

Back to my first day and my first journey to Optec – which at that point was the home office of one of the Directors, Dave.

I arrive at his home, he welcomes me and we have a coffee together, before he outlines my role in more detail, our customers, our services and where I fit in to all this. I am beyond excited at what’s laid in front of me.

“Oh, I had to look at an office on the weekend,” he jams into the conversation.

“Really?”I exclaimed.

“Yeah, in Cardiff,”Dave explains. We need somewhere we can expand from, the work is coming in thick and fast and we’re going to need more space quickly.”

“Wow, I’ve only been here 1 hour and we’re expanding already?”

Day 2: I’m back to Dave’s home office. “We’re picking up the new office keys tomorrow,”he says. This guy moves fast. We have a coffee to celebrate.

Day 3: Pick up keys for office, shown around by the landlord. Find coffee immediately. Spend the rest of the day digging into our monitoring systems and fine tuning them.

Day 4: Desk delivery, make up office, more coffee and I start looking at internal security controls.

Day 5: Sat in newly constructed office at 9am (with another coffee), thinking I’m not entirely sure what happened this week, but I’m enjoying this.

As first weeks go, it was the most exciting I’d ever experienced. Plenty to learn, straight into the action and meeting my new colleagues.

We went from home office to big office in 5 days, we planned out the future of the team and we drank a fair amount of coffee.

And what of my positive revelation on my first day commute?

I’ve secured the role I wanted, in the only career I’ve ever chosen myself. I did it. I actually did it.

I think I’ll buy myself a coffee to celebrate.

Get to know Dave.

The new Cardiff office is now open, so feel free to stop by, meet Dave and learn more about how Optec can help your organisation tackle your biggest cybersecurity challenges.

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