I’m currently working as a Security and Information Risk Advisor (SIRA) in the public sector. I’m independently certified by CESG (now NCSC) as a Security and Information Risk Advisor, and also as a Cyber Security / Information Assurance Auditor.
After leaving School, I initially joined the Police as a civilian ‘Emergency Call Handler’. Answering calls from distressed members of the public, with the added pressure of getting an understanding of a situation, calming someone down and also quickly typing that information into a computer system to get help on the way, really taught me some useful communication and IT skills!
After just over two years of that, I progressed into what was known as an “Operations Coordinator” in a Police control room. That meant I received the incident logs from the 999 operators and had to coordinate a response to the emergency. That was anything from asking a Police response car, specialist resources (such as traffic police, dog handlers and firearms officers), or even the Police helicopter, to attend an emergency incident.
I’m not going to lie, that was a stressful job, and on occasion, I left my work feeling like I’d done a round or two in the boxing ring. I had to juggle multiple incidents, maintain several lines of communication (phone, radio, in person) at once, and also accept new incidents and resource them as quickly as I could… It was a juggling act, and one I was acutely aware had people’s lives depending on me at times.
Not only did I do that as a full-time job, I also volunteered as a Special Constable (usually working at least 30 hours a week for free), and also separately achieved a Diploma in Criminal Justice from Napier University at the same time…
After that job hasn’t put me off the Police (in fact, it made me more determined!) I joined as a full time, regular Police Officer.
I worked front line, as part of an Emergency Response Team. That meant attending a wide variety of incidents from shootings, car crashes, murders, petty crime like theft and vandalism, and everything in between! Whilst in the role, I worked short stints with the Dog Section (the highlight of which was when I caught a man who’d just tried to kill someone)… And I also worked for a short time in what was called the ‘Flexible Policing Team’, who were tasked daily with patrolling problem areas upon request of an area commander in need of more resource at short notice. The team was part of the ‘Violence Reduction Unit’.
Over the 12 years in total, in various roles, I learned many valuable soft skills, such as:
- effective communication (both verbally and written) in difficult or stressful situations
- Conflict resolution tactics
- Critical decision making under pressure
- A high standard of legal document completion
- Multi-agency collaborative working
- Stress management
- Emergency life support (used practically in real life situations)
- Effective self-management with regards to time and workload
- Managing risk to various parties including the public
- Risk assessing ongoing and dynamic incidents to ensure public safety in highly dangerous scenarios using relevant training.
That is just some experience from my time in the Police. I enjoyed my time serving as a Constable, and met some fantastic colleagues (and my wife!) along the way. 😁
On the risk assessment side of things, one of the biggest parts of being a Police officer is risk assessing everything.
What's the risk of this person having a knife? What's the risk of the missing person I've just taken a report of committing suicide? What's the risk of this unexploded bomb found on a beach going off? What's the risk of me driving at high speeds with blue lights to get to an incident?
Risk assessment was part of my daily routine. In 2016, I decided to change my career path away from operational Policing, by joining a department of the Civil Service in what is a very exciting time of change and growth for them.
Initially, I started in an ‘estates’ team, and was given responsibility for physical Security and also health and safety. Lots of risk assessing required!
The security aspect of my new job, such as formulating counter terrorism plans, dealing with CCTV system management and informing security policy was second nature to me.
Risk assessment was a big part of the role, and during my time in the team I completed an NVQ3 in Occupational Health and Safety. This allowed me to use my acquired skills to prove my existing experience, but also taught new skills like carrying out specific legislative risk assessments, such as Fire Risk and General risk assessments (of which I carried out many for a consultancy firm pro bono). All this allowed me to develop my risk assessment skills and knowledge.
After a year doing that, my knack for assessing risk must have been spotted, as I picked to move into a newly created role within a “Security and Information Assurance” team. My new job title was ‘Assistant Security and Information Risk Advisor’… or ‘assistant SIRA’ for short.
The role was a steep learning curve, but one I embraced. I found a passion for Information Security, and it couldn’t have come at a better time in the industry.
Ransomware like Wannacry hit the world by storm (and not in a good way!), huge data breaches were being reported almost weekly, and impending EU General Data Protection Regulations rocketed the importance of InfoSec into the fore!
After starting my new career in the Cyber Security / InfoSec world, I’ve taken as many learning opportunists as possible, and developed my technical knowledge ten fold.
As part of a further fantastic opportunity, I’m currently working on secondment to a front line cyber security team as a Security Analyst, and I’m loving every minute of it!
For more information on my experience and qualifications / certifications, check out my CV page.
And if your considering a career in Cyber Security, feel free to get in touch! I’m more than happy to talk about my path so far, and how some of the experience I’ve picked up along the way can assist others starting out in this exciting and growing industry. 🤓