Where did you grow up?
I was born in Ireland, before moving to the UK at two years old. There, I completed most of the primary school before being moved across the world to Australia at 10 years old, where I completed the remainder of primary school, high school, and university. Before AMP, the only proper job I had was in a dry-cleaning business for five years, which was mainly a customer service job, with some ironing and cleaning thrown in!
How did you get to your current job position?
Initially, I joined AMP on the graduate program in Technology. This involved six-month rotations across different teams, with my third rotation being within the Cyber team. At the end of that six months, I was offered a permanent position as a Cyber Analyst! This was a role that was a bit of everything – assisting with vulnerability management, reporting, data analytics, and more across the Cyber team. Then, in late 2019, I was promoted to 'Threat Intel Specialist'. This is a new role within the team, looking after threat intelligence. I’ve now been in the role for just over two months. I’m still getting used to it and it’s really challenging but such a growth opportunity.
How did you choose your specialisation?
When applying for positions, I wanted to try and get into a graduate program which offered the opportunity to try different thing, and also a strong training and development program. I really saw the benefits of being able to rotate through different parts of a business, and along the way build my skills and gain knowledge across different spaces.
There were a variety of industries I was looking at – some of which were more Technology focused, and others were more generalised, or maths focussed, aligned with my core studies. After looking through different options, I could see that working in the Technology space would be best for me.
As time goes on, companies that are not traditionally seen as tech companies or being within a tech industry will move in that direction, as more and more services are consumed online and more processes are automated. I wanted to be a part of this and working in this industry seemed like a no-brainer to me, as it allowed me to use what I had learned while also being able to progress and improve those skills in my career.
What was your interview process like?
For the AMP graduate program, there were several different stages through the recruitment process. Firstly, there was online testing after the application. Then, a video interview, and finally an onsite assessment centre, which involved both group activities and an individual presentation and interviews. This was a great chance to meet lots of people across the business, as well as other graduates and graduate alumni.
The questions were generally less specific, or specialisation focused, particularly in the beginning, and more focused around ways of working, values and behaviours, and responding to different scenarios. Within the one on one interview, there were more technical questions from some interviewers, that covered more around what coding experience I had, and examples of more technical solutions to problems or issues.
What does your employer do?
I work for AMP, which is a financial services company. They provide banking, superannuation, financial advice, and insurance services to Australia and New Zealand, and are an international investment manager through our AMP Capital business.
What are your areas of responsibility?
I work within the part of Cyber Security that is responsible for detection and response. The first area of responsibility I have is to perform continuous monitoring and hunting for threats within the environment, based on gathered threat intelligence, which can come from many different sources. I then use this intelligence to output actions that can be completed by the team in order to mitigate the discovered threats.
Secondly, this threat intelligence is used to provide actionable and readable reports for senior management and beyond and includes providing input into how the evolving threat landscape influences AMP’s risk profile when it comes to Cyber Security. This can be part of regular reports and is also in response to emerging threats or incidents elsewhere in Australia or the industry.
Can you describe a typical workday?
There are a number of things that I could do in a typical workday, every day is different! I sometimes spend time doing some threat hunting, where I go through various sources to look for indicators of certain behaviours within the AMP environment. There are also days where I work with our Awareness manager to produce responses for senior management when a significant incident in the wider industry receives attention, and we need to know whether we are also exposed to a similar vector of attack. Wider than that, there are a number of strategic pieces in flight currently. A specific piece of current work is a Vulnerability Management strategy piece, to evolve our current vulnerability management to the next stage of threat-based management.
What are the career prospects of your job?
There are a number of places that someone in my position could go. There are a lot of skills and knowledge within Cyber Security that is transferable between roles. There are more technical roles, in managing wider detection and response or the SOC that someone could move to, or across into assurance or governance, which is a more risk-based function. Cyber Security is a growing industry, and there will continue to be several roles and work required in this area as time goes on.
What would your career be if you weren’t doing what you’re doing now?
I genuinely have no idea! During my second rotation at AMP I worked in the Financial Modelling team, which wasn’t IT-based, but more mathematical based. I did enjoy that line of work, so may have considered applying for a job in that space, and not ending up permanently in Technology. That was what I saw as one of the benefits of the grad program – that I couldn’t predict where I would end up, but I hoped I would enjoy whatever I did and find my career path. And I have!
What do you love the most about your job?
For Cyber Security as a wider function, what I’ve always loved is the changing nature of the job and getting to work on a variety of different things as the landscape shifts. The job is always interesting to me, as there could always be some new technology or a new situation that we need to respond to, which means that I’m rarely bored.
For my new role, in particular, I enjoy being able to think outside of the box and having to come up with new ways to identify and mitigate threats. Being able to work with people in a cross-functional way, across the wider cyber team, means I get a lot of exposure to different parts of the team, and how these different parts work and operate.
What’s the biggest limitation of your job?
There are some limitations, as with any job. The stress levels can be high, particularly in my new role as I’ve just moved into the role and am involved in trying to set up a lot of new processes. As time goes on and I get more comfortable, I expect this to drop. However, there will always be an element of stress for me in this area, due to the responsive and changing nature of the job. That is also what keeps it so challenging and interesting.
At times there can be the need to respond out of normal office hours - with jobs that are based around responding to real-time events, this is a norm and something you work within.