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Finding fulfilment in my InfoSec career through volunteering

What does a successful career mean to you?

For some, it could mean building up experience and strengthening your knowledge and skills. For others, it might involve doing something that has a positive social impact. 

For Tom, a Senior Penetration Tester in our InfoSec area, it’s a bit of both! With an established career in InfoSec, Tom finds fulfilment in supporting the next generation of cyber experts by using his Impact Hours, which at Admiral means swapping your working hours to volunteer your time doing something close to your hearts. We asked Tom about his experience volunteering with Cyber College Cymru. 

 

 
Hi Tom, firstly can you tell us a bit about your role at Admiral? 

Hello, I’m Tom, and I’m a Senior Penetration Tester within the InfoSec department. I’ve worked in the field for over 25 years and have been part of the team here at Admiral for almost five years. 

My job involves testing software applications and systems to check whether they have any vulnerabilities that can be exploited by a malicious attack. When my team finds a potential problem, we report this back to the development team for the system so that they can remediate. Basically, we try to hack it first, so people with harmful intentions can’t! 


Great! So, what is Cyber College Cymru, and what’s your involvement?  

Cyber College Cymru is an initiative that involves several Admiral colleagues, and other partners outside of Admiral, delivering cyber related workshops to students at local South Wales colleges.  

When I first heard about Cyber College Cymru in 2019, I immediately knew that I wanted to be involved, and thankfully because of our Impact Hours initiative at Admiral where all colleagues can use up to two full working days to volunteer each year, it meant that I didn’t have to sacrifice any of my annual leave to do so! 

I first delivered some courses virtually in 2020 and I’ve been involved ever since. We’ve shifted to in-person sessions now, which is much more beneficial for everyone involved. I’ve also been responsible for creating a Cloud based infrastructure environment to support the “Capture the Flag” events that we include in the Cyber College Cymru syllabus.  

Why was it important for you to volunteer your time with Cyber College Cymru? 

The opportunity to potentially impact young people’s future careers is really exciting for me. Explaining a complex cyber concept, watching the wise nods as they sponge up the information, and then demonstrating a practical experience of what they’ve learned is so fulfilling. 

I genuinely feel like we’re sowing the seeds of greater things and nurturing the next generation of tech and cyber experts. I think the exposure that Cyber College Cymru provides to young people from different roles in STEM is very valuable. I volunteer with the RAF Air Cadets in my spare time, and the reasoning is similar, it’s important to me to pass on some of the skills and knowledge to those that follow. 

What impact has it had on their development and your own? 

Having been involved for a long period, it’s quite clear that the sessions are valuable and enjoyable for the students. There are individual learning moments along the way, and a more general exposure to ‘this thing called cyber’. It really is fantastic to see so many hard working students graduate from the Cyber College at the end of their course! 

For my development, I believe that the best way to learn a subject is to try to teach it to someone else. I’ve been in the cyber industry a long time, and it is easy to forget what you know, so it’s great that from teaching these concepts and ideas to the Cyber College students, I can draw on my own knowledge and experiences. 

 

We share your passion to make a difference 

Like Tom, so many of our colleagues are passionate about giving back to local communities, which is why we encourage all of our colleagues to use their Impact Hours each year.  

If you loved Tom’s story, check out how Pankaj Kane, our Chief Engineer, uses his Impact Hours to mentor women at the start of their tech careers

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