We have all heard the question on podcasts and in interviews… “What do you wish you knew ‘then’ that you know ‘now’?”. I’ve never really thought about what I would say to my younger self until recently when I considered the skills I have needed and used most across my career. In addition, of course, to the subject matter specifics needed for a career in information security, I would share this with my 20-year-old self:
You have a long road ahead. Having left University halfway through to join the workforce and study off-campus, you have created a path of challenging hurdles to jump having walked away from the classroom environment. However, you will now have some amazing life experience to pour into your assignments which is certainly an advantage. Your career path will be an interesting one and if I can give you some advice as to one of the best things you can do, it would be this - become great at public speaking. If you can add the experience of public speaking to any other skill, you not only become more employable, you can become a voice for others. Agreeing to speak publically leads you to research, be confident in your subject matter, to speak to any audience, to influence and to inspire. If you are on a path to make a change in the world, take opportunities afforded to you to speak up. Learn to speak with authority, knowledge and accuracy through small, deliberate steps forward. This skill will not only set you ahead of literally millions of others who suffer speech anxiety (studies have found that people would rather die than speak publically…!) but also those who can’t articulate their point in front of a large group and those whose ideas may never be shared wider than their inner circle.
In the coming years, you will speak to boards of multinationals, advise directors of charities and give evidence in courts of law. Your public speaking skills will be instrumental in staying calm and putting others at ease – which is especially needed if you plan to work in the security industry.
Believe me, it won’t be easy and you will make some mistakes as you go – but anytime you have an opportunity to practice public speaking, feel the fear and do it anyway. You will thank yourself later…
When we consider the skills needed to be a security professional, most people would come up with a list of things like resilient, technical, collaborative, analytical. These (and more) are critical skills that make our security community valuable. When you join any of these skills with the rare ability to confidently speak to an audience, you will be seen in a whole new light. As a security leader, what would you tell your 20-year-old self?