CSM Graduate 2011-2012
"Skills and learning relevant for global industry"
Stuart studied for his MSc in Cyber Security and Management at WMG from 2011 to 2012. We recently caught up with him to find out more about his career journey. Since graduating, Stuart has held several positions within the cyber sector; ranging from Solutions Architect to Network Consulting Engineer roles. Currently, he works as a Solutions Engineer for Akamai Technologies; a company specialising in cloud-based solutions.
Stuart told us that his time at WMG really opened up doors to new job opportunities. He has worked in roles around the world; from Berlin to the Middle East. He also emphasised the importance of his time at WMG and, how working with students from around the world on the course, really developed his global outlook and his confidence to take up work opportunities overseas.
Stuart was also keen to highlight the soft skills that he learned at WMG, and how these have been invaluable to his career journey to date. "No-one tells you how important presentation skills really are in the world of work. I'm really grateful that WMG incorporated these skills within the MSc programme."
When we initially talked to Stuart after graduation, we asked him to describe his time at Warwick and how what he learned helped him to progress his career.
Stuart joined us soon after gaining a first class BSc Hons in Computer Networks at the University of Derby. We asked him why he decided to study for an MSc – and why specifically in cyber security?
“While I was studying at Derby, I did a year’s work placement with a telecoms and IT solutions provider. Through this, I gained some exposure to compliance and security which really sparked my interest in the area. To build my specific knowledge and skills though, it was clear that I would need to continue my studies. An MSc was the natural route to take.
“I already knew of WMG’s reputation and one of my tutors at Derby also recommended the University. Having Warwick on my CV would, I thought, give me a higher profile as a potential employee with leading organisations.”
Stuart arrived at WMG in October 2011 ready to begin his course. Coming from a city campus at Derby though, he found the environment a complete change. “I’d call it a ‘proper’ campus,” he said. “Everything is here in one place and everyone around you, be they students or staff, is connected with the University. It’s also a very green and attractive campus with lots of open spaces. I guess you could say that I felt right at home straight away!”
The course itself was very different to Stuart’s previous academic experience, with one-week’s intensive study of each module, followed by six weeks to complete assignments. “It was extremely challenging at first,” he commented. “I actually felt quite exhausted after completing my first week of 9am-6pm days. I got used to it pretty quickly though and after the first couple of modules, I actually realised that this is a much better way to study.
“During the intensive week you dive deep into each subject and absorb far more information than you realise at the time. Then, as you carry out further research and investigation for your assignment, that information becomes firmly embedded through exploring different aspects of the subject.”
Although Stuart came to us with some knowledge of many of the technical aspects of the programme, the business and management subjects were completely new to him. “This is where I learned the most,” he explained. “Particularly modules like Leadership and Organisations, People & Performance: these were fascinating and made me think of business and management in a completely new way.
“Carrying out group activities with fellow students was a big eye-opener too. I learned a massive amount by working with people from different backgrounds and cultures. Looking back now, I can see just how innovative and effective this way of learning is, compared with just sitting through lectures all the while. You discover things for yourself and learn to work collaboratively with others who bring new outlooks and opinions. This is wholly relevant to today’s workplace, and I find myself applying what I learned constantly in my job.”
For his dissertation subject, Stuart carried out an investigation into the automation of the auditing of cloud services. “I worked with Hewlett Packard Labs on that,” he said. “It was a great opportunity to partner with them and develop something that wasn’t purely academic, but brought value to their business.”
Almost immediately after graduating with Distinction in September 2012, Stuart joined Cisco Systems in London as a Network Consulting Engineer - a role he had applied for while at Warwick.
“I had always been interested in Cisco and the work they do,” he said. “So this was a great opportunity. I have to say that what I learned played a pivotal role in me getting the job. The course helped me to develop in many areas - presentation and interpersonal skills for example: how to speak with customers and work in global teams. Those abilities really came out during my interviews and assessment centre.
“I’m using those skills all the time now, as well as the technical knowledge that I developed. Sometimes that happens unconsciously. For example, I will have worked my way through a problem then realised that to solve it I used a particular element from XYZ theory without even thinking about it.”
Stuart was also keen to mention the support he received from staff throughout his year. “I had some personal issues that impacted my work,” he said “Everyone at Warwick was great though. They supported me right the way through. It’s true to say that the people there want you to succeed and will help in every way they can to make sure that you do.”