Educational background

2013- 2017: Studied Chemical Engineering.

2018: Completed Slingstone Business Analyst course and secured first business analyst job.

2019: Began studying and learning about Cyber Security.

2021: accepted first cyber security role as a Penetration Tester.

Slingstone Openhouse is a platform for hosting candid conversations with Entrepreneurs, Business Analysts and Technology Consultants who will be sharing stories of their journeys and interactions with digital systems.

Our maiden edition of Slingstone Openhouse had a Cyber Security consultant, Jonathan Onyeaka, as guest. He began his story by giving us some background information about his career journey. He also shared on how he made the transition from what he studied in the university to his current role in Cyber Security. Here, we have a transcript of his session to share with you:

Earlier this year, I accepted my first role within the cyber security field as a penetration tester, and I can tell you for a fact that contrary to the misconception out there, you do not need to have an IT background to pursue a career in cyber security. My educational foundation was in chemical engineering but look where I am now! I only started studying and learning about cyber security in 2019, and for the most part, I was self-taught. I took advantage of materials and resources online. I also took some courses on Udemy, and utilised YouTube and Google. Trust me, Google is your friend!

Some may wonder why I switched (well I like to refer to it as transition or progression) from a career in chemical engineering and business analysis to cyber security. The short answer is that I have always been in pursuit of my passion. I didn’t just want a job that could pay the bills, I wanted a job that didn’t feel like work, something I loved and enjoyed. Some people never find that passion, which is why I am so thrilled about having found my passion in cyber security. It doesn’t feel like work at all.

Cyber security is a space that is rapidly growing as there is a growing demand for cyber security experts and personnel like never. Cyber security in general, entails how individuals and organisations reduce the risk of cyberattack. A cyberattack occurs when cyber criminals attempt to or gains illegal access to electronic data stored on a computer or network. The intention may be to inflict reputational damage or harm to a business or person, or theft of valuable data. In the UK, more than 37% of UK companies have reported a breach incident to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). One small business in the UK is successfully hacked every 19 seconds, and one in every 3,722 emails in the UK is a phishing attempt, and around half the cyberattacks in the UK involve phishing. I’m sure that with all these reasons, you can understand why cyber security is so important and rapidly growing.

The cyber security field presents diverse career opportunities. I presently work as a penetration tester. Penetration testers do anything from dark web monitoring, IT health checks, web application penetration testing, infrastructure penetration testing to social engineering assessment. Don’t let the job description or what it entails put you off, especially if you do not have an IT background. It is still very achievable!

In 2018, after I completed the Slingstone Business Analysis (BA) course, I landed my first role as a business analyst. The great news is that a lot of the key BA skills I acquired really helped me in my transition to my current role in cyber security. Some of the key transferrable BA skills that came in handy for me includes (but not limited to): an understanding of networks, databases & other technology, documentation & report writing, interpersonal skills, consultative skills and most importantly, being detail oriented and capable of delivering a high level of accuracy. So, if you have a BA background like me, and you are considering a career in cyber security, the good news is that a lot of the skills you attained as a BA would come in handy.

My advice to those thinking of progressing or transitioning into the cyber security space would be as follows:

  1. Utilise online resources -There are so many resources and materials online. Do your research, read job specifications, find courses you can take online that suit your intended role. Just to name a few, use Google, YouTube and Udemy. There are so many courses on Udemy, and they always have discounted courses, and you still get value. So please, you do not need to go back to the university to study for another degree entirely. Utilise the resources available online. They are more than sufficient.
  1. Certification -Taking the required exams to get certified is a bonus. In some instances, it is not necessary. This is because there are firms that are happy to train you and assist you through the certification process. So, it is okay to apply for roles in the cyber security space even if you are not yet certified.
  1. Network -I cannot overemphasise the importance of networking. Ask questions, seek guidance, speak to experienced people within the industry and if possible, seek out mentors within your desired field.
  1. Self-belief -All the above tips and advice won’t be effective if you do not believe in yourself. Do not let anyone tell you that you can’t do it, for any reason. It is very achievable if you set your mind to it and apply yourself. No obstacle is too big.
  1. Time -Put in the time. Study! Study!! Study!!! And all your time and hard work will eventually pay off.