Saf S.

Cyber Essentials Assessor
Happy to mentor
Happy to be contacted

About me

Saf S.
Public Administartion - International Development
Taught Postgraduate

My employment

Cyber Essentials Assessor
United Kingdom
Digital and IT services
Large business (250+ employees)

More about Saf

Low Income Household
BAME student
Mature student

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A day in the life of a Cyber Essentials Assessor in the United Kingdom

The highlight was the immense satisfaction I felt, knowing I had significantly enhanced the security of organisations, enabling them to conduct their business with confidence.

Briefly describe the organisation you work for

Claranet is a global leader in technology services, focusing on modernising and safeguarding organisations through their expertise in technology, transformation, and cybersecurity.

What do you do?

As a Cyber Essentials Assessor, I play a crucial role in the cybersecurity landscape. I'm one of the gatekeepers of digital safety, evaluating and certifying businesses against the Cyber Essentials standard, a standard developed by the UK government and endorsed by industry leaders. My work involves scrutinizing an organization's cybersecurity controls, ensuring they are robust enough to ward off common cyber threats. I'm an expert in identifying vulnerabilities and recommending solutions to enhance security posture.

Reflecting upon your past employment and education, what led you to your current career choice?

I've always had a profound love for both consultancy and IT, making my current job feel like a dream come true, as it beautifully combines these two passions. My most enjoyable experiences in York was with York Community Consulting, where I engaged in consultancy work. My affinity for computers dates back to 2009, when I landed my first-ever job as a PC technician. Leveraging the skills I gained from my education and experiences, I successfully transitioned my hobby into a career. Starting in IT support, I gradually ascended to the thrilling world of cybersecurity, where I now thrive.

Is your current job sector different from what you thought you would enter when you graduated?

I used to perceive cybersecurity as a realm for shadowy figures in black hoods, engaged in hacking activities. I thought it was all about the constant battle between illegal hackers and those defending against them. However, I have found my niche in Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC), a distinct and rewarding branch of cybersecurity. Here, I can integrate practical hacking and defense skills into auditing and enhancing business security, which has proven to be an immensely fulfilling path.

Describe your most memorable day at work

My most memorable day at work was quite recent, during the busiest week of my career, where I had the pleasure of helping nine customers pass their Cyber Essentials audits in one week. This week included working with some giants in the industry as well as small businesses. The highlight was the immense satisfaction I felt at the end of the week, knowing I had significantly enhanced the security of these organisations, enabling them to conduct their business with confidence. The relief and gratitude on my customers' faces after passing the assessment were profoundly rewarding, and moments like these are what keep me motivated and passionate about my work.

Are there any challenges associated with your job?

my job comes with immense responsibilities. Balancing the fine line between assisting customers in passing audits and maintaining the integrity of the Cyber Essentials standard is a key challenge. There's always the risk of businesses suffering significant financial losses if they fail an audit, or, conversely, developing a false sense of security if they pass without truly meeting the standards. My role demands acute attention to detail, strong communication and negotiation skills, and the ability to think creatively to devise compliant and practical solutions for businesses to implement.

What extracurricular activities did you undertake at university and what transferable skills did you develop through these?

Social Leaders Programme: Assisting charities with their work taught me the importance of social responsibility, teamwork, and effective communication. I developed empathy and organisational skills, crucial in any professional setting.

York Community Consulting: This experience in management consultancy sharpened my analytical and problem-solving skills. It also enhanced my ability to work collaboratively, manage projects, and communicate complex ideas clearly.

Startup Weekend: Participating in this event, where I could develop business ideas, allowed me to cultivate entrepreneurial skills, including innovation, strategic planning, and risk assessment.

These experiences collectively contributed to a strong foundation of transferable skills applicable to my current role and aspiring goals.

What would you like to do next with your career?

My goal is to become one of the top cybersecurity consultants in the UK. I'm dedicated to this vision, having already achieved rapid progress with two consecutive job promotions within a year and earning over 40 certifications and badges in less than three years. My passion also lies in technical training, and within the next five years, I aim to establish my own consultancy and training company, leveraging my expertise and experience to guide others in the field.

What top tips do you have for York students preparing for today’s job market and life after graduation?

For York students preparing for the job market, especially in cybersecurity, continuous development is crucial. Don't wait until graduation to gain experience; seek opportunities now through extracurricular events and charity work. Engage in practical learning like capture the flag (CTF) competitions to build technical skills. Additionally, certifications are vital as they offer a structured approach to skill development and are often required or preferred by employers. These certifications also catch recruiters' attention, setting you apart in the competitive job market

What topics from students are you happy to answer questions on?

I am available to provide guidance to students in the following areas:

Preparation for Cybersecurity Certifications.
Strategies for securing employment in the field and rapid career progression.
Happy to discuss any technical queries related to cybersecurity.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

I maintain over 40 global certifications in key areas of cybersecurity, including network security, ethical hacking, risk management, compliance and auditing, and incident response. These areas represent the core of my expertise and enable me to comprehensively address a wide range of cybersecurity challenges.

Next steps...

If you like the look of Saf’s profile, the next steps are down to you! You can send Saf a message to find out more about their career journey. If you feel you would benefit from more in-depth conversations, ask Saf to be your mentor.

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