Imagine if today, everyone in a job gave someone starting out in their career a break: was willing to take a risk on them and gave them a project or a responsibility, a week’s internship or simply asked them to look at something existing with fresh eyes.
It’s almost inconceivable how many new careers or interests could come from taking that simple step. And, of course, those of us in jobs would learn something too.
Throughout my career, I have firmly believed that if you are in a job, whether it be within the security industry or any other sector, then you should be bound, as often as possible, to look for potential in others, and to really give others that opportunity to do something different. Take a leap, see how large they grow.
I would be willing to bet that if you looked back on your own career, you can still remember the leaders who gave you a break, someone who saw potential in you. In my career, I have grown the most eclectic bag of skills and I have also had two jobs that technically didn’t exist when I started them.
I am not unique – the world of work and, in particular, the security sector needs new skills every year. You only have to look at the range of jobs that didn’t exist five years ago, even two years ago, to see the speed of change.
The reason I have the skills I do is because throughout my working life, others have given me a big chance at something – it might have been scary at the time but they have seen some potential (that I might never have pinpointed in me) and given me a shot.
Role at the Business Resilience Centre
When I came into this role at the Business Resilience Centre it was clear to me that by offering a real blend of skills we would be creating a very different and new offering to the business community. The Centre had existed long before me but that focus had become static, based on crime rather than a positive advisory service. We quickly engaged with the business community and also looked ahead at how to create that proactive, advisory service, blending together policing skills, fire and rescue skills and latterly, a whole new team of highly digitally literate ethical hacking students. We were fortunate that partners shared that vision and have been happy to second colleagues and team members to our Centre and with every one, there comes a new way of seeing and fresh ideas. Everyone brings us something.
Has it worked? Yes, it very definitely has, and two years ago I was invited to take the ethical hacking model from our business to the Mayor’s office in London, where a new and very vibrant service is growing with its own impressive management and team secondments.
And innovation should never cease; now we are beginning to look at what other new and emerging talent and thinking is coming out through universities. What else could be blended into our fusion hub to further help business to thrive? What models can we take in training and development from one sector to another? As we move more and more towards online business, so our products and services have to be similarly accessible, readily available, secure in design and simple to use.
We all have to help business stay ahead of the game. The only way to do that is to constantly refresh and to welcome the new.
Helping young people
I have been a school governor for four years, and throughout that time I have seen young people extremely anxious that they do not yet have that golden career path mapped out. We worry too much about this – and not everyone will be academic. Some of this country’s greatest role models and entrepreneurs are not academic but they are visionary, and you can bet that, on the way up, someone will also have given them that break. Taken that risk.
We should treat internships as bringers of innovation. From every project or role that I have had, I have been able to take some new skill from every single one – some I hated, but that has led to greater self awareness. I know what will fire me up and where I will be less able to use my skills.
For the past five years I have developed closer and closer relationships with a range of universities. Why did I start this relationship? Because I was looking for innovation. Innovation is not the sole preserve of the young, but they have it in spades and we should all be diving in and seeking new eyes on existing problems. From those links I was able to identify a new suite of skills coming through the pipeline of talent – ethical hacking students. Why did it matter? It mattered because business was already turning on the pin of cyber breach – and this was four years ago. Working directly with these emerging students at different year levels in the university, I was able to not only develop an unique business proposition, but also to help the students to develop as fully business-ready individuals in a way that hadn’t been seen before. So by treating and engaging students with the business community, they will come away capable of giving detailed and sophisticated presentations, competent in advanced report writing, with understanding of commercial skills, confident and strong on self-presenting and ready and highly employable.
Does it work? You bet. Two this year will go to the highest echelons of security.
Is there a downside to working as a fusion hub of innovation? Yes. And it is one I don’t regret. It is simply this – everyone who gains new skills becomes highly marketable and as such we will always be a growing ground. People with greater skills will move on and I wouldn’t change that for a moment. Embrace that we are all here to develop others and see them fly. That is what being an employer is all about.
Mandy Haeburn-Little, CEO
Scottish Business ResilienceCentre.