I’d be the first to put my hand up and say I ‘dropped out’ of university but that doesn’t make me a failure. In fact, quite the opposite – I have a fire in my belly and a passion for security that I’ve used to get where I am today. As an employer it means I don’t just look at a CV to see what grades a person had when they left full time education, but what they’ve done with them since.
As parents we can become fixated on the grades our children achieve and, yes they are important, but they’re not everything. Perhaps what we also need is a ‘common sense’ examination. I’ve interviewed a few ‘Grade A / 1:1’ students over the years who struggle to function in the ‘normal’ working world. Surely the education system has failed them!
While I wouldn’t advocate every primary school child be given a computer and then taught how to break into government databases (although I also don’t see the harm as it would certainly keep these establishments on their toes), I do think inquisitiveness should be actively encouraged rather than seen as an evil that needs to be quashed. If a child has a natural talent – be it football, mathematics or even breaking code, this should be the focus rather than the elements of the subject that are likely to appear on the examination paper.
We need employees who are willing to stand up for what they believe and question what they think is wrong. Perhaps then rogue bankers won’t cripple our financial institutions, nor think it’s a valid defence for doing so. In my experience, the best person for the job is someone with passion – certainly the best security professionals are those that are passionate about security. Of course, the basics are important but so is creativity and flair.
Just like I recognised my skills as a hacker from an early age, now as an employer I recognise the skilled individuals within my workforce and deploy them appropriately. What I think is important is passion, creativity, morality and tenacity. As long as these score an A* then that’s the main qualification I’m looking for from future employees.
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