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Making an impact – From HR to Cybersecurity, unusual career paths cross and result in transferable skills no one could predict

Jess Lilliman
2 June 2023

Making an impact – From HR to Cybersecurity, unusual career paths cross and result in transferable skills no one could predict.

Jess didn’t know what she wanted to do at school or after school. However, she knew she wanted to achieve something her family had never seen before, and that was going to university. From there, Jess’ went on an incredible journey through her education and career went before she arrived in tech.

If you asked me when I was still in school whether I would consider a career in IT, my answer would have been a firm “no”. It never occurred to me that I could even consider it. To me, it was boys who always chose IT at school. I didn’t, and none of my friends did either.

I didn’t exactly sail through school knowing what I wanted to do. I would change my mind on what huge career path I was going to go down every couple of months. So, when it came to deciding what to study at college, choosing one subject was difficult. I went to countless open evenings, coming away from one event and announcing to my friends and family I was going to study Travel & Tourism and become an Air Hostess, or that Childcare was for me.

In the end, I stayed at Sixth Form to study my A levels, just to buy myself a bit more time. Then, soon enough, it was time to submit my university application and I had no idea what I wanted to study. I knew I wanted to study in general, particularly as none of my family had gone to university, so that was a goal I had. The problem was that I didn’t love any subject. I had an interest in law, but I honestly knew a full law degree, then the LPC and setting myself up for years and years of study, wasn’t for me either. In the end, I chose Law with Public Services, with the intention of going into the Probation Service.

After university, I needed to get more experience for the Probation Service, so applied to work for the Prison Service as an Offender Supervisor (Probation Officers, working on the inside preparing Offenders for release). At first, I loved the job, and thought the Prison Service was where I would stay. For 5 years, I worked with various high and low risk offenders, life sentenced prisoners and even gave evidence at Parole Hearings. However, the toll on my mental health working for the Prison Service really weighed me down (if you know anyone who works in a Prison, or a similar role, you will know how this can effect a person’s mental health and personal life). The stress of the job, and the mental toll, started to take effect and eventually I was not myself. The job was affecting my relationships, and my mental health started to plummet. That’s when I knew I had to get out.

Jess needed a drastic change and to regain some balance in her work and life. Who knew that a job in HR could take her on a path to cybersecurity?

Desperate for any job I could find just to get out of that tense environment, a friend I knew worked for a small IT firm, where they were advertising for a HR Assistant. I knew I didn’t want to do this long term, but it would give me some headspace to think about what I did want and where I could go next after doing such a niche degree. I got the job and ended up staying for a year and a half. In that time, I got to know a few of the cybersecurity team, and the CISO there. It got to a point where I was more interested in what was going on in the SOC than my own job. The CISO recommended the CAPSLOCK bootcamp for people wanting to reskill in cybersecurity as he knew the founders. This was something I considered for quite a few months and eventually took the leap. Six months of studying every night after work and some weekends was heavy going, but I was loving every minute of it and couldn’t wait to start my first role.

Jess has now fallen in love with IT and technology, and this is how she ended up at Capgemini UK.

I saw a Security Reporting Analyst job advertised at Capgemini UK, and here I am! I have just had my first anniversary, and I’ve recently been promoted to a Junior Security Manager. I’m working across 3 client accounts, and I am learning so much and work with incredible people. In fact, one of my fellow cohorts from CAPSLOCK started at Capgemini UK at the same time as me.

So no, I never thought I would fall in love with IT in general, never mind cybersecurity. But I don’t think life has taken anyone I know in the direction they had planned. I have had experiences along the way that I will never forget. I have learned so much about myself from the challenges I have overcome. Working in a male dominated industry like the Prison Service, with High-Risk Offending Males, to being a part of a new era of technology where more and more women are joining, has had a profound impact on me. My work directly affects my clients, and my experience of the Prison Services also impacts how I develop as a cybersecurity professional today. The impact of being one of few women in these spaces means we are diversifying thought and setting an example to others.

Jess Lilliman

Junior Security Manager
My name is Jess, I am 29 and work in the CIS department as a Junior Security Manager. I joined Capgemini in Feb 2022. I have two Dogs who I am not ashamed to say I spend a bit too much time with!