Michael Coyle, an Information Security Analyst at Hiscox, explains how he came to realise his dream of working in IT.
Prior to joining Hiscox in 2014 I spent more than a few years working for bars, clubs and pubs without any real direction or focus. Having originally joined the business in the Glasgow office as an Insurance Expert, I took up an offer to move to Hiscox’s Customer Experience Centre (CEC) in York.
After eight months at the CEC I was the first person successfully appointed to the commercial User Acceptance Testing (UAT) team. I applied for the UAT position initially because it fell loosely under the IT umbrella which has always been my main interest. I found the position challenging and insightful and learned a substantial amount about Hiscox’s IT systems which was key for my next promotion to the IT Service Desk.
I was lucky; Hiscox decided not to ask for previous experience for the service desk positions so it was the perfect opportunity. Despite my lifelong passion for technology, I don’t have a degree and struggled to find work within the IT industry back home in Glasgow. I was always hamstrung by needing direct work experience which I just didn’t have. Hiscox took a risk and I got the job. I couldn’t have been happier.
I think it’s important to get feedback around why you got a job and not just why you didn’t. I asked my hiring manager why he felt I was right for the role. I naturally assumed it was around my passion for computing but surprisingly, that wasn’t the sole factor - although it did contribute. The real reason was that I wasn’t afraid to challenge the conventional way of doing things. I wasn’t afraid of failing or rocking the boat. I wasn’t afraid to call out something that didn’t make sense and I certainly wasn’t afraid to ask questions.
Passion and drive
I’ve spent two years in IT at Hiscox and during that time I’ve sat numerous training courses. If you have the drive and passion to learn new skills Hiscox is prepared to back you all the way. All in all I’ve spent 367 hours in the past two years in classroom based instructor-led training.
Before joining IT at Hiscox I didn’t have a single relevant qualification to my name. Now I have five with the most recent being (ISC)2’s Systems Security Certified Practitioner and a few Microsoft certifications qualifying me as a Microsoft Credited Professional and Solutions Expert.
I couldn’t enjoy it more
My proudest career moment to date would definitely be my latest promotion to the Information Security (InfoSec) team. InfoSec has always been the end goal of my five year plan however, with plenty of support from the service desk, I was able to make that jump in 18 months. Each day has been a humbling experience and I couldn’t enjoy it more.
It’s odd to say but my day job as an InfoSec Analyst involves less of the conventional IT duties and more thinking, reading, learning and talking to people. Coming from a background where my every conversation was action orientated in the CEC and service desk, it’s been a shock to the system to say the least. I feel this is an important point. I wasn’t promoted because I already knew the job inside and out. I was promoted because my manager saw potential in me and took a chance.
That being said my main responsibilities this year have been around building and re-designing our application security assessment capability and, to many Hiscox employees’ dismay, our phishing tests.
We’re all human
I think the single most important skill in each of my roles to date has been my ability to communicate, to work with others and to convey how I feel. We’re all human and that doesn’t always go to plan but my desire to do the right thing is something I try and make sure everyone I interact with is aware of – even if it rocks a few boats.
Anyone who works in a customer facing role will have developed transferable soft skills that are readily applicable to a career in IT. Just like all other career paths at Hiscox, you’re essentially there to help make other people’s lives a little bit easier, a little bit safer, a little bit more secure and to help the business do that little bit better as a result.