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Career in IT, engineering and security leads to international travel and high profile clients

Career in IT, engineering and security leads to international travel and high profile clients

Published: 13 Mar 2023

Barry Johnson

The quality and breadth of my degree enabled me to switch focus mid-career as I had a great foundation across a wide skills base

Barry, Undergraduate, Alumni

Chief Technology Officer, Firesand

Computer Systems Engineering BEng - 2007

From UK

Tell us about your career journey since you graduated…

I started initially in a sales job and ended up doing cold call sales for IP telephony systems for a while. After realising that I'm a technical guy at heart, I switched to do a junior technical consultant role specialising in systems and asset management. I progressed across various organisations to eventually become a Managing Director for an international asset management software company, before finally switching to cyber security and finding my real home and passion.

What does an average day at work involve for you?

Planning and implementation of distributed endpoint and security management solutions, developing technology and services strategies for business growth and carrying out penetration contracts for businesses & private high net worth clients. In the last year I've worked for NASA, Sykes Enterprises, Red Bull Technology, Department for Work and Pensions and many more. The days are never boring!

What’s been the highlight of your career so far?

Working with the NASA Neutral Buoyancy Lab in Houston and getting to see real astronauts training and being lifted out of the water. I've never felt as though being in IT, engineering or security could be more awesome than getting to work internationally with such high profile clients. Though travelling to over 20 countries for work has also been pretty awesome too.

How would you say Brunel helped you to get where you are today?

I switched from sales to consultancy, senior management and eventually cyber security with the space of 11 years. My degree's breadth made this possible as I had a great foundation across a wide skills base. The degree and the faculty were a great combination; even if I didn't quite see it at the time.

Why did you choose to study at Brunel and why would you recommend Brunel to others?

The quality and breadth of the degree enabled me to switch focus mid-career and still make a massive difference in my new roles. Parts of my second year modules were literally transferable to professional qualifications which cost thousands of pounds to study later on. This breadth meant I was better prepared than other peers to weather the storm of volatile employment markets.

What is your best memory of studying here?

My friends from my course; I can literally say I will never be so privileged to be around a more intelligent group of people. We still stay in contact now and have a great laugh reminiscing about our lectures and pushing each other to be better. Being smart never felt more appreciated than when one is surrounded by other smart, driven individuals.

If you could give one piece of advice to new students, what would that be?

Show tenacity with humility; no-one leaves university entitled to anything. Your degree shows you can take in information; but the real world will show you have a lot to learn. That doesn't mean you can't bring something to the party, but sadly a number of students coming out of university miss the life skills which experienced workers will trade on. Pragmatism is something I wish I would've been better at even though my passion has never dampened!

What would be your top tip or advice for new graduates as they begin their career journey?

Don't be afraid to ask; the worst they can do is say "no"! And save... drinking and socialising will not mean you get the things you want. This sounds obvious, but I've found that so many people aren't prepared to sacrifice to get what they want. Save hard, invest and set yourself goals by literally writing them down; even if you don't look at them for years. Somehow, my goals almost always get met from five years earlier; even without consciously trying.