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What's your current position?

I currently work as a Cyber Security Consultant at BAE Systems Applied Intelligence.

How did you get into your current job role?

I gathered an interest in cryptography and its real life applications through a few weeks of lectures which we had in the final year of my degree. I found the concept of how maths could run our lives with the rise of the Intelligence Age intriguing and did some research into career paths. Following some research into where this interest could take me, I found out about cyber security, and in particular, the consulting aspect of it. Having looked into a range of companies who could offer me this career path, I applied for a role at BAE Systems Applied Intelligence. Within the space of a month, I had two interviews in London for a place on their Graduate Scheme, and was accepted shortly after.

Can you give us a brief description of your role?

My day to day work includes investigating the security infrastructure of third party suppliers and using data flow diagrams to assess the risk it poses to companies. My current role involves looking at how we can illustrate this data and investigating the key areas for security improvement.

What skills are you using in your current role which you developed during your degree?

The ability to understand patterns in abstract sets of data is a skill which has been acquired from completing a degree in Mathematics. I am often posed with the problem of having to find relationships between seemingly unrelated data and relate this to a set of variables, which is the analytical process we developed when doing a Maths degree.

How did the University of Chester, the Department of Mathematics and its degree programme in BSc Mathematics help you with your career to date and in your current role?

Whilst I was studying at the University, I was given the opportunity to be a Student Representative for my course. This helped in establishing the fundamentals required in being able to speak in a meeting and understanding the generic leadership structure required. The Mathematics degree programme encouraged me to explore the applications of Mathematics in areas which were still being established, and may not be deemed the traditional routes for Maths graduates. The idea of cybersecurity is something I came across in my final year, where we touched upon the applications of mathematics in cryptography. From there, I carried out my own research into careers in this field, and relayed this back to the careers team at the University, who offered me advice on how to apply.

What do you like about the city of Chester?

Chester is a friendly and safe city, with a traditional community feel about it. Having lived in Chester for 3 years whilst attending the University, I can say that I've felt at home. Local residents were always welcoming, and walking around at any time was never an issue. Chester is a very picturesque place to be, and a calming environment to be in. It is close enough to larger attractions, without being overly busy itself. Despite leaving the University nearly 2 years ago, I still visit the city with my family at Christmas time, because of the fact it is a friendly and pleasant place to be.

How would you summarise your ‘Chester Story’?

I would summarise my ‘Chester Story’ as being the key development stage in my career. The University nurtures talent and aims to bring the best out of every student, reciprocating the effort put in. The lecturers I had were always supportive and challenged every student, myself included, to meet new targets. As cliché as it sounds, I made friends for life, who shaped my way of thinking, which has helped towards my success. Being at Chester pushed me out of my comfort zone, but always offered the support as and when it was required.

What advice would you give prospective students on how to stand out from other Maths graduates?

Maths graduates, and graduates from other STEM subjects, are often perceived as being analytical and methodical thinkers. That is true, and it is a fantastic selling point to have on your CV when it comes to applying for jobs in the future. However, I think we overlook some of the other qualities studying for a degree in mathematics teaches you. Maths is the most fundamental form of communication. When written correctly, it can be understood with no language barriers. We can see that it teaches you to communicate a complex matter in a series of steps to arrive at a solution. It is also a creative subject. When we think of new ideas, it demonstrates a sense of innovation which is sought after by every company.

My main piece of advice for Maths graduates is not limiting yourself to what others think a Maths degree makes you good for. You should look at what you’ve learnt and how you’ve learnt it, and adapt it to what you believe it makes you good at and think outside of the box. Take every opportunity to stray away from the norm and learn other skills. Coding is the new wave in industry, and employers are keen to find individuals who can code. The combination of coding and a Maths degree is lethal when it comes to starting your career. My advice to students is to never feel belittled and always challenge others for the top spots, wherever that may be.

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