From the Military to Cyber Security: Making the Leap

Published on: June 16,2023 Published in: Forces Friendly Insights

After nearly 30 years in the Royal Air Force (RAF), Darryl Adams left the Armed Forces to pursue and progress his cyber security career. Now, as Head of Governance at i3Secure, he shares his advice for any veteran, reservist, or military spouse hoping to do the same and explains how transferable skills and experiences gained in service can be applied to a role in cyber security.

Knowing When It’s Time for a Change

I am fully aware that I would not be where I am today without my experience in the Armed Forces. Joining at just 18 and spending nearly three decades within the RAF Police, I have gained experience working in the UK and multiple international locations. Through my time in the Ministry of Defence (MOD), my main goal was to provide a stable and secure environment for my family (wife and three children), and leaving the MOD was a hard decision. I was both excited and anxious about that transition. I had a lot of concerns over this period (i.e., how can I portray my skillset to civilian employees? How do my MOD qualifications translate into the private sector? What if I don’t pass the probation period?). To enable me to overcome my concerns, I spoke to ex-military personnel already employed in the private sector to gain their insight into how my skills would be transferable.

Networking and Transition Support

I firmly believe that I left the MOD environment at the right time. My family was settled in Bedfordshire, I had been completing a three-hour round trip every day for work and I had no further career options that I wanted to explore in the forces.

After linking with other like-minded veterans, I was put in contact with Cyber Security and Information Assurance Consultancy i3Secure, who work closely with the MOD and the Defence supply chain. As a veteran-founded company that hires both veterans and civilians, i3Secure helped me at every stage of my transition. The team explained how my skillset would transition into the cyber security field and how they would support me, including a study and training pathway to gain my ISO 27001:2013/2022 Lead Audits Cse and NIST Practitioner Cse, along with simple tips to make my LinkedIn account more effective and attractive. The i3Secure culture supports veterans and reservists and the Directors place high value on the skills and ethics of the Armed Forces community. Everyone in the team has access to a generous training budget to expand their knowledge and qualifications, a buddy/mentor from a similar background and a veteran support network. They also understand the importance of mental and physical well-being, and this is demonstrated in the way the team works and the benefits they offer, including the ability to work remotely so that employees have more time to spend with friends and family.

Transferable Skills

Some of the most important skills that I acquired in the RAF, that transfer across all fields, include having the confidence to be inquisitive, to ask questions and be able to write and communicate effectively. Having a good understanding of effective governance along with the ability to apply research methodology and write and interpret policies has also aided me in my consultancy role. It’s important for all service leavers to remember that when you enter into a new industry, particularly cyber security consultancy, if you don’t understand a topic or explanation, you need to ask those probing questions and get clarity and understanding when necessary.

A Different Way of Working

When I joined the team, the main challenge I had to overcome was working remotely. Whilst it means a better work-life balance, working from home does require some adapting and isn’t for everyone. I have been around people in a face-to-face environment for nearly 30 years and so, became used to interacting with others in that way. I feel that a lot can be gained from in-person meetings, and you can gauge the audience from their body language and tone. Whilst we work remotely, I’m often required to attend a client site and we have plenty of team social events planned throughout the year where everyone makes the effort to get together and interact in person.

Advice for Other Service Leavers

Having made the leap into the private sector and joining i3Secure, I would suggest likeminded Service leavers to think about the following:

  • Being scared is a normal feeling when going into the unknown.
  • Have a plan and research jobs that you might have a passion for.
  • Speak to people that are already within the sector you are exploring. This should give you more confidence.
  • Don’t think that because you don’t have the qualifications you’re not capable of going after the job.

If you’re considering a career in cyber security, visit our Careers page to find out more about what we can offer you and our current opportunities.

Darryl Adams

HEAD OF GOVERNANCE

Darryl is a proven multi-skilled security professional and has considerable experience in security risk management, information, physical, personnel security and investigations within the defence sector, which includes Defence Intelligence and Defence Infrastructure Organisation. Highly motivated, adaptable and methodical, he strives to bring into focus a more efficient and accelerated capability for his customers.

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