Ivor Cook: Former Warrant Officer now Information Security Manager

Posted on Wednesday, March 24, 2021 by Faye CoppNo comments

Ivor Cook learned plenty about security while serving in the Army. After leaving the military as a Warrant Officer, he then expanded on his skills to forge a successful new career with tech giant IBM where he secured the role of Senior Security Consultant. Two years on, he’s now promoted to Information Assurance Team Deputy Lead & Information Security Manager.

“When the time came to hang up my uniform, I had a hard time picturing my next adventure. I had training and experience in security, plus the leadership and management skills that came with military service,” said Ivor. 

Initially interested in a security-related career in the private sector, Ivor soon realised that the cyber security sphere was rapidly evolving focused on looking into ways that he could get into cyber, which is when he came across SaluteMyJob.Ivor then began his transition into cyber security by attending one of SaluteMyJob’s free IBM delivered cyber security courses at Corsham Institute in Wiltshire. 

“I did a five–day course on QRadar, an IBM product that detects threats to IT systems and then, through SaluteMyJob, I applied to IBM because I valued their elegant solutions and wanted to be part of that. My role as a Senior Security Consultant at IBM involved assessing risks and reducing their threat”.

Experienced in assessing threats and risk from his time in the Army, Ivor believes that it was his military experience that made him a good fit for a role in cyber: “The journey I made was understanding that cybersecurity is not a niche that can be ignored, but represents a domain which is so intrinsic to every part of our lives; at work and at home. I think that specific skills can be learned but that military personnel come with a set of in-built skills which can’t be taught like confidence, the ability to talk to people, to take responsibility, to organise and to plan, as well as an ingrained security mindset.”

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What makes ex-military people valuable is that “we don’t sweat the small stuff but still have an eye for detail and we have the ability to move on and replan if things are not working as we would like,” he says. “Crucially, we don’t walk past something which is going wrong and we don’t walk past a colleague who is having a rough time. Hard skills can always be taught but these things can’t.”

Ivor’s colleague and line manager Mark Bowers, IBM Information Assurance Team Leader and Project Security Manager, is himself ex-military, and spent 30 years in the Royal Navy before coming out of the service in February 2015. He served as a Weapons Engineer, commissioned into information systems, and has, like most military personnel, always been keenly aware of security: “Everything about the military is about security and it’s ingrained in the ex-military people who come into the company from day one. They don’t consciously think about it, they just do it,” he said.

And with a growing need for people to fill cyber and information security posts, Mark believes ex-military are ideally suited to roles in the field. “Ivor, for example, did not have an information assurance background per se but the skills he brought with him meant he could be very quickly trained and developed. There is a phenomenal amount of work out there and it is not too big a change in terms of environment and the work sphere.”

Mark would urge other companies to hire former military personnel too. “Ex-military people have a lot of skills. They bring resilience and an ability to plan. They’re also not fazed by new things because they have been continually exposed to new things throughout their military career. Tasks and problems are tackled head-on and they will always take responsibility for themselves and their team because that’s just who they are.”

Read more IBM’s veteran cyber security initiatives.

Written: March 2021

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