The Institute for Security Science and Technology caught up with Security and Resilience MSc alumnus Shayan Shoaib.
What was your background before you came to Imperial?
I obtained my undergraduate degree in Software Engineering from the University of Sheffield. During my final year, the global outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic forced me, like many others, to quickly adapt to online learning and return home to be with my family. This period highlighted the ever-evolving threats to the security landscape and reinforced my desire to contribute to society by specialising in an area with a broader impact. This led me to pursue a master's program in cyber security and resilience.
What are you working on now, and why is it important?
I'm working as a Cyber Security Consultant at Deloitte, one of the Big Four accounting firms. I lead a wide range of projects across multiple key sectors. My specialisation involves advising clients on managing cyber risks, developing effective cyber security strategies, and establishing robust operating models.
In addition to these responsibilities, I provide support to the Cyber Incident Response team by conducting proactive threat hunting and cyber compromise assessments. This ensures that organisations are well-protected and equipped to take preventive measures against advanced persistent threats and modern cyber espionage.
What was your favourite part of the Security and Resilience course?
The MSc program I pursued at Imperial College London provided a well-rounded curriculum that balanced science, engineering, and social sciences. My experience in the program was nothing short of magical, as I had the opportunity to explore various departments, including Computing, Civil Engineering, and Physics, and gain a holistic perspective. Moreover, I formed lasting friendships with fellow students.
What made me appreciate Imperial even more was the professors' dedication to the students' well-being. During times when I felt overwhelmed or demotivated, my professors provided unwavering support and guidance, prioritising my mental health while also ensuring I submitted excellent work.
I am incredibly grateful to Dr William G Proud and Dr Margaret Wilson, who consistently checked on my progress and offered their endearing support. Without their guidance and mentorship, I could not have achieved what I did.
As part of the MSc Security and Resilience, students complete one or more research projects. Please tell us about your project(s) and what you achieved.
During my academic tenure, I worked on two research projects. For the first project, I collaborated with Dr Katherine Brown from the University of Cambridge to investigate the security implications and infrastructure resilience of cyberbiosecurity.
Cyberbiosecurity is the practice of protecting the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of biological data, systems, and technologies from cyber threats. As an emerging threat landscape, the paucity of research papers presented a challenging environment.
However, with my supervisor's valuable guidance, I surmounted these obstacles and produced a research paper of exceptional quality that earned me a distinction.
For the second project, I was selected from a competitive pool of eight students by Pool Reinsurance Company Limited, an innovation ecosystem partner, to conduct research on cyber security for smart city ecosystems.
My findings were reported to Mr Conrad Prince, the cyber security ambassador for the UK government. As a leading provider of cyber terrorism cover, this research was instrumental in enhancing their understanding of the risks posed to cities and critical national infrastructure within the UK.
The support and guidance provided by the firm enabled me to produce an engaging report that received high commendation. I was fortunate to be awarded a cash prize for my thesis, and the firm's Chief Resilience Officer provided me with a letter of recommendation.
How has the MSc in Security and Resilience helped you with your career?
Since the beginning of the course, my aim has been to specialise in cyber security and pursue a career in this field. The MSc Security and Resilience program allowed me to refine my existing skills and broaden my understanding of security from various perspectives, including computational and behavioural sciences.
During the first project, I became particularly interested in cyber security in healthcare. Following the completion of my master's degree, I joined Deloitte as a Consultant, focusing on cyber security and resilience in the healthcare sector. It's rewarding to apply my knowledge and expertise in my current role, and I'm proud of my journey so far.
What is your key advice for students wanting to pursue a career in the security and resilience space?
The field of security and resilience is an exciting and rapidly evolving area that offers many opportunities for building a successful career. Achieving success requires dedication, hard work, and a commitment to ongoing learning and development.
For international students, navigating cultural differences is critical to succeeding in this field. Developing cross-cultural communication skills and seeking mentorship can be useful in overcoming these challenges.
At Imperial, there are numerous extracurricular activities available that can help students gain practical experience and knowledge of security and resilience. Some of these opportunities include participation in the Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge, the Capture the Flag competition, and hackathons.
It is also essential to attend industry events and conferences, join professional organisations, and seek mentorship opportunities. Imperial offers access to industry guest speakers and hosts events to help students build their networks and gain valuable insights into the industry.
Internships and work experience provide students with hands-on experience and an opportunity to apply classroom knowledge to real-world problems. Imperial's Careers Service can assist students in finding internships and job opportunities.
To succeed as a cyber security or resilience professional, one needs excellent communication, problem-solving, and analytical skills. Students can develop these skills by taking courses or participating in activities that focus on public speaking, leadership, or teamwork.
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Institute for Security Science & Technology