Customer success is a priority at ITC: our focus is to deliver the best possible outcome for our customers. In this series of Q&As, we go behind the scenes and meet some of the people at ITC who are driving the customer experience forward and helping to make the world a safer place to do business, every single day.
For this month’s edition, Senior Cloud Security and Identity Consultant, Alan Armstrong, talks to us about his journey from starting as a help desk apprentice to becoming a Senior Cloud Security and Identity consultant at ITC, what he enjoys most about his role, and his experience working with Microsoft as a security specialist.
“I am making a difference in the world by making it (cyber) safe.”
Q. Tell us about yourself and your professional journey.
I have lived in Bournemouth in the South of the UK my entire life.
I got into technology at the age of fourteen by reassembling my rather old computer. I then built my PC, which led to fixing family machines. From then on, I knew I wanted to work in this industry.
What drove me was my curiosity about how things worked. That curiosity has been with me right through my professional journey.
After finishing college, I joined a local authority in Dorset and I worked on their help desk as an apprentice. After some time, I moved to the desk side and then to the back-end infrastructure team.
After a decade of hands-on learning and growth, I joined a Microsoft partner, specialising in Microsoft Identity Management, and then moved into Microsoft Security. This role was my first corporate stint as such. After spending nearly four years with them, last year, I joined ITC Secure as a Senior Cloud Security and Identity consultant.
Q. What do you enjoy most about your current cloud security and identity role?
Cyber security is a dynamic and exciting space with a lot of action and learning. The pandemic brought even more cyber security challenges to the forefront.
With the increased cloud adoption, we help our customers identify gaps, optimise their security investment, and improve their overall security posture.
I work with our extended teams, including the advisory team, product, sales, and operations. Together, we strengthen our offerings and service propositions to meet our customers’ needs.
I feel I am making a difference to the world by making it (cyber) safe.
Q. As a Microsoft security specialist, how has your experience been working with Microsoft?
I have been working with the Microsoft security stack for over seven years now. During this time, I have witnessed Microsoft sharpening its focus on security and making it central to their strategy.
At ITC, I have a fantastic opportunity to work with the Microsoft Global Black Belts: the best in the industry. These engagements allow me to gain insight and support from them regarding some of our customer scenarios. I have also built great relationships within Microsoft and I can call upon them to help out and gain insight into emerging products and features.
Working alongside Microsoft’s product teams and being able to contribute to the final product through testing and feedback is particularly rewarding. This aligns well with my curiosity to know how things work and find solutions to pertinent customer problems.
Q. You and your family were recently featured in the Windows 11 ad campaign? How did that come about, and what was the experience like?
That was an exciting initiative to be part of, especially since I got to share it with my wife and daughters.
It started when one of my colleagues and I responded to Microsoft’s call to Windows Customer Connect Program members, inviting them to be a part of their campaign.
It was an extensive process with interviews, evaluation, and selection, followed by house visits and site selection. Then there was the actual filming – the whole project took just over a month.
I enjoyed myself and liked the outcome. I also have a newfound appreciation for the creative and production process and the actors.
Q. So, what’s a typical work day for you?
I work from home primarily, so my work day starts with product previews. After that, I spend most of my day working with our customers and extended teams on some new products and services. I also ensure that I take some time out for learning and upskilling.
Working in cyber security, your days can change quickly depending on external factors or a customer situation.
Q. Looking at your badges, learning seems high on your agenda. What is the driving force behind this commitment?
As I mentioned, I have always been curious about how things work. So, part of my drive is because of that curiosity. Although I have worked for over 15 years now, I don’t need the certifications as a door opener, but they help build credentials.
In our business (cyber security), we must keep up with the latest technology. So this pursuit of learning is my way of keeping up.
To date, I have 13 Microsoft certifications and counting.
Q. For anyone looking for a career in cyber security, what does it take to succeed?
Cyber security is an exciting place to be in, with plenty of opportunities to learn, grow, and make a difference. Cyber security has many skillsets: advisory, operations, analysts, or product and technology. So, choose what best fits your attitude and aspirations.
For anyone to succeed in this line of business, the most crucial factor would be the willingness to learn and keep oneself updated with the latest in technology and services.
Q. What makes ITC a great place to work?
We have a great work culture here at ITC. I can reach out to anyone in our team or any other teams, and people are very responsive and helpful. And equally, all of the leaders are hands-on and approachable.
Cyber security is serious business, and the stakes are high, but working alongside a great team makes it much more manageable.
There are a couple of links to the MS Pages where I feature. Some are different videos:
- https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/business/windows-11-intel-vpro-hybrid-work has my video on there featured with others.
- https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/business?wa=wsignin1.0 has a combined video where I am featured with different video sections in which I am actually talking!