In this month’s Dog Tags to Data Tags blog we connect with former Royal Marine Ben Landry. Ben’s hard work is paying off as he transitions from his career as a Landing Craftsman for the Royal Marines into a Cyber Security pro at BT. Here’s how he did it.
What do flying planes and analysing IT have in common?
Very little at first glance- but look deeper and you’ll see complementary skill sets that include the ability to work under pressure, a knack for managing complex systems, and a focus on safeguarding the wellbeing of others. Ben Landry has those skills and more. The former Royal Marine is putting his military background to good use in a new career with BT thanks to support from other service leaders in tech, plus the right cyber security training and certification.
Read on to learn how Ben got to where he is now, and why you might be well suited to follow in his footsteps.
Ben’s Best Laid Plans
Some people join the military as a launch pad to a second career. Not Ben: He went right from school to a military career at age 17, and planned to stay in permanently.
“I always expected to do a full career in the military, and even extend if they would let me!” says Ben. “I had never thought about getting another job, and the only interview I ever had done previously was the one in the careers office when I was 16.”
Ben loved the camaraderie of the military, saying he always felt like part of a team/family. He also thrived in high-stakes environments where challenges happen daily and a “huge amount of responsibility” is placed on your shoulders from a young age. “I spent 3 years as a General Duties Marine (GD), and I then specialised as a Landing Craftsman (LC),” he explains. So why leave? Unfortunately, Ben’s decision was made for him: “I found myself with an injury that meant I could no longer continue my service.”
Choosing Cyber Security After Military Service
“Initially I felt slightly worried,” shares Ben, “[Signing off] was a daunting thought, because I had given the Marines my entire adult life, and I had loved all the time I had spent in the corps. It was all I knew in terms of a career.”
Like many veterans, Ben ‘felt quite stuck’ despite the many resettlement support options offered by the military. No choices really spoke to him until he reached out to his old friend, Aaron.
“I knew he went into an IT career specializing in something called ‘cyber security’ and thought it might be something I would find interesting,” says Ben. “When I called, he explained the job to me, and it immediately sparked my interest.”
Ben says that he’d always been interested in tech and enjoyed spending time on the computer. If that sounds like you, a career in cyber security is a good way to turn that pastime into a meaningful line of work.
“As I researched more into the world of cyber security, I realized how important it is,” Ben recalls. “As I read examples and different ways malicious actors would try and exploit you or your data online, I noticed that in nearly every case I could think of a time I had been targeted in such a way, or a friend or family member had.”
But what about the lifestyle of a cyber security professional? Ben was motivated to earn a decent wage while having enough family time.
“To leave the Marines and match or even surpass the wage which I had gotten to after 13 years of service felt like it wasn’t possible, it turns out it was very achievable,” he shares. “We also spoke about 4 on 4 off shift patterns which appealed to me, as now I was leaving the service, I wanted to spend more time with my young son.”
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Positioning Himself for Cyber Career Success
“The more I discovered about cyber security and all it encompassed I decided from that point, that was what I wanted to do,” says Ben. On Aaron’s recommendation, he visited a website called www.TechVets.co.
“The TechVets website was clear, easy to navigate and explained all aspects and different pathways you could go down within Cyber Security. I soon realized that I could solely use this website to get a career as a SOC Analyst, which was the position I chose for my beginning in my Cyber career. All the course material to go from zero to hero in your own time from home.”
It wasn’t just course material that Ben found through TechVets.
“When I first started revising for my qualifications, I used the TechVets Discord channel a lot to ask what at the time I thought to be stupid questions,” he says. “Regardless of what I asked, how simple or complicated, I was always answered by a member of the community promptly. I used the CV writing service of the website which was a big help. I used every aspect of the website, and it was all to great benefit.”
Outside of TechVets, Ben recommends ‘Professor Messer’s free online videos to help you revise for several cyber security qualifications, plus the Gen Dit Network on LinkedIn.
Encouraging Veterans to Pursue Cyber and Tech
Now that he’s got a great cyber security job, how does he feel?
“Although I am very proud to have served, I do not regret leaving the military. I found a new career that interests me, works around my new life and circumstances, pays well, and has an excellent work life balance as well as brilliant progression prospects.”
If that appeals to you, Ben’s advice is to trust your training.
“I would say, not to be worried. I think if you apply the same qualities and focus you use daily serving in the military then you won’t have a problem finding work on the outside.”
He points to five main qualities that most ex-service people already have:
Combine those with support from other members of the ex-Forces community and the sky’s the limit!
“When you finally make that leap of faith you will soon realise there is a massive number of veterans living happily in the civilian world and willing to help transitioning servicemen and women,” Ben insists. “I would like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to the team at TechVets for providing the free training, pathways and courses which have helped me choose and get this position! What started as a quick glance over their website to deciding to pursue a career in cyber security has been a great journey so far…Really looking forward to the future and excited for the many opportunities that are now available to me as a result of choosing this career.”
You can follow Ben’s journey on LinkedIn, or read more about service leavers in cyber and
technology careers at the link below.