In our latest TechVets podcast, we dive into the life of Mhairi J, a Royal Navy veteran and military spouse, whose self-determination and belief made her achieve her dream of becoming a cybersecurity expert.
Mhairi’s story is a shining example of resilience, grit, and the pursuit of one’s true passion. She has faced numerous challenges and celebrated remarkable accomplishments throughout her journey, making her story an inspiration for ex-Service personnel and forces family members striving to achieve career satisfaction.
It all began with Mhairi’s bold and adventurous spirit when she made the impulsive decision to join the Royal Navy.
Listen to the interview now:
During her time in the Royal Navy, Mhairi faced her fair share of hurdles. Battling anxiety and struggling with self-confidence, she encountered a series of career setbacks. But a pivotal moment arose when she crossed paths with her future husband, a fellow Navy member whose career was soaring, in stark contrast to her professional journey. It was this moment that catalysed her decision to take redundancy, tie the knot, and embrace motherhood. But her journey as a military spouse had its own set of challenges, including loneliness and limited career opportunities.
Feeling unfulfilled with temporary jobs, Mhairi decided it was time for a change and turned to Annette Berry at The Forces Employment Charity for guidance that put her on a path toward self-improvement and higher education.
“After I had my daughter, I got a job. I got a job for a company doing more in-depth IT support and programming. I started to get really interested and really enjoyed it. I knew that a technical role was more of what I was aiming at…” – Mhairi.
As Mhairi continued to climb the career ladder, her curiosity gravitated toward the realm of cybersecurity and her transition from a part-time IT job to a role as a security analyst marked a significant turning point. It didn’t take long for her to become passionate about the cybersecurity world and want to take the next step – getting a degree in Computing.
The first year of University was particularly challenging. Her husband was on a nine-month deployment but Mhairi’s dedication to her education didn’t waver and she secured a BSc Honours in Computing from Portsmouth University.
“It was the first time we’d ever done a nine-month deployment. My oldest was eight months old when he went away.”
“And it was an emotional time, especially because I had exams and my little girl had decided to get chicken pox, hand, foot and mouth, and scare the teachers with random behaviour. And I could not call my husband.”
“It’s a Navy wife, like a bipolar parent, co-parent, single parent, co-parent, single parent. It’s such a messed up head experience because one week you’re a co-parent and you’re given consistent, clear rules. The next minute you’re a single parent and you’ve got both heads on at the same time. And you’re so confused. The kid’s so confused…. And that was all while juggling the degree.”
Life as a military spouse can be hard, and Mhairi’s experience sheds light on the sacrifices and commitment that military families, especially women, make to pursue their dreams.
“Just don’t think about where you haven’t got to and how hard it is. Just keep going.”
So she did.
“So I worked like my absolute butt off and got myself through university. I graduated with a degree in computing and got my first job, which was a security job.”
“ It really does work. And all the support that you get from that as well was just fantastic. People think you have to be technical. You really don’t. There were teachers. There were nurses. Jack of all trades. There was one guy who was a dancer and he retrained on Caps Lock and then went to become a cyber architect.”
After completing her CapsLock course and applying to the top three companies she wanted to work for, she got her dream job in cybersecurity.
Mhairi’s transformation from a lacking-in-confidence Navy veteran to a confident and passionate cybersecurity expert is a testament to the power of determination and self-belief. With the right support (from people like Annette Berry at The Forces Employment Charity) and the right mindset, it is possible to balance family life and a successful and rewarding career.
Also, jump into TechVets’ Discord channel and you’ll find the latest information about Capslock courses.