As technology advances and the realm of cyberspace becomes more central in our personal and professional lives, understanding the landscape of cyber security and technological policy will become ever more important.

The cyber security and technology policy sectors can often seem complex and confusing. However, as we move towards a world with technology at the heart of nearly everything we do, these fields will undoubtedly become increasingly relevant and important to understand. 

Careers of the Future is an original series airing exclusively on The Ismaili TV, where students and young professionals can hear directly from Ismailis at the leading edge of their fields about how to most effectively prepare for the future of work.

In a recent episode on the Future of Cyber Security and Technology Policy, Irfan Hemani, the deputy director for cyber security at the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, shared insights on how the field might evolve over the coming years. 

Irfan predicts that cyber security will become more interdisciplinary and that technology policy will become key to the routine operations of organisations and individuals alike. “I think if it’s not already, [technology] will soon be ubiquitous in how we do things,” he says.

Despite a common perception that you can only work in these fields if you have certain technical skills, such as coding or an understanding of network architecture, the nature of these sectors is rapidly changing.

“It’s a growing field. It has a reputation for being quite technical… it doesn’t have to be,” says Irfan. “You can enter the sector through traditional ways, such as computer science degrees, learning how to work on particular programmes or applications, or through the security route, but there’s also much broader business functions in cyber security.”

As the field grows, while technical roles will continue to be more important, Irfan foresees great value in analytical roles, noting that employers will be looking for people with business and relationship management skills. In fact, Irfan shared that well-developed soft skills, such as communication, teamwork, and project management, are often the key differentiating factors for who gets hired for a position in cyber security or technology policy.

Not surprisingly, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on how governments and organisations think about cyber security. While the shift to a virtual world has enabled greater connectivity, it has also exposed us to more security vulnerabilities. 

With organisations having rushed to adapt to remote working, and develop digital and educational infrastructure to allow for secure and productive virtual work settings, the changes brought forth by the pandemic are likely to have a longer-term impact on cyber security as a field. Understanding and investing in protections against new cyber risks that have become common during the pandemic, adapting for a hybrid work format, and developing new, more robust operating models will all be on the cyber security to-do list for organisations as they emerge from the public health crisis.

With so many changes coming to the field and a promise that technology will continue to be central to our professional world, there is great opportunity for students looking to make a career in these fields. As for what young people might do to prepare for the future of work in such a rapidly growing sector, Irfan says research and developing transferable skills go a long way.

“Find out what you really enjoy doing, what you have a passion for, and what drives you,” says Irfan, “and don’t be afraid to change when that changes. The world of work is such now that you don’t necessarily have to stick to one thing – we have a lot more flexibility. Build up that toolkit of yours that allows you to do what you want to do.”

For more on how to equip yourself for the future of work, you can view Irfan’s episode here and all episodes of the Careers of the Future series here.