Posted: 12 Jun. 2023

Without an high level of diversity, it is easy to fall into the trap of one's own specific bubble, in which people with similar backgrounds reaffirm themselves in their beliefs.

Britta, Malin, Martijn & Sebastian are all part of our cyber team with totally different professional backgrounds. How does that work? A little teaser: it takes the team to an even better level of collaboration!

Diversity is our superpower and cyber unites us!
We empower each other. We accelerate growth. We shape the future.
How? With our common passion for topics related to cyber and, much more important, with our diversity in professional backgrounds! 

Without an high level of diversity, it is easy to fall into the trap of one's own specific bubble, in which people with similar backgrounds reaffirm themselves in their beliefs.

Hello everyone, you are all part of Deloitte’s cyber team with different academic backgrounds. What did you study and how did you get in contact with cyber?
Britta: First I studied English and Spanish to become a teacher, then business administration. In my master thesis I combined both worlds by writing about the topic “digitalization in schools” which was also my first touchpoint with subjects related to cyber. I really enjoyed digging into those topics and my brother, who already was part of Deloitte’s cyber team, encouraged me to apply as a consultant. And what can I say: here I am. 😉

Malin: I have a master's degree in biology and got in touch with cyber through a project I supported in my previous job in a management consultancy.

Martijn: I studied computer science at a time when security itself was not a specific focus. After graduating, I started working at a software company where I gained a lot of experience with software-as-a-service solutions and APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), and the security aspects of that. I then joined the in-house startup Topicus KeyHub in 2017, an identity & access management platform. After working for this startup for two years, I realized I wanted to continue my career in security, and even then, Deloitte was one of the leading companies in security consulting, so it was a pretty easy decision.

Sebastian: I have a master’s degree in business psychology, but also a bachelor’s degree in business informatics. For almost 14 years I worked for an international IT company, so I had lots of contact with cyber related topics.

What do you think are your personal advantages and disadvantages in your current role in the cyber team when taking your academic backgrounds into account?
Britta: We are a very diverse team. Being aware of cultural differences was part of my studies and is also helpful when working with international colleagues or on projects with international clients – that’s definitely an advantage. One downside of my professional background might be that I did not bring a lot of knowledge about cyber before I joined Deloitte. I am not a techie either, although some people just assume I am. 😉

Malin: Biology, as a scientifical discipline, is very analytical, evidence-based, and structured. These approaches are also important in our daily work in cyber. However, I can't directly apply what I've learned during my studies the way others can. Whereas, in a broader sense our immune system could also be considered as offensive and defensive security – there are some analogies in the concepts. 😉

Martijn: Because of my technical background I tend to quickly understand the technical implications of certain technologies and threat vectors, as well as the higher level of abstraction. This is an advantage as it is relatively easy to identify potential improvements or gaps in a security architecture and solution. However, it can also be a disadvantage, as there is an obvious disconnect between knowing what needs to be done and explaining and convincing why and how this can be achieved in large enterprises with often organizational, financial, and political challenges.

Sebastian: Since I have an IT/cyber background, I don’t think there are any disadvantages that I studied business psychology to extend my knowledge in this field. I wanted to improve my leadership skills and the knowledge of business psychology often came in handy when I faced difficult situations with my own employees or customers. The psychology knowledge especially helped me during de-escalation.

Britta, Malin & Sebastian, did you face any hurdles when entering the cyber team when coming from a non-cyber-related academic background?
Britta: I don’t think I ran into any hurdles due to my non-cyber-related major. Of course, I had to learn a lot of things in the beginning, and it was difficult sometimes. However, everyone encounters this at some point. For example, when I talk to colleagues with an IT background, they sometimes had the same issues as me. Nobody starting a career in cyber is already an expert on all levels. Therefore, everyone has to learn a lot. Even when you talk to some partners in our cyber team, they will tell you they learn something new pretty much every day.

Malin: Since I already had experience in the field, there were no real hurdles. Nevertheless, sometimes I wish I had studied business informatics or something related.

Sebastian: No, there weren’t any hurdles. As I mentioned before, I do have an IT/cyber background and try to connect the knowledge of both fields.

Malin, your academic background probably stands out the most in your team. What was your motivation back then to study biology and how and why did you choose a career in cyber?
Malin: Even as a child, I was fascinated by nature and wanted to explore everything. This resulted in the desire to become a researcher. Therefore, biology was kind of an obvious choice. During my studies I realized that research means delving very deeply into a particular topic and performing many repetitive experiments and data analysis, which unfortunately did not excite me. I wanted to work in a team and solve problems in less time, so I decided to become a consultant. During this time, I got in touch with Deloitte’s cyber team and was excited about their work because it is a good mix of technical expertise, methodical, and interpersonal work.

Britta, an educational background definitely isn’t typical for anyone working in cyber. Which aspects of your studies do you think have been beneficial when it comes to your job as a senior consultant? 
Britta: The other day we planned a client workshop consisting of many phases for work exercises. I was also involved in the development of an internal training for all our new cyber colleagues. I am sure that my teaching degree has helped a lot with these activities.

Sebastian, your background in business psychology is also rather exotic when talking about cyber. What was your initial career plan and what sparked your interest in cyber topics back then?
Sebastian: Psychology has always fascinated me, but in fact, my original career plan always was and is to work in IT, so I never had to find my interest in cyber: it was always there! Nevertheless, back then, when the management of my former employer asked me if I wanted to become the line manager of 14 employees, I told them I would rather improve my management and leadership skills first. Based on this and my fascination for psychology, I then decided to study business psychology on top.

Martijn, as a computer scientist, you are the only one in the round with a "typical" academic background for a role in Deloitte’s cyber team. What can you learn from your colleagues with different backgrounds?
Martijn: Cyber security consists of much more than just putting the right technology in place. For example, helping large organizations in their adoption of the zero-trust security philosophy requires a concrete strategy that is aligned with business outcomes and security operations. This is where colleagues with other backgrounds add a lot of value, as we need to determine the best approach not only for technology, but also for people and processes. Collaboration with colleagues from different backgrounds is a must in order to provide high added value to our customers.

Different professional backgrounds lead to diversity and different working approaches. What do you think are positive effects on your team’s collaboration and performance?
Britta: I think the most positive effect relates to the entire cyber security picture. We need people from different backgrounds – technical, business, legal, psychological, and so on. This is the only way we can work holistically.

Malin: Within our team, we all have different approaches for finding solutions which we make transparent and discuss. Together, we then collaboratively consider which approach is most beneficial for our customer. This broadens the perspectives of all of us.

Martijn: Without an appropriate level of diversity, it is easy to fall into the trap of your own specific bubble, where people with similar backgrounds enforce each other in being right. This often doesn't lead to practical strategies and doesn’t provide the flexibility needed to serve our clients in the best way possible. In addition, teaching and learning from each other brings great satisfaction, as you can increase your capabilities as a team, which also reflects to our clients and our performance. And finally, it is just more fun to work with colleagues with different backgrounds!

Sebastian: A team consisting of people with different professional backgrounds can tackle different topics from other angles. Having multiple perspectives on something, due to knowledge from other disciplines, increases the range of ways you can deal with something.

And are there negative effects as well?
Britta: If there are, I haven’t figured them out yet.

Malin: Not really. Sometimes you might need longer to speak the "same language", but I wouldn't call that a negative effect.

Sebastian: Yes, that’s true. In some situations, you could end up losing the focus. But locking back to those situations, we have always found an appropriate way to deal with it.

Martijn: In my early Deloitte career, I tended to expect from anyone at cyber to have a strong understanding of technology. Due to different professional backgrounds that was not always the case. I learned, however, that this was more due to my own bubble which I created in 10 years of working with software developers and other technical colleagues. Today, I only see advantages in having different professional backgrounds in our team.

Despite or even because of different academic backgrounds within your cyber team, there is one thing that unites you all: your passion for cyber topics! In what way does this passion express itself in you?
Britta: Cyber security is constantly evolving and there are new things to learn every day.  For me, it is great to see so many changes and to know that cyber will always be a very important part of all our futures.

Malin: My passion shows itself in a positive and fulfilling feeling during meetings with our clients and within our cyber team.

Martijn: It's very cool to see all the different ways adversaries go about trying to find loopholes in systems or people. Understanding the drivers, mapping those to an existing organization’s cyber capabilities and determining what should be done to improve cyber maturity is where I get my energy from!

Sebastian: I love the feeling that I can help our customers to increase their cyber resilience with my knowledge and guidance, and it feels good to protect others and have a mission. Many customers appreciate our work – that's a great feeling!

We are happy to share a lot more inspiring stories of our colleagues about the diversity in Deloitte’s cyber team with you – check it out!

Furthermore, you’re very welcome to get to know more about your career opportunities in the cyber team and to learn more about our cyber services.

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Sven Schulz

Sven Schulz

Employer Branding Manager

Sven ist seit 2018 im Team Employer Branding & Personalmarketing bei Deloitte Deutschland tätig. Dort verantwortet er unter anderem Employer Branding Kampagnen mit Fokus auf berufserfahrene Talente. Im Deloitte Karriere Blog berichtet Sven über aktuelle Karrierethemen und relevante Business Entwicklungen, die Karrieremöglichkeiten für die unterschiedlichsten Profile bereithalten.

Jennifer Koschel

Jennifer Koschel

Associate Manager | Employer Branding

Jennifer ist seit 2019 Teil des Teams Employer Branding & Talent Attraction von Deloitte in Deutschland. Sie verantwortet nicht nur den Karriere-Blog, sondern auch Employer Branding-Kampagnen für verschiedene Businesses und Zielgruppen.