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Cyber security career progression - from salesperson to Global I.T. security officer

We catch up with one of Learning People’s shining stars Zack Gibbons to find out more about his IT career progression.

How certifications have affected his life and his career, and what career progression advice he has for new Learning People students.


Zack was always a bit of a techy growing up – but only got into the sector later in life. 

Not wanting to follow the traditional Uni route – Zack chose the work option and started out in sales – but 2 years in, when one of the IT guys left his company, he jumped on the opportunity to take his place. 

Getting bored with the standard support role, Zack looked at cyber security as a specialism mainly due to his personal interest in the subject. 


Why did you go for the CEH? 

The CEH meant that I could provide security as a service – it’s very hands on and makes computing fun again !


Why did you go for the CISSP?

Where the CEH is hands-on, the CISSP is more on the managerial and business side of things – once you know what you’re doing with computers the CISSP helps you understand how a business operates and the type of constraints and limitations you might have as a business. What sort of things you need to be aware of and follow or should have in place as part of a cyber security strategy – so much more of a ‘swiss army knife’ and ‘jack of all trades’ type of cert’. 


What was more difficult to learn and pass out of the CEH and CISSP? 

They’re completely different – the CISSP is a mile wide and an inch deep – it makes you look at a lot of different things but only to a certain point – not ‘uber detailed’.  CEH is a lot more focused on what you’re supposed to be doing as an ethical hacker itself – rather than the standards surrounding it. So both have different focuses.  


What helped secure your role as a global IT security officer? 

It was the combination of the 2 certs that made me stand out as an applicant. As soon as I put myself out there I had a lot of offers that were made available in different places and a lot of people that were interested in giving me interviews – it also gave me loads of confidence when walking into the interview about what I could discuss with them – thanks to the CEH I was also able to perform some ‘background research’ on the company before I went to meet them – and present my findings!  


What was your motivation for doing the CHFI? 

When I was studying the CEH the CHFI was just coming out – but it’s not one that you can jump straight into – so it made sense to get the CEH under my belt first. And when my boss asked if there’s any additional training and certs I’d like to get – I immediately told him the CHFI was on my list and they were happy to help.


Cyber security career progression 


What’s next in your cyber security career progression?

It’s all about handling the current situation on the planet at the moment and the best thing to give yourself are options – I like to have options – and now I have them, thanks to the certs. The combination of CEH, CISSP, and CHFI allows me to walk in any area of cyber security.  I personally prefer to be hands-on, being the guy that says this is what I’ve found, and this is what you need to do about it – and because of the certifications people know that I’m giving proper advice which isn’t just from one perspective. 


For example, an engineer will think about things from his perspective and not necessarily the business point of view. I’m able to think about both the technical and business implications and present a middle ground. 


Any career progression advice for students?

Make effective use of your time.  Rather than just watching Netflix, fill yourself with knowledge and boost your options. The time that I saved by working from home during the lock-down was put towards the CHFI – I could have just used that time watching T.V. and been in the same position with the same knowledge, but now, I’ve got another high level cyber qualification and even more options.

If you’d like to find out more about a career change or progression within IT or cyber security, speak with one of our expert career consultants today and experience world class education and support that gives you options.