Viona Agushi took her first career steps in human resources, but all the while, she nurtured a growing interest in cybersecurity.
“While my time in HR allowed me to foster strong interpersonal connections and promote professional growth, I found myself increasingly captivated by the intricate world of cybersecurity,” she says.
“What truly piqued [my interest] was the evolving landscape of the technology and its profound impact on our daily lives. The constant innovation and reliance on digital platforms exposed the vulnerabilities that come with this progress. This realization ignited a passion within me to contribute to safeguarding our interconnected world.”
Nearly one year later, Viona is now a cybersecurity analyst at CLS where she’s building a thriving technology career. We sat down with Viona to hear more about her transition into the cybersecurity realm, including how CLS has supported her along the way.
Synergy between the classroom & workplace
Seeking a new challenge outside of human resources, Viona enrolled in a Computer Information Systems degree while simultaneously working a part-time position with CLS, the company delivering a critical settlement service for the global FX market.
“It was an incredibly enriching and transformative experience,” Viona says. “It provided me with a holistic perspective on the field, bridging the gap between theoretical knowledge gained in classrooms and its real-world applications in a professional setting.”
One of the most valuable aspects of this experience was the synergy between her academic studies and practical work experience.
“I could witness first-hand how risk management, networking, vulnerability management, and other topics played out in real life,” Viona explains. “The theories and concepts I learned in classes became tangible when I was able to directly apply them to actual projects and challenges in the workplace.”
Additionally, Viona was able to shadow more experienced analysts in their day-to-day tasks, helping her to see real-world applications of the theories and concepts from her textbooks.
The impact of mentorship
CLS’s strong culture of mentorship also empowered Viona throughout her pivot into cybersecurity.
“I had the opportunity to engage with professionals from diverse fields,” she explains. “I quickly realized that the team was really supportive, offering a wealth of advice across a range of areas.”
This advice encompassed more than just the logistics of her role. Viona received thoughtful career insights, strategies for personal growth, effective networking techniques, and input on career direction.
“This exposure not only broadened my horizons but also helped me understand the importance of holistic growth. CLS's commitment to nurturing a culture of mentorship and knowledge sharing played a pivotal role in enhancing my understanding of diverse fields and in shaping my professional journey,” Viona confirms.
For the love of cybersecurity
After completing her part-time work with CLS, Viona wasn’t ready to leave.
“I found myself deeply drawn to the organization’s commitment to security, its innovative approach to technology, and the stimulating challenges that the role represents,” she shares. “This, coupled with the engaging and collaborative work environment, made the decision to stay on a natural progression for my career journey.”
Viona progressed into a full-time cybersecurity analyst — and hasn’t looked back.
“My favorite thing about working in cybersecurity is the constant thrill of solving puzzles and staying one step ahead of cybercriminals. It’s like a never-ending game of cat and mouse where I get to use my skills to protect sensitive information and digital systems from all sorts of threats,” Viona enthuses.
“There is this incredible satisfaction that comes with successfully identifying vulnerabilities, crafting strong defenses, and helping to maintain the integrity of networks and data. Cybersecurity is always evolving, which means I’m constantly learning and adapting to new challenges, and that keeps me on my toes.”
4 tips for early career cybersecurity professionals
If you’re pursuing a career in cybersecurity, Viona leaves you with these four pieces of advice on growth and skill development:
- Keep learning: “Stay hungry for knowledge and keep up with the ever-changing cybersecurity landscape. The field is dynamic with new threats and technologies emerging regularly.”
- Seek hands-on experience: “Theory is essential, but practical experience is invaluable. Set up your own lab environment to experiment with various tools, techniques, and vulnerabilities in a controlled setting.”
- Network and collaborate: “Connect with fellow cybersecurity professionals, both online and offline. Attend conferences, seminars, and events to meet people in the field.”
- Stay vigilant: “Always act responsibly, avoid engaging in malicious activities, and prioritize legality and integrity. This will ensure your professional reputation and contribute to the positive growth of the cybersecurity community as a whole.”