Half a century ago it was the norm to choose a career and stick to it until retirement. But today’s world is different.
It has been predicted that in the future, the average Australian could have up to 17 different jobs and five careers over their lifetime. Some are already living this reality, with career journeys that read like a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ novel.
Su Rogerson is one example. A keen musician, Su achieved her first degree in secondary education with music performance, maths and physics. Her early teaching career began as a science and physics teacher, but Su left this to pursue academic interests, beginning her master’s in history and Philosophy of Science, then moving into formal logic for her PhD, spending time at MIT as a visiting scholar.
Su joined her love of music and education to combine careers as secondary school teacher and an academic. Over the last 18 years, she has been teaching music to secondary school students teaching clarinet, saxophone and flute, as well as conducting several bands while also lecturing and tutoring part-time at Monash University.
In her spare time, Su also worked with younger kids as a Scouts leader, a role she remains committed to today. In fact, it was a serendipitous conversation with a scouting friend that kickstarted a monumental change in Su’s career and the move that brought her to Lion.
The challenge of change
Su had been considering a career change for some time, with a desire to use her PhD area skills in problem solving but unsure of where to start. She found herself chatting to a friend from Scouts who had seen her skills in action as a scout leader and he suggested she consider data protection roles. “He acknowledged that, while I had no direct experience in cyber security, everything to be successful in the role – problem solving, management, leadership, communication and engagement – were all part of my skill set,” says Su. “He suggested some things to read and research, which I did straight away and then I applied.”
Now, half a year into her new role of Data Security Specialist at Lion, Su is happily immersed in her new work environment and team. “I love learning new things and working collaboratively,” Su says.
I love being given room to ‘follow my nose’. Someone once explained to me that being told to follow my nose was a huge compliment, so when my leader asked me to do this at Lion, I felt confident that I could make a difference here.
Su’s role is to protect Lion from potentially harmful cyber-attacks and to educate Lion people about safe cyber practice. She helps reduce the risk of data loss, heading up a team that uses security tools to keep Lion’s confidential data safe, reviews data access for external collaborators and makes recommendations for improvement around risk minimisation.
Recognising transferrable skills
While it sounds like a far cry from her previous life in academics, Su can see clear parallels in the way she works. “I was reflecting the other day that all the papers I’ve given and submitted to peer reviewed journals has stood me in good stead to receive critiques on processes I am putting in place at work,” she says. “I like people engaging with me on my work and helping to bring it up to the best standard it can be.”
She also draws on her leadership skills learned as a music teacher. “Conducting requires all sorts of leadership skills,” she notes. “You need direction, a plan, focus and be able to deliver for concerts and competitions. You also need to be able to read a situation and adapt quickly.”
Now settled at Lion, Su has no regrets about making the move, which was enthusiastically supported by her friends and colleagues. “My friends from my academic past and those who’ve known me forever are very excited for me,” Su says. “They love seeing me getting to use my problem-solving skills and think that this role will tap into my analytical and big picture thinking.”
Su’s decision to ‘follow her nose’ toward a new career path and use her skills in a completely new way has clearly been a great move for her (and for Lion). Happily, it hasn’t impacted her ability to use her musical talents, either. While the pandemic has slowed down live performance, Su is still playing saxophone and singing in bands and performed at the Newport Jazz Festival at the end of April.
Su will also continue to volunteer as a Scout leader, camping and hiking with her troop. She also enjoys the community service aspect of scouting and being able to contribute in a positive way. Having given so much to so many, Su’s also happy to share the best piece of life advice she ever received and one she lives by. “Go for it!”
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