James Dennet, Information Security Advisor, IBM Apprentice, September 2012 – present

I joined the IBM Apprenticeship scheme a year after I had left college. I knew I didn’t want to go to uni, but wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do. Fortunately, my tutor at college told me there was going to be a talk from IBM about their apprenticeship scheme and I should go along. Well, needless to say I did and the rest, as they say, is history. Here we are 17 months into the scheme and I’ve loved every minute. My time consists of a small portion of application development – working with a colleague on collaborative applications to aid with automation in the business. The rest of my time is spent as an Information Security Advisor (ISA) for three different strategic outsourcing accounts, I am part of a security team on one large account, and am the lead ISA on the two remaining, smaller, accounts. There is a great deal of responsibility with the role, which has led to me developing the ability to work well under pressure.

0800 – Arrived at the office. Farnborough today. I haven’t been here in months now, as I don’t have a requirement to be at this location usually but today was different, as I will explain later.

0815 – Began morning tasks, checking through the compliance reporting tools to see what changes have taken place overnight. This allows me to identify tasks to take on during the day if any of the metrics have slipped. Compliance is key in security and I hate to see anything other than 100%.

0845 – By now I’ve recorded the statistics for the day and discovered there are some new applications showing for one of the accounts. Some applications need to be scanned, whereas some do not. I checked through the requirements, discovering that these new applications did not need to be.

0900 – Next step is to check through my email – luckily, I didn’t have too many to review today so this didn’t take too long. Sometimes an email can arrive that results in the day being spent on that particular issue so I’m glad that wasn’t the case today.

0945 – Having reviewed everything, my to do list was ready for the day. 1000 was the big event of the day, so I went to meet up with Jim and Johnnie beforehand.

1000 – GTS Executive Round Table with the Vice President of Business Development and Sales for Strategic Outsourcing. Well, this was a fantastic opportunity to listen to the stories and advice from Albert Joseph. Albert talked through the many different roles he has had in his 30 year career with IBM and explained his way of thinking, detailing some of the risks and decisions he has taken to get him where he is today.

1145 – After the round table it was back to work. There were calls to be made, emails to be sent and risks to be raised! Before any of that could happen, one of the service managers called me to discuss some new Key Performance Indicators that have been introduced. We discussed what they meant to the account and how we would deal with them going forward to ensure that not only were they completed correctly, but that we were completely compliant and in the green! You can never have enough green!

1200 – Next, I had to speak to the health checking team to arrange for some manual health checks to take place instead of the automated ones that we attempted to run earlier in the day. The automated tools were unable to connect to the servers for some reason, but this is not enough to prevent a health check from being completed. They just have to be performed manually instead. Fortunately, there were just two required so the team were able to get them back to me within the hour.

1215 – Lunch time! Cleverly, I left my food at home today and as I live about an hour away from the office, it was a quick trip to the shops for me instead!

1245 – Back in the office and before I even started on lunch, there were at least three messages needing my attention. One of the account Delivery Project Executives was asking for an update on a non-compliance issue that I was working on as his boss had been asking for an update. The issue was in hand so it was just a case of providing an update of the current situation – out of my hands at this point as I was waiting for a change that had been made to reflect in the metrics.

1400 – The afternoon carried on with the monthly review of the operational risks on the account. I joined a conference call with the security manages and management team. The team discussed the risks and assigned necessary actions to take away from the meeting. Following the review, we discussed the plans for migrating all the risk data into a new tool as the current one is being closed down shortly.

1500 – Stopped for a brief catch up with some of the other apprentices; Jim who was in the roundtable earlier and Yaz, based in Farnborough whom I haven’t seen in ages!

1530 – Spent the next half an hour tracking down some risk documents that had been stored away. I’d never used that method of backups before so that took some time to understand!

1600 – The next hour saw me working through a few items on the to do list. A project that has been running in the background to add storage devices into the health checking database is starting to come to a close as all the parts are falling into place. There is only one device in scope for that account so it is a good way to learn the process without being swamped. To get the device loaded correctly, I have to produce a service request that needs a copy of a clean health check and some metadata about the device – well, this wasn’t ready to hand… After some digging around, a call with service management and a chat with the database lead, turns out we do not actually need the missing data! This meant I could get the service request completed and submitted.

1700 – My final hour was spent planning some events that were going to happen for the rest of the week, writing this very blog post and making a Vine for National Apprentice Week with Jim!

Every day is completely different for me. Which I love. I’m never bored and there are always new challenges right around the corner. I will be moving to a new account in a few months time so whole new experiences are approaching rapidly. Originally I didn’t know what I wanted to do… Now I don’t look back.


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