J: Sure! My name is James Collins, a Lead Cyber Security Consultant at EY Ireland Financial Services. I’m originally from Dublin but haven’t lived there in a long time. I originally started my career in customer support, moved to malware analysis, returned to customer support before re-training for a longer-term career in cyber security in 2015.
J: My early career in customer support was very successful earning me awards and many satisfied customers. I’ve always liked using my experience and knowledge to benefit others. With the world becoming increasingly technology-focused, I wanted to apply the same concept but to the world of technology and cyber security. Consulting for EY was a natural choice.
J: EY had success from a very early stage with cyber security working with the most well-known financial services organisations here in Ireland. EY was relatively new to cyber security when I was looking for a role in 2015. I knew part of their 2020 vision was to upscale and have a much wider impact on clients with the firm’s new guiding purpose of “Building a better working world”. This challenge and ambition very much interested me and I wanted to be part of that journey.
J: The people! Ever since joining EY in 2015, the people I have and continue to work with are so welcoming, supportive, understanding, and motivated to do our best for our clients.
I love working together as a team within Technology Consulting to solve our clients’ most difficult technology challenges – particularly in cyber security. It’s an area that is becoming more and more relevant as our world becomes more connected and we adapt to hybrid working. As we support our clients, we can see the positive impacts we are having – making their business and their customers safer. That’s what drives me and I love that I work in something I’m passionate about.
J: No two days are the same! During my first 2 years with EY, I was fortunate to travel a lot throughout Europe working on projects such as vulnerability management, data protection, improving the use of cyber threat intelligence, and cyber security process improvement.
It is challenging but I have learned skills and discovered talents that I never knew I had. Working long-term overseas has given me experience and skills that I still apply today and makes me thrive in new environments and deliver tangible results quickly for clients.
It’s also very fast paced and you need to be agile, but time flies when you are enjoying yourself! Sometimes you have your day and calendar all planned out and then an incident happens which needs your expertise urgently. It’s exciting! You quickly learn to balance priorities for: clients, your team, EY, and your personal life.
Right now, I can count at least 12 different nationalities within the team I work with here in Ireland! I have worked with EY colleagues from other western European countries but also as far as Singapore, China, Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Norway, and the US. When visiting our EY offices abroad, EY people are so welcoming and you feel that you are already among friends and are united further by working for a common goal. I’ve made lifelong friends this way and equally among our wider team here in Ireland.
J: Overall, I see several challenges but they could be all grouped within the category of business in the post-pandemic period.
The challenges ahead include compliance with the EU Digital Operational Resilience Act (DORA) during the first half of 2022. Organisations must also work to secure their infrastructure from a cyber security perspective to make certain that changes made during the pandemic to accommodate the rapid deployment of remote working do not negatively impact their security posture in a world where hybrid working will become commonplace.
These challenges add to existing challenges of (among others) making certain of effective identity and access management to corporate resources both remotely and physically in the office, continuing an organisation’s digital strategy, accelerating cloud adoption, and increasing use of automation.
J: EY has always had a culture of supporting our people first. From my very first day in our office, I was welcomed by our team and made to feel right at home. I was supported (and still am) while I was given important opportunities to contribute and learn. In less than 3 months I was working abroad effectively and independently using the new skills I learned.
Our teams always support each and look out for each other. We each know our own strengths and talents and turn to each other first for advice and support. We meet each other throughout the week for work but come together for lunch and even games at lunchtime or after hours! We love getting together on a Friday or the weekend to celebrate a successful week. Multiple parties at Christmas are a familiar occurrence and a fantastic way to celebrate another year together with some fun.
Ever since joining EY, the diversity has always been amazing. There were more than 15 nationalities on the team when I joined and you quickly learn that the world is a small place and we have so many things in common. The sense of humour from our international colleagues was refreshing and definitely helped to break the ice when I joined.
J: I believe EY Hybrid will allow me to achieve the perfect balance between working from the client site, our EY office, with colleagues while also providing the flexibility to work from home whenever I wish.
Its benefits will be having the best of both worlds allowing me to choose where to work to deliver most effectively for our clients. It’s fantastic having the flexibility to have lunch with our clients or with colleagues and still enjoy a work-life balance by getting away from your desk to take a relaxing walk in the middle of the afternoon (particularly useful with the mornings and evening being darker in Winter).
J: From the very beginning, EY provided opportunities for growth and my career development. From initially having minor roles on projects, I was very quickly trusted to take the lead on the subsequent engagements. Before I knew it, less than 3 months later I was based in Europe working for one of our clients on a long-term engagement. The following year, I was the primary point of contact for a different client in a 9-month engagement based in the client’s UK office.
Both of these engagements taught me many things and provided experience that has been an advantage to me ever since. Almost every engagement since this time I am given the lead to run a specific workstream and report directly to the client. I love this type of work since we are directly involved in supporting them and we can see the changes and improvements we are making every day.
Not only have I learned transferrable skills and the ability to thrive in any environment, but I have also earned two new cyber security industry certifications during my time with EY. These have taught me many reusable best practice techniques in the areas of incident response and cyber threat intelligence and have led to those skills being applied in everyday client engagements and some exciting areas I wouldn’t have expected.
J: I believe that EY has a unique blend of older and respected ways of doing business with state-of-the-art technology and solutions to today’s issues. The people who work for EY Ireland are the most welcoming I’ve ever known and recent new joiners to our team say they have had a wonderful onboarding into EY Ireland and made to feel so welcome.
The diversity and willingness to work together for a common goal is so ingrained in our culture that it just feels natural. We are very diverse but are one big family.
J: Absolutely. The world of consulting is like nothing I have experienced during my earlier career. I was an experienced hire but joined EY with the level of experience of a new graduate for this reason. I’m so glad I did and have learned so much.
One colleague who has known me from the beginning said after more than 3 years I had completely changed for the better and was unrecognisable from the person who joined all that time ago. The experience you will gain for however long you stay with us will last a lifetime and your skills will stay with you.
If you want to help our clients, please come and join us. Your work will have positive impacts far beyond the project(s) you work on.
We are currently recruiting for a number of positions within our Consulting team across all levels. To learn more about Consulting Careers in EY Financial Services Ireland, read our People Stories here and explore our current vacancies here.