My Career Story - From Med School to Security Guy abstract close up photo of a chain fence

My Career Story – From Medicine to Cybersecurity

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Some people have been lucky enough to find the answer to this, others, not so much.

The truth is, it’s fine if you don’t have it figured out yet because sometimes you don’t figure it out until you’re all grown up and have tested the waters, and that’s okay.

To help people explore different career options, learn from other people’s stories and understand how people grow their careers, I will be sharing career stories from all around.

Today’s guest shares his career story of going from Medicine to Cybersecurity.

I find his story inspiring because, in all the years that I have known him, he has remained an aspirational hard worker who is not afraid of change and always thinks ahead.

I hope you enjoy this.

My Career Story – From Medicine to Cybersecurity


What do you do?

I’m a cloud security engineer.


What did you study?

Computer science.


What was your first job?

It was a network security engineer role.


Is there a difference?

Before now I used to try to simulate cyber-attacks. You know the way bad guys try to break into an environment? We used to simulate that to help customers understand the weak points in their setup.

Then I had a stint as a defender, protecting my employer from these attacks, a blue team so to speak.

Now, my work revolves around the security of cloud infrastructure and helping customers solve problems related to this.

In simple terms, I press computers for a living.


What attracted you to Cybersecurity?

Until my junior year, I didn’t think I’d stay in Tech after school.

I was getting a degree in Computer Science but I used to think that I would finish and go do Business or Law or something because I wasn’t good at programming.

Now I know that it is because I didn’t practice, but I didn’t then because I was a fool.


I feel like when you think you are intelligent, you expect things to stick and when it doesn’t, you think it’s because it’s not good enough for you, not because you are not good enough, so you blame that thing and say it’s probably not for you.


That’s what I did with programming. I knew math and I knew other things so when programming wasn’t working, I blocked it out saying I didn’t care about it.

Then one day in junior year, I walked past some seniors presenting their theses and I went into the room and sat down. As I was about to leave, one of the guys mentioned that they were planning a summer class for Applied Cryptography.

I didn’t know what that entailed but it sounded interesting, so I went up to the guy later and asked him exactly what the class was about. He explained it to me and gave me a book – The Code Book by Simon Singh.

I finished that book in one week, that’s the fastest I have ever read anything. It was a lot of fun for me, It had math and code, (not programming code thankfully, but patterns and ciphers) and I loved it.

I had to tell (read lie) my parents that the summer programme was compulsory so they would pay and let me travel back to school during summer.

I spent 6 incredible weeks in a summer class that provided clarity on a lot of things related to information security.

From that moment on, I knew what I wanted to do after graduation, but there was the little problem of how to go from where I was to…there.


So how did you figure it out?

After school, I completed my NYSC and a short course and I was hoping to get a job.

I met someone at a wedding and I spoke to him about all these plans I had, I was honestly hoping that I could talk my way into a role at his company, but he was smarter.

I was bouncing ideas off him and he pointed me in the right direction.

It was like telling someone who sold BMWs that I wanted to get a Mercedes, but instead of telling me “Oh, buy my BMW, you’ll like it”, he took me to someone who had exactly what I needed.

But I’d “lost” 2 years trying to get to this point.


What happened then?

The man from the wedding referred me to a company where I got an interview that went very well, but the employer said I would have to work for free while under probation. The explanation was – I didn’t have any practical experience so they would have to train me and in that period I would not be adding value.

I took the job and worked like hell. What I lacked in experience, I made up for with intensity and enthusiasm. At the end of that month, I was paid N20,000.

That figure increased considerably within a couple of months.

I had to sacrifice short-term gain for long-term value. No grudges.

When I tell this story, people often find it difficult to believe that a person would work without pay. I could do it because my folks took care of my feeding and transportation. I recognize my privilege, I didn’t have any responsibilities or I would never have done it.


How was the experience?

Amazing! It was the best thing ever at the time.

The first month was rough because I did not have practical experience.

One time, we were working out of a client’s office; there was so much information going around that I had to step out, find a place to sit, think about my life and ask if I was in the right place.

I was close to tears when a senior colleague came to ask me what the problem was.

I told him I did not think I could do the work because it was too much, there was too much information to process and I had a lot to read to catch up.

He told me to stop getting worked up, and that with practice, understanding would come in time.

Fast forward to last year, I went to that office for a different reason, saw the spot where I almost broke down and remembered sitting there clueless and almost broken.

I called that same man to tell him where I was and to ask if he remembered and he just kept laughing.

Funny, he’s joining me at my current gig soon.


I like that you just spoke about something a lot of people face. You could be 10 years into a career, get a new job and still think “What am I doing here? I can’t do this”

My current job forces me to fight impostor syndrome every day. It helps to know that everyone here battles with it because we’re all solving a different problem every day.

I have also started to get comfortable with not knowing stuff. I’m not sure if that makes sense but when something I don’t know comes along, I don’t panic as much because it is just a chance for me to learn again. It may take time but I will learn it and I will move on.


For as long as I’ve known you, at every point in time, you’re always studying for an exam. All this effort makes me feel like you’re always thinking ‘What next?”

I have to do it. The way this industry works, if you don’t stay up to date, you’ll be left behind.

I even write code now!

I think about it sometimes and it scares me because – when does this end?


Beyond studying, how did you get from where you started to where you are now?

Stalking the right people.

Information is power. When I see someone who has made a million dollars, I ask how, to see if I can do the same myself.

I’ve found that most Nigerians will not tell you how, so the next best thing to do is go through their LinkedIn to see where they started from.

So on LinkedIn, I connect with people I admire and try to see where they started from, what projects they did and how long it took.

I also google a lot of nonsense, which I call “useless information”, I have browser tabs open that I’ll probably never get to.


I thought LinkedIn stalking was just my thing. When I see people I find interesting, I want to see their career progression so I can plan my own.

There’s a brilliant Nigerian woman doing awesome stuff at a top global sportswear brand, I’ll send you her page so you can see.

Another way to progress is to teach people. I mentor people. Not because I know how to mentor but because I think it is a way for me to confirm that I know what I am talking about.

I believe the greatest gift I can share is what I uncover after challenging and overcoming my fears.

Plus, it’s one thing to say you know something and it’s another thing to be able to teach it.


I agree. With French or Brand Strategy, in order to make the journey simpler for people, I try to teach them all the things I wish I’d known. I always have to do research to back it up with data and that helps me.

Exactly, I am able to give you what you need to pass.


As a child, did you ever want to be a Doctor or Lawyer like everyone else?

Yes, and it wasn’t just a child’s dream because I got admission into medical school and I was there for a couple of years.


What happened? How did you go from medicine to cybersecurity? Was it hard to make that decision?

It wasn’t easy, to be honest.

When I figured it wasn’t for me, I couldn’t exactly say it, I could only do things that were within my power so I skipped class a lot, then I failed and they made that decision for me.


Oh wow, that’s like actual self-sabotage.

Yeah, I wasn’t actively doing it. I just really didn’t want to be there. I could see what was coming but I didn’t do anything to stop it.

That was a low point in my life. I mean, it’s not the only time I have failed but it’s the lowest I have ever been.

At the time, it didn’t seem like a good decision and it could have backfired spectacularly, but I have folks who were able to look beyond their anger and disappointment to give me a chance to start all over again, in a much better environment as well. For that, I am eternally grateful.

It was tough for them, I feel bad for them anytime I think about it – what I put them through.

My job is starting to make sense to them now and that’s the one thing I take out of everything that happened in my life.

My parents are proud of me because I was able to turn around all the nonsense that happened.

But it didn’t come easy, it was tough


Failure is tough. How did you get over it?

I haven’t gotten over it. It’s what pushes me.

I know how it is to fail and even though I know it’s not realistic, I don’t want to feel that way again, so I try my best to make sure it doesn’t happen, at least not as often.

Talking about it still scares me.


Are there any things that you feel would have prepared you better for this career?

A mentor.

I guess these people were there at the time but I didn’t reach out to them – maybe I didn’t know how, but it would have made a lot of difference, someone to help me avoid potholes because they’d been down the same road.


What does growth look like in a career like this?

Growth in Information Security depends on what you want to do with your life.

Do you want to be a software security engineer, penetration tester, cyber defender, or do you prefer risk, compliance, governance etc?

There are so many options and the best thing is, there will almost always be a job for you in any country on the planet.


Expectations Vs Reality, what are those things that you would typically think about the role that differ from reality?

You know how in movies, you can see the hacker in a hoodie clacking on the keyboard, pressing pa, pa, pa, pa, pa, before shouting “I’m in!”?

Yeah, that almost never happens.

A lot of thought goes into what we do behind the scenes – a lot of planning and a lot of research.

Most people think you’re some kind of rockstar but a huge part of what we do is read and try to replicate, the rockstar bit is like 1%.

Also, the good thing with IT generally is that you don’t need a traditional background (Computer Science, Engineering etc) to be successful. It helps to an extent, but it’s not a deal-breaker


Are you where you want to be?

If you had asked me this question 5 years ago, yes, absolutely, this is where I wanted to be.

The goal was to leave Nigeria and get a great job, but I’ve only been here a few months and I’m already thinking “What next?”

It is equal parts exciting and terrifying!


If you were not doing this, where would you be?

I don’t know. Accounting, most likely.

I wanted to write ICAN at some point because I love math and I thought I would kick ass because “Accounting is plus and minus, how difficult can it be?” That’s silly, I know.


Is there anything else you wish you could have known?

If I had known it would require this much studying to stay up to date, maybe I wouldn’t have bothered. I would have gone to learn a trade. Yeah, I’m lazy.



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