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Class of 2018: Umera's balancing act pays off with top cyber security job

When Umera Saddiq graduates from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) this week, it will be the culmination of a year’s worth of hard work and struggle mixed with enjoyment and pride.

The 30-year-old completed an MSc in Cyber Security in just one year, successfully passing eight modules whilst also working full time in a high pressured job at a law firm.

Umera Saddiq

Cyber security has always been Umera’s passion and she decided to combine the master’s degree with her job as a legal secretary to follow her dream.

Despite balancing full-time work with the degree, Umera was able to come away with a 2:1 classification and produce a dissertation about phishing emails which is currently in the process of being published by a science journal.

On the completion of her degree she was able to secure a job with cyber security specialists Capgemini, where she now works as a cyber security analyst in the security operations centre for a prestigious client.

Umera believes that studying at DMU enabled her to be in the position to go straight into a role at such a respected company.

She said: “The eight core modules are what I think employers are looking for. They were very intense, however also very rewarding.

“It was a challenge because obviously my background was in legal rather than IT, but I was able to complete it and I’m graduating with a 2:1 and my dissertation is being published so I’m very proud of that. I didn’t expect all of this and I’m really pleased.”

As well as setting her up for a career in cyber security, Umera also enjoyed the opportunity to work with world-renowned experts in cyber security and the wider student experience that DMU offered.

She added: “The best things about DMU were my colleagues, the tutors, the environment and just being able to study cyber security, because that’s my real passion. It was enjoyable, it was fast-paced and I got a real thrill out of it.

“The academics were good to work with and supportive. When I was stuck on my assignments they were approachable and I could go and see them and talk it through with them.”

The balancing act of working long hours alongside her degree wasn’t without its challenges, but Umera credits her partner and family for supporting her throughout and telling her not to give up. 

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“My programme leader Ali Al-Bayati was very supportive,” she explained. “At one stage I wanted to drop out because it was quite technical and challenging but he told me to stick to it and carry on. So I did and I’m glad that I did.”

“I was working all day and then using the evenings and nights for my assignments. I have no idea how I fitted everything in, it was a crazy time and I felt overwhelmed at times, but I managed to do it.”

Having achieved her dream of securing a role working in cyber security, Umera is now looking forward to taking a step back and enjoying her graduation from DMU.

She said: “It will be a very proud moment when I graduate. I’ve achieved all of this within a year so I didn’t expect a 2:1, a publication and a job at with a prestige organisation. It’s a dream come true.

“The six months employed by Capgemini have been a real eye-opener and everything I have learned theoretically at DMU has made sense when I’ve applied it practically.”
Posted on Monday 22nd January 2018

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