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Case Study: A Journey from Baking to Data Protection with Heather and Sara

In our latest blog post, we dive into the remarkable journey of one of our Data Protection and Information Governance learners, Heather, a former baker turned DPIG apprentice at Securys. Heather’s path to her current role is a testament to the power of determination, curiosity, and seizing opportunities.

Heather shares her motivation for making this career switch, her achievements during her apprenticeship, and her favourite aspects of the programme. She also reflects on the importance of inclusion in the workplace and the support she receives at Securys.

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Heather Cutenar, Privacy Professional at Securys

We also hear from Sara, Heather’s manager and the Co-founder and Practice Lead at Securys. Sara shares her own career journey and explains how she integrates apprentices into the organisation. Heather’s contributions, including her organisational skills and inquisitive nature, have made her an integral part of the team. Sara emphasises the importance of mentorship and a diverse, inclusive workplace, highlighting how it benefits both employees and clients.

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Sara Newman, Co-Founder and Practice Lead at Securys

As National Inclusion Week coincides with this case study, Heather and Sara’s story underscores the value of embracing diversity and providing opportunities for career changers through apprenticeships. Heather’s journey is a testament to the potential that exists when individuals are given the chance to pursue their passions and develop new skills, regardless of their previous careers.

Q&A - Heather

It all started at the age of 16 when I began my scholarship in Professional Patisserie and confectionery. Within 10 years I moved up the ranks and gained titles such as Head Pastry Chef, Head Baker, and Head Cake Decorator for some of top bakeries in London.

After spending a decade in the industry I felt like I hit a ceiling in my career. My growth was stagnant, and my feeling of progression was diminishing. I realised it was time for a change. I’ve always had an interest in tech due to the ever-changing technological landscape, which has continuously inspired me to stay curious and adapt to new innovations. After 2 months of studying I passed my CompTIA Security + Certification and started looking at Governance, Risk Management and Compliance roles as that section sparked my interest while I was studying.

One night, I was scrolling through LinkedIn on my phone and saw someone had reshared information regarding the apprenticeship where I reached out to Bev. From my first initial interaction with Bev to my first day with Securys took a total of 3 weeks, so the change happened quite quickly since everyone was so fast!

I was drawn to the dynamic nature of the field where constant learning and adaptation is required to stay ahead of the curve. This appealed to my curiosity and desire for ongoing professional growth.

I started my baking career doing something similar to an apprenticeship and it gave me a solid foundation of the industry and skillset – I worked my way up and had a successful career. So for my new career in privacy I knew it would be a no-brainer to do the same thing.

Passing my BCS Data Protection and Practitioner certification! Part of my revision was going through the Specialist Hub’s Learning management system and watching videos from Ralph O’Brien and Scott Sammons as well as going through the LMS at Securys.

Being around supportive people truly is a catalyst to achieve great things.

The amount of knowledgeable people I have access to and learn from. The DPIG community is so welcoming and friendly, I’m never made to feel like I’m asking a stupid question. Everyone I’ve met is willing to share their knowledge as well as the good, the bad and the ugly of their experiences, It’s very inspiring.

I feel valued when my hard work is recognised and appreciated. Whether it’s through a 1-1 with my Line Manager, or feedback on work that I’ve done, I feel like Securys do an excellent job of making me feel seen.

From working in fast-paced environments with strict deadlines where you couldn’t go home unless the work was done has made me have strong time management skills, resilience and an eye for detail. I’m a lover of to-do lists which I’m sure Sara can attest to as I’m always working from one! It’s something I’ve always done and will continue to do as it helps me with my productivity and not losing track of important tasks.

Be kind to yourself – Changing careers is hard, especially when there’s zero relevance. Within the first month I felt overwhelmed as there were copious amounts of new information coming at me from different angles. I found it difficult to concentrate because I was trying to do too much at once. I had to remind myself to breathe and just take each day at a time.

You’re learning and it’s inevitable you’re going to have tough days, but remember to always be kind to yourself and realise how far you’ve come.

Q&A - Sara

Oh, it’s been a series of saying yes to things really. I left school and did not get a degree though that had been the plan. I worked at Orange the mobile phone company, and discovered I liked working and technology. I have looked after service desks, headed up IT for an accountancy firm and worked for two nail brands. In 2017 Securys founder Ben, heard I was contracting and had capacity and he shoved me in the basement of a west end theatre client and said learn the GDPR…and I did. Since then, with the support of our wonderful team we are now a rapidly growing team with people in 3 countries operating globally.

This isn’t my first apprentice rodeo. I’ve been a massive fan of them for years. Privacy is an interesting space right now and I was keen to make sure that Securys was tapping into all possible talent pools. At Securys when we aren’t talking about data protection, we talk about food so the fact that Heather used to be a professional baker I knew we’d have lots to talk about. The integration is easy as we take other people on who have little or no privacy knowledge.  We have a comprehensive and detailed on boarding programme and deliver two hours of internal training every week covering privacy and information security along with soft skills. We are a very supportive (well I like to think so) team and like to discuss and work things out collectively. Heather fitted in immediately and within days felt like she’d always been part of the Securys family. 

She did once bake a delicious cake for our (not so) famous #MondayCakeClub so clearly that was a great contribution. But seriously, Heather has a wonderful energy, laugh and smile that contribute to the culture we have, she’s jumped feet first in supporting her colleagues and two of our largest clients. 

She’s incredibly organised and not shy of hard work. Her inquisitive nature means she’s not afraid to ask questions. She even spotted a wrong answer on a test exam paper issued by our professional body, and they’ve now changed it. Not sure she has developed them, as much as brought them with her. She has certainly embraced the Securys way of doing things.

From my experience, apprentices are either in the very early stages of their careers or a taking leap into a new profession. Therefore, it’s really important to be ready to listen to understand what concerns or worries they may have. Showing that you are listening and can provide practical and tailored advice and give them real life examples. 

I also believe in leading by example and not expecting everyone to work in the same way.  So, it’s really important to get to know people and tailor your approach.

Every day there are instances. We work globally across many different industries so having a diverse workforce means we can provide a better service to our clients. It also makes Securys a great place to work.

Simple DO IT. Heather is amazing and thriving and there are more Heathers out there.

If you are interested in hiring an apprentice, upskilling your team, or wish to begin your Data Protection and Information Governance journey as an individual, you can find out more here, or get in touch at hello@specialistshub.co.uk 


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