Our employees are at our centre – without them, we would not have the business we have today. We have been fortunate to have some truly fantastic people work for Littlefish, and we want you to meet some of them.
We’ll be sharing just some of the great team we have around us, with some interesting journeys into the world of IT, such as Ryan – our Cyber Security Operations Centre Manager – who started out his career as a reserve for Sheffield Wednesday Football Club after being scouted by their youth academy.
With over 18 years of experience working in IT and over 4 years’ experience working in Cyber Security, find out how Ryan went from professional footballer to Cyber Security manager, all at just 38 years of age.
Q: So, firstly what made you end your professional football career?
I started playing football from the age of 9, beginning at Sunday league level at a junior team named Throstles F.C. From there, I started catching the eye of a few football scouts and eventually got picked up by Rotherham United to play for their Academy as a teenager. After spending a couple of years there, I was lucky enough to be spotted by Newcastle United, who wanted me to sign as an academy player. However, after spending a couple of weeks up in Newcastle away from my family, I found that I didn’t feel comfortable; the homesickness at that age was just too much for me.
After turning down Newcastle United, I found myself playing for my local team Sheffield Wednesday that I had supported all my life. I played from Academy level right up to the reserve team on a regular basis, which was a great experience. I got to play with and against some real top class professional footballers too, and a few legends thrown in (such as Gazza!).
At the age of 20, I was released from Sheffield Wednesday as I didn’t manage to break through to the first team. After this, I found myself playing at a semi-professional level for a little while with a brief stint at Ossett Albion. I found that I had lost my passion for the sport, and I started to think about my future and where I wanted to be when I reached my mid-30s, and football was no longer an option.
This was when I decided to pursue an IT career after one of my teammate’s fathers worked at a pretty big IT company and gave me an opportunity to get started in an office environment (which took some getting used to for me!)
But I’m glad I made the choice I did at the time, as everything has worked out nicely for me… So far, at least 😊
Q: What made you change to Cyber Security?
After spending many years in IT in roles such as Problem Management, Service Desk Support, 2nd Line Support and Windows Support Engineer, I found I was at a point where things had become a little ‘flat’ for me, and I wasn’t particularly getting much personal gratification out of my working life.
I was then fortunate enough to be given an opportunity to switch to a Cyber role for a high profile business. This was a big boost and it was refreshing for me to get excited about work again – Cyber was a brand new industry for me, as well as an up and coming area, which many companies and businesses are recognising the need for.
Q: How did you transition between the 2?
There was a bit of a learning curve to Cyber. Still, I found (and I have also seen this from other teammates joining Cyber), having a Service Desk background really helped with adjusting to my first role in Cyber as a SOC analyst. There are similarities between the two, which do provide a solid foundation to work from.
Q: Did you have to take a step back to move forward?
In a way, it was a bit of a step backwards when joining the Cyber route, as I went from being a 2nd line engineer to a first-line SOC analyst. But this is often the case when you want a career change, and I’m glad I took as I have managed to progress through the ranks to find myself in a better position now than I would have ever been if I didn’t make the switch.
Q: What would you say the biggest challenges were when making a huge career change?
Starting in a new industry/role can be very daunting, along with the fact that most people don’t like change. But putting yourself out of your comfort zone and trying new things is the best way to learn and approach life. It’s never as bad as you think it’s going to be, and it’s always better to try and push yourself than live with regrets.
Q: So what has been your biggest achievement to date?
At the risk of sounding cliché, landing the role as SOC manager here at Littlefish has been a massive achievement for me and a step forward. It’s a step up for me from my previous role as Deputy SOC manager, and I have much more responsibility and accountability. This is something I am relishing in, and I’m looking forward to gaining more experience to better myself in the role. I really enjoy leading my team, and they are all a pleasure to work with – I guess you could say I feel lucky in that regard!
Q: And where are you planning to go next?
Who knows… I’m going to keep working hard and see what happens. Cyber within Littlefish is expanding more and more each day, so we will see what happens in the future! I would love to stay part of the company, and let’s just see where we can take things.
Q: Enough about work, tell us a bit about you as a person
I’m 38 Years Old, I currently live in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, and I’m Sheffield born and bred. I have 3 kids; Kayden (11), Logan (9) and Erin (6) and I’m engaged to my lovely fiancé Laura. We share our family home with a black lab named Marvel and a black cat named Mavis.
In my spare time, I’m into fitness and wellbeing, and I regularly do weight/strength training, Running, and I have also trained in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for the last 6 years. I’m also a part-time artist – I have commissioned many pieces of traditional and digital art, with the most popular ones to date being Animal Portraits and Family Pop Art portraits. Basically, I am usually a very busy man, juggling work, kids, fitness, art and Laura 😊
Cyber Security Operations Centre Manager