Dan Marsh and Oliver Kelliher-Swash were recently welcomed to the company after applying for Leonard’s cyber apprenticeship programme online and then conducting virtual interviews over video. Their only physical interaction with the company saw the youngsters collecting their laptops and equipment from Leonardo’s UK Cyber and Security Team in Bristol Business Park. But according to their mentor, senior systems engineer Damindra Gunatillake, the two have not been held back by the lockdown situation and have performed so well that they’ve been assigned live cyber projects.
“Because Dan and Oliver were amongst our first intake to be onboarded remotely, we were initially concerned about what their experience would be like,” said Damindra.
“But within only a few short months their projects outlined the principles of data management and programming so professionally, we knew we could fast track them on to a live internal cost analysis programme. We wouldn’t normally put first year cyber apprentices on such a high profile project, but our trust in their abilities is such that we are already putting them on other projects to monitor customer security.”
With the help of final year cyber apprentice Alex Cameron, the two young Leonardo apprentices have also mastered the fundamentals of virtual computing, which is still in its early stages of development across the UK cyber industry.
“Increasingly in the current climate, virtual computers underpin huge amounts of infrastructure across the world,” Alex explained.
“So instead of having to spend £1,000 on each computer, you can spend the same amount on one computer and have potentially hundreds of computers running off that virtually. What Dan and Oliver have achieved has been absolutely spectacular – the breadth and depth of their knowledge is really impressive.”
Dan who attended John Cabot Academy in Kingswood, Bristol has found there have been benefits to working remotely.
“I live on the opposite side of Bristol so it would normally take me one and a quarter hours each way so it means the time I would have spent on a bus can now be focused on my work, which has only improved my performance,” he said. “I speak with people on a daily basis via our computer chat function and morale amongst my colleagues is really good and people always send me thank you messages if I have helped them so it has been a great experience.”
Oliver, who studied at Bristol Brunel Academy located in Speedwell, Bristol added: “It definitely puts more emphasis on being independent and being able to shape your day so you are productive, but you are also taking care of your own wellbeing. That wellbeing aspect is something we always try to build into our projects too. Although we are working remotely we still feel involved and invited to participate as part of a wider team.”