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EY Australia

  • #4 in Accounting & advisory
  • > 100,000 employees

Helen Zheng

My cyber exposure across the last 2 years has been interesting and challenging for my career growth.

What's your job about?

The EY Cyber Security teams have people from a multitude of diverse backgrounds and skillsets, where we assist with major cyber challenges for financial services companies, both locally and internationally.

I joined the team as a vacationer in my penultimate year, then joined as a graduate consultant after graduating from university.

How I would describe cybersecurity, is protecting the most important valuables for an organisation – for financial services organisations, their assets would be customer’s data and their money. My cyber exposure across the last 2 years has been interesting and challenging for my career growth – I have met cyber influencers, both globally and locally, such as a Chief Information Security Officer of an Australian Big 4 Bank and various senior stakeholders to assist and solve their cyber challenges.

Some cyber projects that I’ve enjoyed are data loss scenarios, where we come up with hypothetical, but possible scenarios of data theft by either disgruntled employees or external threat actors. I am particularly enjoying my current project where I’m leading a cybersecurity transformation program for a local entity of a global insurance company. My responsibilities include liaising with senior stakeholders on understanding their requirements and delivering cyber initiatives such as data protection of customer information, cyber awareness training, supplier risk management and user access reviews. This level of responsibility and trust that has been provided by my EY senior team members has enabled me to develop my leadership skills, foster a continuous learning mindset and always stay curious in cybersecurity.

What's your background?

I grew up in Western Sydney to Asian immigrant parents and I am the eldest of two sisters. When deciding on my university degree, there were a plethora of choices and my top two were aviation management and information systems. I wanted to do aviation management because I wanted to work for a global airline, though, I realised that information technology would provide various career path opportunities.

Funnily enough, I gained my first cyber internship with one of the big 4 banks during my first year of university, when I accompanied a friend to a career fair. I ended up speaking with their Head of Graduate Recruitment and she knew that the cyber team would be keen to take on an intern.

Prior to EY, I also did a privacy internship with Australia’s former privacy commissioner, Malcolm Crompton. It was great to see privacy and security converge. I joined EY as an intern and later as a graduate consultant. I have been with EY for 2 years and I am grateful for the opportunities and experience that I’ve gained, and the wonderful local and international people that I’ve met.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Of course! EY cyber teams consist of people from different university backgrounds, not just pure IT or computer science degrees. We have people with degrees in criminology, political sciences and engineering, and some who don’t have a degree at all!

My advice to students applying for graduate roles is that passion and willingness to learn new things is paramount. You won’t get anywhere if you say no. Showing passion and willingness to learn, beyond having a degree, will show that you are ready for challenges and have the dedication to learn new skills – which is important in a fast-paced industry such as cybersecurity.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

Firstly, meeting and working with influential cybersecurity people, both within EY and externally is pretty cool. I also have the flexibility to teach at university and speak at university events. My dad was a former teacher, so educating both students and our clients on cybersecurity is something I might have inherited from him. I am passionate about speaking with students and making them realise a career in cyber could be for them.

I also bear responsibility for organising team bonding events, such as a Hunter Valley trip last December. Good wine, good times!

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

  1. Having a six-month break after graduating from university, was a great idea. I was able to travel and teach at university, so having free time for yourself is the best.  
  2. Everything will fall into place, as it should. I tend to overthink and stress out when I have to make decisions.
  3. Stop eating lollies.