Blog post -
MySwitch2Cyber: from the Army to Team lead Service Delivery Management Team
In this instalment of our MySwitch2Cyber blog series, our talent attraction team sat down with Rob Schrouff from our Service Delivery Management team in Delft to hear about his journey from being a private in the Dutch Military to Ethical Hacking and now being a Team lead of the Service Delivery Management Team.
My name is Rob, and I am the team lead of the Service Delivery Management Team in Delft.
My “switch to cyber” was from the Army. I started my career in the military, as a private, “playing in the woods,” which grew into an intelligence career. I went from a small cell to a large intelligence cell of 3 thousand operational people. In the army there are different levels of granularity in intelligence. I started at the bottom (very operational intelligence) and ended in at brigade level where I provided products for the whole brigade (which contained around 3000 people) - which is a team effort of course and a more high over/strategic intelligence.
I had the opportunity to complete a few courses there including Osint (Open-Source Intelligence) analysis, and I was extremely interested in learning more about this and in all honesty I feel I bluffed my way in there (he laughs).
Honestly, it was only meant for technical people, with knowledge about system admin and IT. I knew truly little about coding, some Java, but my knowledge was basic. Still, I’ve found it very interesting, so I got into the course and started learning about ethical hacking. Again, as I had no background to start with, I found it extremely hard. I studied until very late in the evening, sometimes until 3 in the morning, going on YouTube, learning how to do “cross-sites” hacking. But eventually it all paid off because I passed the course.
Simultaneously I also did a course of Business Administration and got my bachelor's degree. In the army you need to do one kind of a job for 3 years (and that 3 times), to be able to choose which field of expertise you want to really go into. That sounded too long for me, so I made the choice to look for a job somewhere else. Fox-IT had a job opening for Osint Analyst,and based on my new qualification and experience I decided to apply.
Had two genuinely nice, super warm interviews, talked at length about what opportunities Fox-IT can give me, we checked if I’m the right match for the teams. I got the offer quite fast, but then the first period was difficult, to say the least. I was more used to at networking with people and better at human intelligence, than the heavily technical work, that they were hiring me for. The learning curve was steep, the first two months I’ve been running around with notebooks, writing up literally everything. After those two months I’ve told my boss, that we probably have a mismatch, and that I can’t do this type of work.
Not because I could not learn it, but because it’s just not that interesting for me. My manager told me to spend some time speaking to others in the company, about what they are doing, and find something, where I feel I can add value and would like to learn more about it. I knew I wanted to stay within Fox-IT and they gave me time to explore other career paths. Just what I needed.
It was wonderful, the connection with the people working here. I find it amazing, how Fox-IT promotes internal mobility and advancement. I sat down to talk to a lot of people, basically interviewed them about what they did until I found a team that had a vacancy that I felt I could be a great fit for
So, I started working as a Security Consultant – working closely with Sales, making sure that we can deliver what they sell. I spoke with customers – who were satisfied and understood why, tweaking products and services based on their feedback. This type of work talked to me much more, and eventually got good at it. Then after 2 years our manager left (for the products team, inside Fox), and the team lead position of “Manager Technical Security Consultants” role was open. The Directors chose me to fill the role, which was a pleasant surprise.
I started the job in June 2021, and in November that year the SDM (service delivery managers) team also needed a new team lead (theirs fell ill, unfortunately). I took over there as “interim manager”. Little did I know that the interim solution will work out so well, that I’m still there, and now I’m also officially staying at SDM as we are implementing the new SDM plan right now.
The moral of the story is: don’t be afraid to speak up. If you are not at your position right now, then find your position. It might be a challenge – learning curves can be quite steep. But don’t sit still, go for it. Fox-IT can offer you that.
For the future, well, no-one knows but the path that I went with, with the SDM team – to create a more efficient way of working, creating processes, efficiency are just things I love to do. I also love the strategic, long-term planning and questions: where are we going as a company, what Fox-IT can do and does for society, where do we go from here? These are all interesting questions for us to explore in the future.
This blog is the 8th of our new series of career blogs ‘MySwitch2Cyber’, in which we will be sharing the inspiring stories of our colleagues who joined NCC Group at the start of their cyber security journey from diverse and non-traditional career backgrounds.