E35 - James Dyson at Reliance ACSN

Lewis West
James Dyson

By Lewis West & James Dyson

During today’s episode of The Route to Networking podcast, Head of Cyber Security, Lewis West, sat down with James Dyson, the Chief Customer Officer at Reliance ACSN. James delves into the daily challenges he’s currently facing at Reliance and gives his best bit of advice that he thinks everyone coming into the industry should know.

In 1998, James came out of university and stumbled into a Networking position. It was after a year at that job he installed his first Firewall which is what led him into the Cyber Security space. He had the good fortune to have a fantastic mentor.

Fresh out of university with no knowledge of working in the real world with no idea of how to turn theoretical into real work. His mentor helped him with many things but one thing that stands out was his ability to work with all aspects of the business. From sales to technical and translating their various challenges into things, we could actively improve or fix. Communication trumped all!

He stayed in the Network Architect role for 10 years before moving into management. The technical capability coming out of universities and colleges was growing exponentially and having the opportunity to steer some of the raw talent was a privilege.

The biggest change he’s seen in the industry since starting is the way mistakes are handled. Before cloud transformation was a real thing, mistakes were visible to all. It wasn’t uncommon for engineers to have to go and physically plug into a device in a data centre to reboot or restore operation. That walk of shame with a laptop across an open office was a very quick way to instil a ‘check twice, install once’ mentality.

The fear of being hauled in front of the board or management teams when mistakes were made was a very real thing, getting fired for a big outage was not unheard of. Now there’s a bigger tolerance for mistakes and the acceptance that people are fallible, but that means that people don’t always consider the ramifications a mistake can make. Especially now with global footprints and cloud-first, impact assessment before carrying out work is essential.

The key to learning is about people. Nobody goes to work to do a bad job. Nobody comes in with the intention of making someone else’s day worse.

“Go into every situation assuming that someone isn’t trying to trip you up or catch you out, I think that serves you a lot better”.

You don’t know what people are going through behind closed doors so assume good person, bad day!

Now the Chief Customer Officer at Reliance, he walks us through some of the daily challenges he faces in his position. One of them being communication. With more people working from home, we are still working on what a good hybrid model is. Agreeing with the need for a human touch, he says that it is important that communication lines are open. Technology has made it easy to send emails or direct messages, but we’ve lost the nuances of face-to-face meetings, even on camera it’s hard to gauge a reaction to a comment.

Some career advice for people new to this industry or any industry. Don’t be afraid to ask, we all had to start somewhere. The truth is, there are no stupid questions, and he urges people to always ask questions and stay curious. Everyone is winging it to a certain extent, be it the graduate or the C-Suite, we’re all finding our feet on a daily basis. Don’t feel like you’re an imposter, anything you ask is a learning curve.

James tells us his most controversial opinion, make sure you tune in now to find out what it is!