How to Find Your Own Path: with Michelle Barry

On the latest episode of the We PoWEr On podcast season, Simone Roche MBE chats to Michelle Barry, who has joined the NPW Power List of 2022 and is the Director of Product and Development at global cyber security expert, NCC Group. Together they discussed the different definitions of success and progress, and offered advice on how to see the path to success as a zig zag, rather than expecting a straight line.

Take the plunge and make the step

For many, having the next steps of your career planned to a detail can provide a feeling of security and reassurance. But as Simone said during the episode, “everyone has a different story and everyone has a different pathway, and you have to try and find your own, you don’t need to copy someone else’s”.  

Michelle reassured listeners that “it’s not always easy, but there are always ways, sometimes it’s not about a straight path that you have to go down, it’s a little bit loopy circles, but you get there in the end”. For Michelle, she found her own way to her definition of success when she saw a job advertised in a completely new sector to her, and decided to take the plunge and apply for the role.

“When I saw the job advert for the role I’m in now, I had some really transferable skills that immediately fitted, and the cyber knowledge that I didn’t have was something that could be taught to me.  

I was incredibly brave and I thought, “actually, I know I can do this. I can bring a different lens to the conversation, let’s see where we can go”. 

Tech & Cyber: What’s not to love?

Having pivoted into her role in the cyber security industry, Michelle Barry has never looked back.  

One of the most fulfilling aspects of the industry for Michelle is coming up with products and solutions that go on to improve people’s lives across the world. “You’re never short of that creative conversation that could be the next big thing and really help millions of people globally” she said.

Throughout her conversation with Simone on the Northern Power Women podcast, Michelle also spoke of the narrow preconceptions of what a career in tech looks like, arguing that “tech can fall into so many disciplines and opportunities, as cyber becomes more prevalent in our lives, everything we do becomes intrinsically linked to tech somehow”.

It is for this reason that Michelle thinks tech is a really exciting place for people to springboard their careers. “Just having incredibly creative conversations and being able to see incredibly complex thought processes being executed into tangible things is really fulfilling. From that perspective I think tech as a career opportunity is all encompassing”, she said.

How to help others find their path

As someone who has found the right path for them in their career, Michelle also does what she can to pass on the lessons and experiences she has gained to others at the start of their working lives. During the episode, Michelle spoke of how her approach to mentoring and supporting others can take different forms and levels of formality. From “Trying to join the dots and facilitate those conversations” to giving “somebody the confidence to go ahead and do something that quite clearly they’re already capable and competent of doing”, Michelle sees the best thing that she can do to support others is to make herself available as a resource of support.

On the more formal end of the scale, Michelle described how she is “super conscious around making sure that we give people the opportunity to career pivot without having to start from scratch. It’s about being really forensic in trying to work out what skills people have that could be so valuable to careers or roles without them feeling like they have to start over again”.

If you want to help young professionals to find their own paths, sign up to our PoWEr UP networking session on Tuesday 26th of April as a mentor.

Or if you’re at the start of your career looking for advice from seasoned professionals about what your next moves should be, sign up to our PoWEr UP networking session on Tuesday 26th of April as a mentee.