//Blogs - 15 Jun 2021

AusCERT2021 Diversity and Inclusion Champion

This year, to mark the occasion of AusCERT’s 20th annual conference anniversary, the team has decided to introduce a new award category – the AusCERT Diversity & Inclusion Champion. 

At AusCERT, we believe that Diversity & Inclusion champions are leaders who take responsibility for instilling a diverse and inclusive workplace culture.

According to the Diversity Council of Australia, the definition of a Diversity & Inclusion champion is someone who plays both a symbolic and an active strategic role. Their symbolic function is to demonstrate leadership support for diversity and inclusion by attending diversity events and delivering diversity messages to stakeholder groups within the company and externally.

They contribute to diversity strategy development and implementation by serving on diversity councils, campaigning for support from their fellow colleagues, and consulting with diversity leaders.

Pip Jenkinson, CEO and Co-Founder of Baidam Solutions is the inaugural winner of this AusCERT award. For those unfamiliar with Pip, his work at Baidam emphasises the importance of partnerships with some of Australia’s largest employers to create job opportunities and funding for cybersecurity certification training. Baidam gives a significant percentage of the company’s profits to providing pathways to employment in the IT sector for Indigenous and First Nations people.

Pip’s and Baidam’s journey is an inspiring story and shows a great example of how organisations can combine profit with social good. It is with great honour that we award Pip with the inaugural AusCERT Diversity & Inclusion Champion award.

Tell us a little about your professional career?

I have had a very diverse career and my pathway to a career in cyber security certainly  wasn’t a straight line.

Growing up on a farm in Bathurst NSW, I have worked in shearing sheds, at building sites; and I have also served in the Army.

I then decided to enrol at university as a mature age student in a Business degree. My first “real” job outside of university was a sales representative for Guinness in Dublin, Ireland and I was fortunate to travel around the United Kingdom, working in some pretty amazing places.

I returned to Australia and stayed within the wine trade, working (and tasting) some of Australia’s best wines and meeting some extraordinary people who were producing wine at an award-winning International standard. These folks were all working really hard to cement the image of Australia as a producer of wine that would rival some of the most famous International brands.

One day, out of the blue I decided to apply for a role in ICT sales, working for a large cyber security vendor. When I was shortlisted for an interview, I was so nervous about meeting my potential line manager because I didn’t know much about the sector but I gave it my best shot.

There were 4 interview rounds in total and there were many other competitive applicants with greater experience than myself, but when I was offered the role, it was life changing for me!

This in turn motivated me to ask for some feedback and I was promptly told that I was hired based on attitude, not aptitude. I was motivated to learn as much as I could and certainly made mistakes along the way – but I was so grateful for the opportunity to improve, to earn a good wage and to alway remember where my start in the cyber security industry came from; and hopefully one day, being able to repay this gesture and opportunity.

Can you tell us more about your work at Baidam?

At a macro level, Baidam Solutions is an Indigenous owned enterprise. Baidam is a supplier of cyber security goods and services to State and Federal governments and ASX-listed corporations. We model our offerings around the ASD “Essential Eight.”

At a micro level, we have created a pretty special business model that directly links a social outcome to a commercial drive. From the profits retained within our supply-chain and it in itself being free from any Government assistance or subsidy, we have been able to support two lifetime University based scholarships for Indigenous students in the STEM fields; as well as numerous industry recognised certifications. The recipients of these scholarships are now working within various SOC teams across Australia.

I am incredibly fortunate to work in a team that all share a single company vision and company mission – “To increase Indingeous diversity and inclusion in the ICT sector by using education as a vehicle to build technical equity in our First Nations cyber security aspirants.”

Congratulations on winning the Diversity and Inclusion Champion award! What does winning this award mean to you?

I was absolutely humbled and quite frankly, speechless to win the award! I received the award on behalf of the whole team at Badaim Solutions. We all know that cyber security is a team sport and there is a great team that stands beside me.

The award was really special, being the first at anything is hard, but also rewarding.

We are the first Supply Nations certified cyber security practice headquartered in Queensland. Therefore, it is our job to help other Indigenous security professionals get a foothold in the industry and it is our job to lead by example,in everything we do.

To be the recipient of the inaugural AusCERT Diversity and Inclusion Champion award is a huge honour and one that must be given the respect that it deserves, to continually uphold the principles of Diversity and Inclusion and be a role model for others to follow.

What recommendations would you give to other organisations looking to provide pathways for employment in the IT sector for Indigenous and First Nations peoples?

Do your research.

Be committed and do it for the RIGHT reasons.

Invest in cultural immersion programs to lift the knowledge of the entire organisation, don’t leave everything to the folks from Human Resources. Obtain advice and understand that there are many cultural events that don’t neatly sit inside within a standard Fair Work Act 2009 employment contract.

Be sensitive and flexible and if you do a good job, the results will speak for itself, you will enjoy a richer, more diverse and inclusive employee talent pool that is more representative of the community that you operate in.

Baidam’s journey is an inspiring story and a great example of how organisations can combine profit with social good. What advice would you have for organisations looking to do this?

Well, this one is very simple. Just do more and do it more often!

We are showing other organisations what is possible when focused on sustainable, social return on investment (SROI) rather than purely ROI. Whether you are looking to support Women’s businesses, Veterans businesses, LGBTIQ+ businesses, Australian Disability Enterprises or a myriad of other social  businesses,find a reason to do business other than the pursuit of profit!

Draw a line in the sand today, not tomorrow and stand for something other than profit, your customers will appreciate it and so will your staff.

Finally, what do you think are the main challenges and opportunities for the cyber security industry in the coming years?

Like my past experience in the wine trade industry, Australia has the opportunity to be recognised as a global leader in the production of cyber security talent as well as sovereign cyber security solution capabilities – truly!

As a community, we need to do more to support the local companies who are helping this flourishing marketplace. So where possible, buy local, support local and invest locally.

I think the Australian Government is doing a good job in supporting this idea, but as with most things, greater work needs to be done. The challenges in our sector are well documented and includes amongst others; a skills shortage and a culture of sourcing projects off-shore.

The final challenge, directly linked to the Indigenous cultures that Baidam represents (one that we all need to overcome!) is a mental one …  We MUST change our thoughts from “Why would I buy through an Indingeous business?” to “Why wouldn’t I buy from an Indigenous business?”

To sum it up for me, I’d like to share this Norman Vincent Peale quote, “Change your thoughts and you can change your world”.