Matthew Evetts’ career in IT started as a side hustle.

As the millennium dawned, he was embarking on a Bachelor of Arts in English and Psychology at Massey University, New Zealand. But, he soon encountered a problem.

“I was your typical poor student,” Matthew remembers, “so I started doing some business on the side to pay for my degree and my living expenses.”

The e-commerce revolution was just getting under way and Matthew spotted an opportunity.

“For a lot of small business owners, websites and the internet were a new thing to them. I learnt about all things online in order to be able to help them."

Avantgate, the company he set up and ran part-time for several years, created websites, domains, and IT systems required to help businesses get online. It spawned a passion for figuring out technology and how to make it easy for people to use.

The systems guy

While spending a year as a student representative on the Massey University Council, Matthew gained the knowledge to help the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) better assist the country’s tertiary institutions.

He joined TEC in 2004 as an analyst and soon found himself as a key subject matter expert for the core systems there which, at that stage, were dispensing about NZ$2.5 billion in funding annually to tertiary education providers.

“I helped them to use technology to improve their own business processes and use data to provide insights for policymaking."

It was a role that set Matthew up well for a lengthy spell spent contracting for a range of public sector agencies, including the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC), the Ministry of Social Development (MSD), and the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

“I realised early on that I was wired to enjoy change. Being a contractor allowed me to tackle lots of interesting projects across the government.

“I’m a problem solver; that’s my natural role. This, combined with my experience in IT and organisational challenges, led me fairly logically into cybersecurity.

After more than a decade spent working with the Optic Security Group, Matthew joined Datacom in November as a director of cybersecurity. He leads Datacom’s efforts to help its clients on both sides of the Tasman Sea navigate the ever-evolving cyber threat landscape.

“It’s no secret that IT security has traditionally been done poorly. To use a classic building analogy, you can’t build a defensive wall and think 'it's built. I’ll go and do something else now.' You’ve got to have archers patrolling the walls and soldiers ready to deploy. If someone really wants to get in, they probably will, and you need to be ready for that too. That mindset is something leaders in organisations are still in the process of adopting.”

Aligned values

New Zealand has seen a recent spate of high-profile data breaches and hacking attacks aimed at key public agencies and businesses. For Matthew, the key to improving security is as much about people as the technology used to secure networks and data.

“Early in my career, security was a blocker to progress. I wanted to ensure that security was baked into the whole process — part of bringing technology to the people — not putting barriers in front of them. There are big implications when you do that well.”

The appeal of working at Datacom, says Matthew, comes down to two things.

“Delivering value to the customer and looking after our own staff. These are really important to me and Datacom."

2021 is about telling Datacom’s compelling cybersecurity story, says Matthew.

“From what we can tell, we have the biggest dedicated cybersecurity team in New Zealand, with nearly 100 incredibly talented people. That doesn’t include people in networking and application security.

“We can help organisations make the changes in cybersecurity they need to. I’m looking to get the message out there about that this year.”

Datacom is hiring for a range of roles. To find out how you can make the most of a career in technology with Datacom, see our latest roles.

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