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“As someone with an addiction to learning new things, the rapid growth of technology has always amazed me, and I can’t think of anything more exciting than being part of an industry built around continuous development and education.”
In just two years with Datacom, Shaqueal Harema has gone from intern, to Graduate Analyst, to Associate Engineer in the cybersecurity team.
His passion for learning and IT has proven to be a strength in his professional environment, and he has found another forte: inspiring and supporting the next generation of talent.
The Ngāpuhi and Ngāi Tahu descendent is now on a mission to share his passion for IT with rangatahi who are standing in the same shoes he once stood in, and hopes to show them that a career in tech is both accessible and interesting.
“I am very passionate about sharing my love for tech and supporting other young learners- especially those who are Māori, Pacific Islander, or female - on their journey into IT, and keen to have conversations around what barriers are discouraging them from chasing these careers and how we can tackle these,” says Shaqueal.
He regularly connects back with youth in his Ngāpuhi and Ngāi Tahu iwi, and has recently supported the execution of ‘Rangatahi tech nights,’ a series of events designed to introduce Māori youth to cybersecurity and give them the opportunity to network with likeminded individuals.
“I was inspired to get involved because I know many young Māori can be pushed away from pathways like this, whether this is because they believe it is too difficult, or friends say it's too ‘nerdy’, or they can't figure out how to get their foot in the door,” he says.
“The tech nights were an awesome chance to challenge those limiting mindsets and show rangatahi that not only is it possible for them to work towards and land a role in cybersecurity, but just how fun the space is.”
Shaqueal has kept in touch with several of the attendees, some of whom have embarked on their studies in IT, and is proudly looking forward to supporting them and others on their career journeys.
Shaqueal embarked on his own career in tech with a diploma in cybersecurity from Ara Institute of Technology, a partner of Datacom.
The diploma develops valuable technical and analytical skills in students, covering subjects such as infrastructure, cybersecurity basics, methodology specifics, technologies, technical management, governance, and standards.
It is the first pre-degree level cyber qualification offered in New Zealand, a unique course which Datacom supported the development of through enhancing classroom training with exposure to practical cybersecurity operations.
Datacom’s ongoing partnership with Ara and commitment to creating pathways into tech saw Shaqueal secure an internship in the business in December of 2021.
His internship allowed him to apply practical elements against the theory of his studies as Datacom supported his development through training and mentorship during the comprehensive internship programme.
“I got to see not only how the cyber team works but how all the teams within Datacom operate together. The chance to connect technical issues to real life scenarios during my internship was easily the best preparation for my permanent employment with Datacom,” says Shaqueal.
“As soon as I could see real life applications of certain cybersecurity controls and attacks, everything started to piece together and make sense to me. The internship also offered a safe space to try things and make mistakes – I learnt valuable lessons like when to apply urgency, and the correct steps to take when a matter needs immediate attention.”
After completing the year-long internship programme, Shaqueal stepped into his graduate position as a Cybersecurity Analyst, which he says ‘perfectly complemented’ his love for learning.
“I am continually motivated by problem solving and this role hits those points perfectly – I really enjoyed the dynamic nature of the job and attention to detail required to fulfil the role successfully.”
“From analysing the needs of our clients, to deploying pragmatic solutions, to reacting to new events and attacks, each day offered new and exciting challenges” says Shaqueal.
His recent move into the Associate Cybersecurity Engineer role, which he started in September, is yet another extension of his passion.
“I absolutely love the technical aspects of cyber so the transition to engineering has been an exciting challenge, strengthening my skillset and continually motivating me to learn.”
Shaqueal really values the continued development opportunities he’s been given at Datacom, citing webinars and certifications, training in new tools and the chance to work alongside experts as ‘massive value-adds'.
“I have learnt so much at Datacom about the cyber landscape, modern security practices and how to approach a vast range of potential cybersecurity issues.”
As he continues to make strides in the industry he loves, Shaqueal says he feels confident in his path, both in cybersecurity and mentorship, and that there’s nowhere he would rather be.
To those who are considering entering into the world of tech, his advice is “poipoia te kakano kia puawai – nurture the seed and it will blossom.”
“Get amongst it, find things that interest you, find people who have experience in those areas and before you know it people will be looking to you to build their passion.”