Thomas Tschersich


Out of the niche: Why every topic needs a good story

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Are you passionate about your topic, but it's a niche market? Make it big. With convincing stories and persistence. You can learn how it works from us security experts.

According to a study by the International Information System Security Certification Consortium (ISC)2, there is a shortage of more than four million cybersecurity professionals worldwide. People who understand information and data security are in extremely high demand. Things looked very different a good 20 years ago, when I moved into the security field rather by chance. Did anyone congratulate me on my new job back then? Probably not. The reactions ranged from "Do you really want to be the brakeman on duty now?" to "Wouldn't you rather do something productive?" to "Well, at least you can have a quiet life." Not at all. Cybersecurity has long since ceased to be a niche topic and is now the subject of the daily news.

What this means is: We don't block. We enable. We are part of the value chain. We have a lot going for us. Because products and solutions are not fit for the future without our security expertise. Security has long been a top priority at Deutsche Telekom. Fortunately, many other companies are following suit. Of course, we also owe this to the force of the cyberattacks against which companies have to arm themselves. But above all, it's thanks to our own persistence. What our example teaches: 

1. Don't be deterred

What conclusion can you draw from my professional career? Don't be discouraged. Neither by slogans nor by disdain. My team and I believed in the importance of security as an overriding field of action when others still thought that a firewall offered sufficient protection. Of course, it hurts when you are only seen as a cost factor. Or to be used as an excuse for companies not wanting to tackle certain issues. But the change in the importance of security shows that it pays to keep at it. No matter in which area. 

My career tip: Stay persistent. Get back on your feet if you run into a wall with your ideas at the management or specialist departments. 

Dare to be uncomfortable at times: I didn't want to resign myself to being the personified prohibition sign for others. That's why at one point I simply published the alleged "banned list" of security. What did it say? That we don't issue blanket bans. For us, it's about making risks transparent and looking for solutions in consultation with those responsible for the business. Of course, it may be that we come to the joint conclusion that it is better not to do certain things. But we have debunked the argument that security has prohibited this or that with our campaign: It is often just an excuse for not tackling certain tasks. Sometimes it's easy to get rid of prejudices.  

2. Tell good stories

Should security experts or data protection specialists be good at storytelling? Absolutely. 

If you want your topic to break out of its niche, you need to be able to tell a good story. Work on your storyline so others see the importance of your topic. 

Cybersecurity staff at a trade fair stand

With enthusiasm and exciting stories, our security experts represented the topic at CeBIT even in the early years.

Many years ago, internal security experts from Telekom once traveled to Cebit in Hanover. We had nothing more to offer than a screen with green writing. But we also had enthusiasm and exciting stories. We were nerds who could tell our stories in the language of business. Our CEO at the time, René Obermann, thought that was so cool that he stopped by our exhibit with many customers. That gave us a foot in the door with management. And set the stage for our projects to be funded. But it's important that you tell stories and not fairy tales. In the end, it's always about credibility.

You can find out whether my advice will help you right now at Deutsche Telekom. We are urgently looking for new colleagues. There are currently more than 100 vacancies in the Group in the area of cyber security. The range of tasks is wide, for both top experts and newcomers. What's in our favor? Telekom is a leading provider (German) when it comes to security, if only because we cover all security technologies and operate one of the largest and most modern cyber defense centers in Europe with the integrated Cyber Defense and Security Operations Center (SOC). With our products and services, we protect our private customers as well as medium-sized and large companies, and of course our own infrastructure. This means: 

  • There are few companies that offer so many facets: We need pentesters, IT forensic experts or IT security analysts just as much as developers or monitoring specialists. 
  • We live security-by-design. Security specialists are involved in exciting customer projects from the very beginning and are already involved in the development of new products and services. 
  • We offer exciting insights into Telekom's innovation areas and plenty of opportunities for further development. 
  • Security specialists and data protection experts are held in high esteem at our company - both by management and in the specialist departments. 

In this video, you can get to know some of your future colleagues: