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At the start of every training course I deliver, I introduce myself and the detail of the introduction depends on the audience. Under 18s = short, adults = medium and apprentices = longest. Apprentices being 18+ are mainly starting off in life so it is good to tell them how I got here nearly sixteen years later. Luck? Potentially but more always going beyond the call of duty and showing passion. N.B. People in your early career do not go into a job interview like these articles or it may slow you down! Born in the eighties in London, I went to a decent state infant & junior school near my home. Life was good and from an early age I liked to be practical and make or take stuff apart. Typically, I was the youngest in the class which maybe slowed me down a little. Year six ended and it was time to jump into big school, also known as secondary or high school. One funny fact. I was “bribed” as a ten-year-old to go to a non-private secondary school further away. The bribe? A SNES (Super Nintendo Entertainment System) from the extinct Blockbuster store.

From year seven I was never great though polite and not badly behaved. Practical topics or really the practical elements of practical topics was my thing. Cooking, electronics and chemistry I did “well” at and enjoyed them. When I was in year eight or nine, I got a radio amateur license and made electronic kits at home. Computer use was there to, on dial up and messing around with antivirus + software firewalls on the home PC. At home I was a little naughty or really learning/experimenting. Think: bath steamboats, butane gas, lighters, magnesium and powdered citric acid. A computer club existed at school to which I went to.

During an English lesson in year nine or ten the main teacher, Mrs Sloane randomly said “you do not need a degree to get somewhere. A boy re-appeared years later with a Porsche to the school gate to demonstrate this”. The boy is a bit of a show-off though it proves a point of course. This quote has stuck with me for nearly two decades to this date. All hail year ten and eleven, also known as GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education). English, double science, maths, religious studies, history, electronics and Spanish.

End of year eleven comes and grades are received. English: B+D (fail overall), double science: C, maths: C, religious studies: C, history: D or worse, electronics: C and Spanish: D or worse. You can see a pattern the more practical topics I scored higher on, if you call C high! If only the grading method was not an A4 sheet of paper but actual hands on - I would have scored higher, maybe even B’s or A’s. Well, that is the flawed exam-based education system for you. Now I am nearly sixteen now what? The school I was at did not do ICT A-Levels - remember this was not much after 2000.

Your burning question… As a boy in secondary school did I hack the school network? My skills are mainly defensive with good OSINT skills plus some offensive skills and I have good ethics. In those days the internet was slow and Wi-Fi did not exist. I used to create shortcuts to get to parts of the hard drive you were not meant to and get to the internet which was “blocked” by controls on the PC. A friend pinched Crocodile Clips on 3.5” floppies. In a short answer not really.

End of part one.