From the Army to Allianz: Dale's story so far

Dale Shepherd
Dale Shepherd, Information Security Education and Communication Analyst
"Before I joined Allianz as Information Security Education and Communication Analyst, I served 12 years in the British Army as a Military Working Dog Handler. Specialising in counter IED operations, my role initially involved training and handling dogs in a number of deployments across the world. In the later half of my Army career, I moved into the Training team. Here, I was responsible for developing and delivering Phase 2 training for soldiers - essentially, teaching them how to be Dog Handlers. I was also the coordinator and designer of the course, so it was down to me to figure out what to deliver and how to constantly improve the training. From here, I moved into further staff development courses where the process was the same - deliver the training, evaluate it and make improvements for the next course."
"Having been in the Army since I was 18, I felt it was time for me to move on. I thought it would be more beneficial to start a new career in my early 30s than try to do so later in life. I wanted to do something that would interest me and work somewhere that I could put my mindset and skills to good use. Information Security is something we’d often talk about when on deployment; we recognised the threats and risks we were facing daily were moving more and more towards the ‘cyber warfare’ landscape - and I wanted to be part of that."
"I started looking into the cyber-side of things once I’d already given my notice to the Army. Once you decide to leave, there’s a 12 month waiting period - resettlement time - where you have time to retrain, relearn and go on courses. I began an intensive 16 week course with CAPSLOCK which was very innovative. People on the course came from all walks of life. Some were IT based, others were in the industry already and then there was me - someone who had never worked outside of the Army before."

"I started applying for jobs early on, before I’d even finished the course because, at the very least, I was keen to get some interview experience. I applied for the first job that got announced on the CAPSLOCK jobs board - Information Security Education and Communication Analyst at Allianz - and my career mentor agreed it sounded like a great match for me.

As soon as I had my first chat with the Allianz team, I was confident that the job sounded great and that I’d be looked after. I explained my background to them and they were very reassuring in terms of the support and development opportunities on offer at Allianz and how they’d help me transition into the industry. As I moved through the interview phase, people development and the importance of individuals kept coming up. That's something that I firmly believe in so I knew we shared the same ethos. The fact that I was shown I’d be supported and given opportunities to develop and shine, meant a lot to me.

I was offered the job but still had to finish my course. With my ideal job in the bag already, my attention was 100% focused on making sure I got the most out of the course in terms of what I needed to learn for my new role. And that’s what I did until I joined Allianz."

"I wanted to work somewhere I could be proud of. Coming from somewhere as well-known as the British Army, I wanted the next place I worked to be equally as reputable, productive and growing. That’s what caught my eye with Allianz - their commitment to constant progress."

"Allianz has placed a real importance on making me feel included since day one. I was actually in the office for my first two days as the team thought it would be beneficial to meet everyone in person for my induction - which it really was. We went out as a team at lunch and just got to know each other a bit better. They made me feel part of the team right away.

Since then, I’ve been working from home. I’m just trying to absorb as much as I can as quickly as I can - asking lots of questions and adapting. Everyone’s been very understanding that, having been doing something completely different for the last 12 years, it’s all alien to me. I’ve been assisted but I’ve not been spoon-fed - and I know the door is always open if I need anything."

"Communication is a big one. Before, I was working with vast amounts of new people, travelling across the world and selling our products here, there and everywhere. One day I’d be speaking to High Ranking Government Officials in Kazakhstan, the next? An 18 year old who’s straight out of basic training. Communication will play a big role in this role too - being able to liaise with so many different people will be a really valuable skill I can use. The ability to project manage is another one. My previous role was very adaptive and dynamic -  it was down to me to manage my resources and time. At Allianz, my role involves a lot of juggling too, so the ability to prioritise and plan in advance will definitely come in handy."
"A lot of people think they can’t apply for something unless their experience perfectly matches the job description - but my advice would be to go for it anyway. Everyone looking to get into a new job or career always has imposter syndrome - you’ve got to believe in yourself. Just try and you’ll be surprised by how accommodating and supportive Allianz are."
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