Feature

Abdullah

Last Updated: 16 Nov 2016
A 60-second interview.

Abdullah is from Gujarati-Indian heritage. He joined GCHQ nine years ago straight from university and has forged a career as a cyber security expert. Unfortunately for him, this means he's been labelled 'Mr Fix-It' by his family who come calling every time they have an IT problem! 

 

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Composite image showing a male face
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How did you get into cyber?

My background is in software engineering. I joined the cyber security area of GCHQ before cyber was really a thing! I've pretty much been in the same area for the whole time, although my role has changed. Back when I joined the whole area comprised of a small team of people. Now there are hundreds and we're still growing as cyber security becomes a core part of what GCHQ does.

What was the biggest surprise when you started? 

How relaxed everyone was. People are judged on their ability and not on their position or background. 

Best thing about working here? 

Flexible working means I can roll in at 11 in the morning and no one bats an eye lid. It's great. I have a young family so it's fantastic being with them in the morning and to get back in time for dinner and put them to bed. 

How much do your family and friends know about what you do? 

They know I work with computers at GCHQ, but not much more than that. I get called when anything "technical" needs fixing from routers to setting up new computers. I think they're really proud that I work at GCHQ, they know it's not an ordinary job.

Why did you agree to be interviewed by the BBC? What motivated you? 

I felt it was important to present my side of the story as a BAME member of GCHQ that has thrived in the workplace. The interview focussed heavily on my faith, and I felt it was really important to show that the work we do here isn't about spying on our communities but about protecting the nation.

Biggest misconception about GCHQ?  

There's lots of myths out there. My favourite is some people think the visible bit of the doughnut is just for show and the real work takes place in huge underground bunker!

Best thing about living in Gloucestershire?

Always feels warmer here!