Conor Champion, University of Exeter / IBM

Class of 2020

Congratulations to Conor Champion on making the Tech Industry Gold Class of 2020! Conor combined work and studies on a Tech Industry Gold Degree Apprenticeship with the University of Exeter and IBM. Find out more about Conor’s journey. 

Name: Conor Champion
University: University of Exeter
Degree Apprenticeship Title: BSc Digital & Technology Solutions, Cyber-Security Specialism
Classification: First Class Honours
Title of Dissertation: Proactive Security: Business Email Compromise Incident Response Simulation
Employer: IBM
Job Title: [Cyber] Threat Management Technical Specialist

Firstly – how are you and how have you been managing during the lockdown?
I’m very well thank you, thrilled to have completed the Degree Apprenticeship programme and coped okay during the lockdown. It was challenging as my job’s workload actually increased and the mental impact of being locked-in was difficult, especially initially, to deal with (as with all of us, I’m sure).

What was the best experience of your Tech Industry Gold accredited degree apprenticeship?
Experiencing multiple job roles and advancing throughout the business over 4 years, being supported in both the knowledge and practical skills I could offer through the University Programme.

What was the most challenging experience of your Tech Industry Gold accredited degree apprenticeship?
Balancing the workload, particularly at the end of each academic year (Feb-June, to include final coursework and exam revision). Over the 4 years, there were multiple occasions where increased expectations from the business caused difficulties with keeping up with the University learning. I was always very well-supported by IBM however, and looking back, really value the entire experience as it’s allowed me to achieve a lot in a relatively short period of time.

What would you say now, to yourself, before you enrolled on your degree apprenticeship?
Be prepared to work very hard, but know that every effort made will be absolutely worth it – I cannot emphasise enough how much I’ve enjoyed my Degree Apprenticeship. I’ve worked on some amazing projects with great people and enjoyed learning and specialising in a field of technology.  I am also very passionate about academia. 

What would you say to anyone considering a Tech Industry Gold accredited degree apprenticeship?
To me, it’s a pathway that clearly delivers huge value for the individual’s education and their future career. Not to mention the obvious benefits of free tuition as well as 3+ years of work experience while you’re earning!

What are your career plans?
I want to continue to take on new responsibilities within cyber-security. I find it really rewarding to be part of a growing and ever-changing industry that really matters to nearly everyone. 

Who inspires you?
Bob Dylan – Never commit to a single definition of who or what you are; life is long, and there’s no long-term plan worth sticking to.

Anything else to add?
This is a fantastic scheme – all my gratitude to IBM and The University of Exeter for taking me on!

Find out more about Tech Industry Gold Degree Apprenticeships

Back to the Class of 2020