We take great pride in sharing amazing stories of kababayans who changed careers. These include the story of a successful corporate accountant to being an award winning photographer; a frontliner nurse to follow her culinary passion, a financial planner to promoting Filipino cuisine through his food business, cabin crew couple and a sociologist of many years also pursuing their culinary passion. The list goes on.
It is now our privilege to share through our Q&A interview the journey of Joy Marzonia (31 yo) from being a corporate nurse in the Philippines, then moved to other roles and finally to be in an unusual career of being a cybersecurity professional based in Melbourne. She happily shares the highs and lows of her journey, to share the message that it is always possible to embark on a change of career that fits with your passion and balance better with the family's happy living.
*Please share a bit of background information about you.
Back in the Philippines, I used to work as a corporate nurse with plans to get into medicine eventually. My parents are from Antipolo City and I’m the youngest daughter. I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing back in 2010 at Universidad De Manila and also completed my first semester in Master of Science of Nursing at St. Paul University-Manila. My parents couldn’t afford my education so I applied for scholarships. I’m proud that I was able to maintain my standing as a CHED (Commission on Higher Education) National scholar, Rizal Congressional scholar and Antipolo City scholar during my undergrad years.
My career background is not traditional. Some people would say that I’m a notorious job hopper but I’d say otherwise. In my entire career, I have worked in the field of banking, customer/ technical support services, engineering and construction and lastly where I found my passion, Cybersecurity. I’ve had an unusual career path and I would like to show others that it is always possible to change careers.
In 2019, my husband and I including our son moved to Australia to start the new chapter of our lives. We used to work in Singapore and decided to either apply to Canada, New Zealand or Australia to live permanently. My husband worked as a civil engineer in Singapore and applied for the permanent residency visa. To be able to afford the cost of visa application process, we saved every penny that we could. I remember back then I always cried every night. I missed our son so much and would like to be reunited with him. After a month of waiting, God answered our prayers and received our PR visa.
My husband, Vyktor Marzonia, (30 yo) is also recognised as a professional civil engineer by Engineer’s Australia (EA). He’s currently working as a civil structural draftsperson here in Australia. Our 10 year old son Kaleb, wants to be a programmer that builds game or an ethical hacker someday.
*How did you choose Australia to be your second home and what would you consider to be your achievements or best part of having migrated to Australia?
(Joy, son Kaleb and husband Vyktor at NAIA on their first trip to Melbourne as a family).
We chose Australia because of our friends’ personal experiences. We find Australia very welcoming, multicultural, friendly and genuinely nice people, breathtaking sceneries and amazing culture overall. It was love at first sight when we visited Melbourne and we decided to stay permanently. We are proud to be Melbournians and this is “home” for us.
I would say my biggest achievement so far was the moment that I was able to reinvent my healthcare career to a tech career. I didn’t have a formal IT background to begin with but hard work, consistency and passion helped me achieve my goal.
*On the flip side, what challenges did you face and overcome?
Starting a new life in a different country without your closest family is not a walk in the park. There’s a lot of struggles here and there. Greatly helped us that we already lived in Singapore before moving here.
One of the common example that Filipinos/ immigrants experienced is the tough competition landing the first job. Usually employers in Australia look for “local experiences.” If you’re a newly arrived immigrant it might be difficult at first.
*If there is something you can change of what you have done or experience in the past, what would they be?
One thing I would change about my past is how much people pleaser I was. I pursued my nursing course because I didn’t want to disappoint my parents and relatives.
I should have taken up courses related to IT or Biology. I was so passionate about it and was inspired by my favourite high school teacher.
I have grown to realise that I don’t want to live this way forever and would like to live in true freedom. I changed for the better.
*What advice can you give those who may be experiencing difficulties in settling in their new home /country?
Success is sweeter if you have experienced failures. Be prepared for setbacks and always prepare for plan B. Don’t isolate yourself, talk to the locals, form friendship with your neighbours and join Filipino communities within your area.
Always remember that you’re not alone experiencing these things and there will always be support available in the Australian community.
What studies and preparation did you have to undertake to move to cybersecurity?
I have a background in programming and website development. This is one of the skills that I believe helped me landed my role as someone working in the Security Operations Centre (SOC). In 2019, I have completed a Cybersecurity course at Melbourne Polytechnic. This course is like a Tesda course in the Philippines. This is government accredited and with national recognition to address the shortage in the cybersecurity sector in Australia.
Lastly, we have an amazing organisation here in Australia where women or anyone interested could join. “Australian Women In Cybersecurity Network(AWSN)” offers support and cadet programs to all women across Australia. I have joined them as a cadet and a tech team member.
* What do you enjoy most in your role in cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity is a dynamic field and has real impacts in our present society. I'm extremely interested in Cybersecurity because it gives me the opportunity to be who I am and a better version of myself. I love to investigate things, learn new technologies, solve hacking challenges and work in a diverse team.
Cybersecurity offers a rewarding career and this field is increasing exponentially. There is room for good career progression, job security and there are multiple roles available in the market.
I love my job because this means for me to protect people from harm, help them and spread cyber security awareness. This is somehow related to the nursing-medical field where you help people.
Lastly, I like to encourage and empower more women to join the Cyberspace.
* On the flip side, what are the difficult aspects of that role?
Probably the most challenging aspect of being a cybersecurity professional is that this field is always changing. People working in the security operations Centre must continually learn and stay ahead of the cybersecurity scene.
You need to keep yourself up to date to the latest security threats/attacks and train for emerging technologies.
Cybersecurity is the combination of different IT fields (network security, programming, application and website security, etc) so we are faced with steep learning curve.
* What else do you wish to achieve in your career in cybersecurity?
Looking forward to be part of the offensive/ ethical hacking team in the future. I would also love to learn more about blockchain and blockchain security.
*What is your definition of success?
Success is subjective and has different meanings to different people.
Mine would be as simple as living the life I imagined and the ability to direct my own life.
The Australian Filipina wishes Joy Marzonia, our cybersecurity sleuth and family continued blessings and joy (pun intended) in life.