CommBank is proud to be the presenting partner for Vogue Codes 2024, demonstrating a commitment to promoting gender diversity and inclusion in STEM and encouraging more women to consider a career in tech.

This year's theme, Technotopia: Designing the World of Tomorrow, showcases women who are at the forefront of their respective fields, including some of the bank’s incredible female technologists – such as Holly Takos, Cyber Defence Analytics Researcher, who is featured in the July 2024 issue of Vogue Australia. Here is her story. 

An Olympic dream

For Holly, her dream was always to be an Olympic cyclist, after having her sporting talent identified at the age of 14 and competing as a professional cyclist for 10 years, which included attending the Commonwealth Games in 2014 and World Championships in 2017.

"Cycling was my life. I was so focused on representing my country and working towards the goal of making the 2020 Tokyo Olympics team,” said Holly. So when she suffered an injury that forced her retirement in 2019, she was devastated and had to reassess her career goals, feeling she only had skills in cycling. “Overnight, I went from being a professional cyclist to needing to rebuild myself, figure out what my path was and where I could apply my skills next.”

Changing tracks to cyber security

Fortunately, Holly had been encouraged to study while cycling, completing a Bachelor of Criminology, which was led by a love of learning and fascination for the world around her.

“I fell in love with the cyber crime subjects, intrigued by the influence of technology,” she said. “I was given a lot of support during my cycling career, so felt this was a chance to give back to the Australian community.”

Unsure of how to start a career in cyber crime, having not come from a traditional technical degree, Holly was attracted to CommBank’s Technology Graduate Program as it specifically sought people from different backgrounds and ways of thinking. She officially joined the program in 2022 and has since realised that a lot of the skills she developed as a cyclist can be applied to a career in tech.

“As an athlete you develop an analytical mindset by looking at different forms of data, whether that be race plays or training data, and you’re constantly analysing your opponent, trying to find trends to predict their tactics. This is exactly what you do in cyber security – you're protecting your company from threat actors by analysing data for patterns and techniques.”

Other transferable skills Holly developed as an athlete that have been beneficial to her tech career include soft skills such as problem solving, communication, teamwork, resilience, and how to give and receive feedback.  

A supportive environment to develop skills and chase passions

Having transitioned through the CommBank Graduate Program, Holly’s settled into her new career working in cyber defence operations and providing internal strategic intelligence that helps protect the bank, its customers and our people against cyber threats. Holly has found CommBank to be an inclusive and safe space for women to enter technology fields, where she can ask questions and learn.

“I’ve been given so much support and training, and I’ve always been made to feel that my experience is valuable and encouraged to bring it to the table.”

Acknowledging that she didn’t think a career in tech was a possibility growing up, having not had female role models, Holly comments: “I’m very grateful to be surrounded by strong female leaders, including our Chief Security Officer. We all support each other to keep chasing our passion and developing our skills in technology so that we can drive change through our work.”

Holly also appreciates working for an organisation that’s focused on building a brighter future for women in technology, including sponsoring events like Vogue Codes and being heavily involved in the Australian Women's Security Network.

Bringing valuable perspectives and experiences

In the years to come, Holly hopes to see more female representation in technology. “We need people with different experiences and perspectives, because that’s what creates innovation.”

And she encourages everyone to embrace the everyday skills they can bring to a career in tech, stressing it’s never too late to give something a go and change your career path. “Don't think your past experiences aren’t relevant because what I’ve realised is that’s your point of difference – the experience and skills you bring make you stand out. 

“There’s a misconception that you need to be highly technical to have a career in tech and that’s just not true.”

Read the full story in Vogue Australia’s July issue – on sale now.

Find out more about CommBank’s Graduate Program.

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