Graduation 2021: Harriet Farlow

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UNSW Canberra 2021 graduate Harriet Farlow was working at a tech start-up in New York when she began her Master of Cyber Security, Strategy and Diplomacy.

But she knew she didn’t need to look further than her home town, when she chose to further her studies.  

“I decided to study this degree because of the course content, and the online delivery mode,” Harriet said.

“When I applied for the degree at the end of 2019, I was living in New York and working at a tech start-up – but having grown up in Canberra I knew UNSW’s good reputation! This meant the online delivery mode was ideal.

“The start-up I worked at was small, but was engaged by a number of US Fortune 500 companies as advisors, where their traditional business models were being disrupted by new technologies. This meant we talked to executives about machine learning, AI, blockchain, and cyber security.”

With a background in STEM, having previously studied physics and biological anthropology, Harriet loved this foray into cyber security, so much so that she decided to pursue a postgraduate degree. She found that the degree helped to supplement her industry experience.

“When COVID-19 hit, the start-up was hit hard. As the borders started closing, I decided to come back to Australia. I ended up moving back to Canberra and now work for Defence, in a cyber security-related role,” Harriet said.

The flexibility and interactivity of the online delivery mode Harriet selected fit in well with her busy lifestyle.

"While most of the degree was online, UNSW Canberra did a good job of trying to enable interactivity,” Harriet said.

“In my final semester I did a research project, and this was a great opportunity to come on campus to meet with my supervisor and other academics. It was a great opportunity to reach out to experts around Australia and the world. The majority of the time I was studying the degree I did not live in Canberra, and so it fit in well around work, family, travel and being on a different time zone.”

“The research project was very valuable. It taught me a lot about the research process and enabled me to deep dive in an area I was interested in - the decryption debate. I met many generous people who were willing to share their insights, and developed a greater understanding of the broader strategic, applied and academic debates around my topic.”

So, where will Harriet go next?

“I really enjoyed the course and learnt a lot from it. I’m currently in the process of applying for the Professional Doctorate in Cyber Security through UNSW Canberra and intend to stay in the field,” she said.

Harriet also has some advice for future students of this course:

“I know that a lot of people who complete this degree also come from APS/Defence, and I would say that the opportunity to discuss what you learn in class with your colleagues is invaluable,” she said.  

“There were so many times I was introduced to a topic or argument in class that I would then raise among my professional network – and could combine the theory and legal aspect from lectures, with the experience of people who have opinions of its implementation, or actually wrote the policy!”

Well done, and congratulations Harriet!

Interested in studying a Master of Cyber Security, Strategy and Diplomacy? Learn more about the program.

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