When Kasvi Luthra was in high school, she loved maths and always knew she wanted a career that would have a positive impact in the world. Then, when she saw the movie Imitation Game about computer scientist Alan Turing who helped crack Nazi code, and read the techno-thriller novel Digital Fortress by Dan Brown about a computer code that threatens national security – she was inspired.
“I saw from reading and watching movies that maths in technology could have a big impact on really significant things like politics and war,” she says.
So Kasvi signed up for a degree in IT at the University of Technology, Sydney. And while she still didn’t know that much about what to expect outside of popular culture, she was pleasantly surprised.
“I thought I would spend a lot of time behind a computer programming,” she says. Instead, the degree was much broader than Kasvi expected. “There’s design work, front-end work, information systems subjects. There are specialisations like networking and security. There were lots of different things for me to try.”
Kasvi was specifically enrolled in a Bachelor of IT Co-operative degree at UTS, which is a paid scholarship program that includes two full-time, six-month work placements during the course of the three-year degree. Her first placement was at a small agency where she worked on user experience (UX) design, which led to a full-time role for a year, and her second placement was at Westpac – which led to her current graduate role there.
“I’d highly recommend that people look at programs where they can get experience during university, and then get roles off the back of that,” Kasvi says. “It makes it a lot less difficult to get a job, and the transition to work is a lot easier because you have that experience as well.”
Kasvi is now in the first six-month rotation of the Westpac graduate program, working in the cybersecurity team. She tells us she can’t go into much detail about what she does because it’s highly sensitive work – which sounds perfect for a fan of techno thrillers and spy movies! However, not everyone who works in cybersecurity is always working on top-secret stuff! Kasvi says that other roles might include writing an organisation’s cybersecurity policy, designing cyber-awareness campaigns and initiatives and working on projects to introduce new tools and technologies to uplift cybersecurity capabilities.
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Just like her degree, Kasvi has found working in technology to be a lot more varied than she’d expected. “Of course there are times when I’m in front of a computer programming and reviewing code, but a lot of what I do is also engagement driven, collaborating with a lot of people across the business.”
Kasvi says of all the IT specialisations she’s dabbled in, cybersecurity is her favourite so far and she can see herself sticking with it for the foreseeable future. “I find it’s really meaningful work, I always know I’m playing a role in protecting the bank’s customers and their information which is a really nice feeling. And there’s always new stuff to learn every day,” she says.
Women in tech
In her role at Westpac, Kasvi is also involved in women in technology committees and groups, so a day in the office might also involve planning events and initiatives to support other women and inspire more girls into this traditionally male-dominated industry.
“Girls can do tech and they can be really great at it, but a lot of the time they just don’t know,” she says. “There are misconceptions and stereotypes around what a career in technology involves, but you realise it’s not like that once you start working in the industry.”
Kasvi says the overall shortage of talent in tech, especially in cybersecurity, combined with the drive to close the gender gap means there are heaps of opportunities for girls interested in a career in the field right now.
“There are a lot of talented girls out there and some big opportunities,” she says. “It’s really nice to be in demand.”
When she’s not working, Kasvi loves playing table tennis and is part of a dance academy. She also loves taking herself on solo adventures – her latest involved hiking in the rainforest and snorkelling on the reef in far north Queensland.
Her advice to anyone considering a career in tech? “Give everything a go before you decide it’s not for you – just try it out first,” she says. “And take advantage of every opportunity!”
This article was brought to you in partnership with the Australian Computing Academy
Author: Gemma Chilton
Gemma has a degree in journalism from the University of Technology, Sydney and spent a semester studying environmental journalism in Denmark. She has been writing about science and engineering for over a decade.