Left: Kate at the Danish Design Museum with her daughter Louise. Right: Kate and her family at Wallace’s Hut near Falls Creek
“It’s taken a while to get there but I feel like I’m in the right place now,” says Kate Prest, Cyber Security Lead – Awareness in Enterprise Technology, Future Business & Technology.
“My husband has been saying for years I should work in IT communications - annoyingly I’ve had to acknowledge he was right.”
Kate’s career began with a love of maths, a double degree in Arts and Engineering and an engineering job that didn’t hit the spot.
“It wasn’t the right first job for me. I was interested in the safety part of transport engineering and how to get more people to walk and ride safely. Instead, I was writing reports and counting cars,” says Kate.
“I left the company and went back to study a Graduate Diploma of Applied Finance and Investment. My Dad got me interested in shares when I was younger, and he was able to connect me with a job as a dealer’s assistant.
“I worked in stockbroking for a number of years - it was great fun, and a connected and fast paced environment. I then had my two kids, and with my second had issues with my hips which meant I couldn’t sit. In those days in that industry, there was no ‘work/life balance’ or working from home. If you wanted to make something of yourself you had to be in the office five days a week, and that was something I couldn’t do.
Supporting the community
Taking a break from stockbroking, Kate found her way into volunteering.
“I became president of my kids’ kindergarten. It was challenging, I learnt so much about managing people, parents and the other committee members. I was lucky to have a great friend as the Vice President who was really supportive.
“I’ve been a passionate cross-country skier since I was a teen, going up to Falls Creek every year without fail to rent a place in Mount Beauty. I noticed cross country skiing in Australia was not well promoted and there was no way to get new people into the sport.
“I reached out to one of the members of a day lodge we had a membership with, and shared all of my ideas about how we could grow the sport.
“He directed me to the cross country program director at Ski and Snowboard Australia and the next thing I knew, I was setting up websites!”
Kate, along with some other keen people created the AUSXC and discoverxcski websites to promote cross country skiing to the wider community. She also helped promote the Kangaroo Hoppet – Australia’s premier country ski event sponsored by AGL that attracts over 1,000 skiers each year.
“You see doors opening for people because you’ve put the information in easy reach,” says Kate.
Volunteering also gives you the opportunity to try out new industries or roles, as Kate has discovered.
“It’s a great way of giving something a go on a small scale. You also meet people you wouldn’t normally have access to, so there are connections and networking that come from volunteering.”
This experience led Kate to cyber security awareness at AGL.
“My role is to make cyber security concepts easy to understand. It’s not enough to have the cyber security team hidden away, we need to build a cyber security awareness culture in the organisation. Everybody has a part to play in being more resilient to cyber threats and attacks.
“In a funny way, I feel like I’ve come full circle. I was my student rep for a new school uniform, where I helped promote and communicate the change to students - I even organised a fashion parade! Now that’s what I do for a living!”