Jennifer Olivia (Olivia) Uhrle

Jennifer Olivia (Olivia) Uhrle

Associate Security Consultant, Bastion Security Services
Master of Business in Information Systems
Bachelor of Business in Information Systems
Certificate in Business

For Jennifer Olivia (Olivia) Uhrle, finding her path towards the technology career she has today was a bit of journey.

“I was about five when my mum completed a Bachelor of Education at AUT, and I remember wanting to be like my mum. I aspired to be a teacher just like she was. In Year 8, my dad unknowingly introduced me to cybersecurity. I learned how to protect his emails from scammers and very rapidly understood about the dangers of the internet. However, my passions were still far too broad to tie myself down to a technology career.

“In Year 10, I took up Business Studies. This had everything I was passionate about: numbers, creativity, entrepreneurship, economics and the ‘politics’ of running a business. From then on, I took Business Studies every year. In my final year at school, I was also part of a YES group, called Koko Krew, and we introduced a healthy snack alternative for Polynesians, combining our love for chocolate and tropical fruits. We sold out at almost every market and won several awards.”

With such a clear passion for business, Olivia soon found herself heading to AUT where she would then discover her passion for information systems.

“A business degree at AUT wasn’t just by choice, but by feeling. I had known where I wanted to go from a young age, after watching my mum graduate from AUT. My values of diversity and inclusion aligned with AUT’s passion for driving such initiatives and, after watching my mum walk across a supportive stage where minorities were appreciated, I knew that AUT was for me. It was a plus that my love for technology was included in the business degree at AUT as well.”

Finding a passion for cybersecurity
After initially enrolling in a Certificate in Business, Olivia  went on to also complete a Bachelor of Business and eventually a master’s degree, supported by an AUT Postgraduate Research Scholarship.

“My Bachelor of Business opened up several creative outlets for me. I was an entrepreneur in my marketing class and then an ‘ethical hacker’ in my cybersecurity class. I had wanted a degree that did it all, and that was this degree.

“As my undergraduate journey ended, I had to sit back and think about which subjects intrigued me the most. Although I eventually want to seek an entrepreneurial opportunity, my love for tech stood out the most. I took a single cybersecurity course with Associate Professor Harminder Singh. That class reminded me of my passion for ethical hacking and cybersecurity, and inspired me to take up a career in cybersecurity. His eagerness to teach cybersecurity and his approach made the class fun and exciting, and I couldn’t be any more grateful to have been taught by such an incredible lecturer.”

But this wasn’t the only highlight of her time at AUT.

“Other highpoints at AUT included studying with my now fiancé and making a great lifelong friend who is still someone I lean on in this industry. My other highlight was the opportunity to intern for Melanie Barr and Nirisha Niranjan in AUT’s Faculty of Business, Economics and Law while I was still a student. They allowed me to become fully creative and take ownership of my career despite it not having kicked off yet. Their advice also helped me land my first role as a cybersecurity consultant with EY that same year.”

A rewarding security career
Now working at Bastion Security Services, Olivia enjoys having a career in security.

“Cybersecurity is constantly being improved, and the industry standards and regulations frequently change. This means that I need to keep up with these changes, and I enjoy this learning aspect of my job.”

While she is still in the early stage of her career, she has already had a few achievements she is particularly proud of.

“I’ve enjoyed being able to contribute to improving diversity and inclusion in the tech space over the last few years. Some of the things I’m especially proud of include winning a ‘Highly Commended’ award at the New Zealand Women in Security Awards 2023, as well as being nominated in several other categories. I also enjoyed mentoring some University of Auckland students as an ally to the LGBTQ+ community seeking a tech career, and loved being a YES judge to support South Auckland entrepreneurs.”