UCL Careers


Alumni Profile: Fanhui Dong

Read up on UCL alum Fanhui's academic journey so far from studying BSc Mathematics with Finance to preparing for PhD study.

An image of UCL student Fanhui.

28 March 2023

Fanhui's Introduction: I completed my BSc in Mathematics with Finance at the University of Liverpool in 2020, where I studied at Xi’an Jiaotong Liverpool University in China from 2016 to 2018. And I completed my MSc in Risk, Disaster, and Resilience at UCL in 2021. During my master's degree, I learned about disasters and developed a strong interest in disaster management, emergency management, and people’s vulnerability. Following my master's degree until now, I joined PwC and KPMG accordingly as a consultant in the cyber security team, where I focus on cyber security risk assessment and resilience in China. From October 2023, I will start my PhD study at the University of Leeds to continue to develop my academic interests in understanding community-based disaster management and ethnic minorities’ social vulnerability in natural-hazard-based disasters.

Fanhui's time at UCL:

  1. What did you study here at UCL?

1a. What did you do outside of your studies (e.g., student societies, volunteering, part-time job, etc)?

 I studied MSc Risk, Disaster, and Resilience in the Institute of Risk, Disaster, and Reduction at UCL from 2020 to 2021.

  1. Did you make use of the services/events UCL Careers offer during your time here? What service/event did you find the most valuable?

I subscribed UCL career weekly newsletter, sometimes I checked some job vacancy information on UCL career website. I remembered when I was search for job during my master study, I also looked through the career website to learn some knowledge about how to prepare CV and job interview, etc.

Fanhui's Career Journey So Far:

  1. What does your career path look like? What motivated you to pursue this line of work? How did you get from UCL to where you are today?

3a. Have you been able to apply any of the skills and knowledge you gained from your degree to your role? If not, how did you go about developing these skills?

3b. What is the biggest lesson you have learned from your career so far?

My master's study developed my academic skills in conducting research. At IRDR, I had various coursework and teamwork opportunities where I developed my presentation and communication skills. My professors, especially my supervisor, gave me lots of suggestions and much help in pursuing a PhD study. Although I had considered a PhD during my master's, I chose to work for a few years after graduation. I would say I feel very grateful for my work experience. As a consultant, I have lots of chances to get to know clients from different industries and understand how they deal with cyber security incidents and conduct emergency operations. Meanwhile, my work experience gives me much time to think about my future career path and makes me more confident and prepared to pursue an academic career path. However, I would say going back to academia after working is not always easy. In the last few months, I prepared my research proposal for my PhD application while I was working, and I even had to take a long holiday to focus on literature reading. Thanks to my professors and supervisors for providing me with reference letters, I finally received my PhD offer.

  1. What does a normal working day look like for you?

I start my day by checking my work emails. Then I'll schedule the client interviews. After the interview, my teammate and I will conduct research about the client’s company and their industry, then conduct a assessment of their cyber security maturity. This assessment is a long process that requires me to review the client’s company management procedures, talk with responsible stakeholders, and conduct research in industry best practices and local regulation every working day for several weeks. After this process, my teammate and I will prepare a research report to provide some suggestions for the client’s incident response plan and provide suggestions on how the company can improve their cyber security capabilities. After I finish my work, I focus on my PhD study. In the last few months, I normally spend my time reading literature about disaster management and revising my PhD application. I think reading as many books as I can is helpful for my upcoming PhD study.

5. What is the most enjoyable part of your work? Equally, what is the most challenging part of your work?

 I like being a consultant because I have many chances to learn about different industries. For example, the data in the retail industry and the pharmaceutical industry is very different. The most challenging part of my current job is that I don’t an IT background. I work in cyber security, but my job mainly focuses on management perspectives such as business continuity and incident management instead of the technical parts. At first, I struggled a bit to understand some technical terms. Luckily, my mentor helps me a lot, and she tells me that developing a new skill takes time. What we can do is be patient and learn it step by step. Right now, I tell my teammates the same as my mentor did.

  1. What are currently the most topical issues that you see happening in your field of work?

From my experience, one of the most topical issues is how SMEs manage their data, especially personal information. Many MNCs have the capability of protecting personal data and can control the risk of data breach incidents from both technical and management perspectives. However, the risk of a data breach incident is relatively high for SMEs because of their inadequate attention to data protection. Meanwhile, they may collect excessive personal information and overuse such information without obtaining consent from the data subjects.

  1. What advice would you give to students and recent graduates who are looking to move into a career in Planning?

You may be curious why there is a chance in my career path, but I would say it is in my plan. Therefore, the first advice I would give is to be open about your career and give yourself a few choices. When I was a student, I was anxious about my future career. Then I realized there was nothing to worry about, and we should believe we can finally find our own career path. The truth is what you are doing, and studying will be useful in some days somewhere. I learned about disaster preparedness and business continuity, and then during my job interview, the interviewer showed strong interest in what I study. Therefore, I would say, "Be open to your future and try different options; you will finally find the most suitable one!"  

The second suggestion I can give is don’t be afraid of a change and do what you want to do right now! I wanted to have some work experience before my PhD and believed it could give me more time to think about whether I would like to do a PhD. Even though this change is in my plan, when I told my family about my decision, they still felt a bit worried about whether I could make it. But please don’t be afraid of a change in your life; once you believe and work hard on it, you will get your best result!

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