Course Feedback Justyna L

Learner feedback — ISACA CISA, CISM, CRISC, and ISC2 CISSP

One of our core values at Firebrand is hunger – the passion for getting better and staying ahead of the curve!

One delegate who truly embodies this is Justyna Larkowska, Chief Information Security Officer at The Ardonagh Advisory, one of the world's leading independent brokers.

During the past 10 months, Justyna took several of our most difficult courses and passed all exams the first time! ISC2 CISSP and ISACA CISM, CISA, and CRISC. We caught up with her to chat about this amazing achievement!

“I started out in Cyber Security about 8 years ago. I don’t come from a tech background, so I’ve always wanted to invest in bettering myself.

“I started with ISACA CISM because it was aligned to my day-to-day Security Operations role – I thought it was the right first qualification to take. It was at Wyboston.

“CISM was my first really big exam. I was really nervous, but after a couple of days on the course I knew I would make it. Our tutor explained exactly how the exam is structured and which techniques we needed to pass. We had loads of time to ask questions – the depth of the answers our tutors gave to make sure just one person got it was really outstanding!

“Firebrand courses may not be the cheapest on the market, but having taken a few I understand the reason for it. The style of delivery, the prep that goes into courses is incredible, not comparable to other providers.

“On the CISM course, our group had people from different backgrounds, from managerial only to tech only, so tutors had to explain in both techy and non-techy ways. All our questions were answered, but we had to ask them! I was there to learn, not just to pass the exam, so that was my mindset too – it was really in our hands to ask questions and learn as much as possible.

“This created a safe space for me on every single course I took with Firebrand. I also really liked that the tutors have a sense of humour. The examples they use are not only based on real situations, but, what’s fascinating for me, even the driest subjects are described in interesting ways. Their sharp sense of humour made dry Cyber Security courses great fun, which really suited my needs, especially for CISSP! 

“80% of us took the CISSP exam at the Firebrand Training Centre on the last day. The rest took it a bit later, but all of us passed! The fact that we all passed such a difficult course should be a boost of confidence for Firebrand tutors! Their approach is different – it doesn’t feel like going through a machine and getting the knowledge; it’s not a ‘sausage factory.’ When you’re at Firebrand locations, this doesn’t stop with the tutor: everybody at the training centre is so encouraging, happy to help!

“A special mention to Paul [Templeton, the Wyboston Training Centre Manager]; he always tells me, ‘You’ve got it, don’t overthink it! Just pay attention and you will do it!’

“During my CISM course, I started out full of worry but on day 3 I knew I was going to pass! And I also knew, if somehow I didn’t pass, it would be because I didn’t put enough time into it, not because of Firebrand, because I got everything I needed from Firebrand to be successful on the exam. If I’m going to pass, I know it’s going to be with Firebrand – this is why I did the CRISC, CISA, CISSP. Now I’m signed up for CGEIT!

“I was always in Security Operations because I felt that dealing with Cyber Security incidents was the most exciting stuff. When I started on this journey, I was working as a Project Management Officer on a Cyber Security team. I was in the right place at the right time; I saw an opportunity and, with my persistence, I was very hungry for knowledge! If you can do it, why can’t I?

“I met great Cyber Security professionals who wanted to spend time with me. I started with governance rather than technical courses; I did COBIT 5, ISO 27001. Then I went on a CISSP, years ago – but it was too early for me. I was only three years into Cyber Security and hadn’t had experience in 6 of the 8 domains. When I took it again, work experience projects helped me pass it the most.

“Now I use not only the skills I’ve learned but also the good CISSP and CISM materials I was given. I’ve met many people in my career who just want certifications so they can put them on their CVs; for me, it’s all about learning. I want to be a master of what I know. The certification guarantee is why I’d always wanted to try Firebrand: you can take the course again if you don’t pass the first time. I’d rather do the course again than take the exam again – tell me what I’ve missed, how I can improve.

“Also, I’m still hoping to win the Free Training for Life draw – I’ve entered every single time!”

Good luck with your training, Justyna! You’re absolutely smashing it!