Tea & Chat sessions highlight real-life sharing with cybersecurity leaders

Face-to-face sharing sessions surely enhance a better understanding of career options, future trends & demand, and work-life balance
The School of Technology (SoT), which hosts the Cybersecurity specialism course at Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation (APU), organised a Tea & Chat session to answer cybersecurity students’ curiosity while providing exposure, the latest trends, and sharing real-life examples of what it is like to work in the cybersecurity field.

Taking place at the Senate Meeting Room at the state-of-the-art APU campus on 12 January 2023, the session began with an opening speech by Senior Head of SoT Assoc. Prof. Dr. Thang Ka Fei.

Dr. Thang welcomed Ms Dawn-Marie Hutchinson (Group Chief Information Security Officer), Mr Stuart Seymour (Head of Global Cyber Defence & Security Ops), and Ms Stephanie Liew (Regional Chief Information Security Officer Asia) to APU in his welcoming address.

Ms Nik Nurul Ain Nik Suki and Mr Ts. Umapathy Eaganathan moderated the session and continued with the introduction of the three special guesses, who have an average of nearly 25 years of experience in cybersecurity.

Senior Lecturer Dr. Julia Juremi, Industry Liaison Head Technology Ts. Dr. Vinesha Selvarajah and Cyber Governance Manager Ms Aruntethy Bai Ganasan was also present. Ts. Dr. Vinesha and Ms Aruntethy co-organized this session.

From left: Mr Ts. Umapathy Eaganathan, Mr Stuart Seymour, Ms Dawn-Marie Hutchinson, Ms Stephanie Liew and Assoc. Prof. Dr. Thang Ka Fei.
The session then moved on to the highly anticipated Q&A session, which was divided into three main topics: carrier advice, future trends & demand, and work-life balance.

Among the important inputs delivered by Dawn touched on tech factors, commercial activity, creating digital products and involve with cybersecurity conferences.

“As a future cybersecurity expert, you must focus on the technological aspects of commercial activities such as conducting sensible commercial business, developing digital products, and developing general programmes, because cybersecurity will be present in all aspects of future technology,” she said.

Simultaneously, she urged students to attend cybersecurity conferences because “It is a good way to market yourself and that is how you get seen.”

A career as a cybersecurity expert, according to Stuart, is the most exciting and bright carrier, as well as exciting because it involves change, involvement and moving so fast.

Face-to-face sharing sessions help future cybersecurity experts gain a better understanding of what their learning and opportunity await them.
“It does not matter which technology you use because later, you have to use new technology. There will be another new obstacle, cybercrime will increase and there is always a need for cyber security so that the future is bright and exciting.

“Because there is a massive talent shortage in cybersecurity, seize this opportunity with both hands by self-learning, taking hacking courses, and understanding business and risk, and it will advance your career,” he said.

Stephanie added that as an APU alumnus, she believes APU is a great place for students to get an education and be successful in their future careers because the day students enrol in cybersecurity courses, they are one step closer to becoming cybersecurity experts.

She advised students to focus on their ability to learn, fail, and learn again, as well as to be comfortable with change and consistent in creating and uploading their taught-on LinkedIn, as most hiring companies will look at their LinkedIn account first.

“The first step is to decide where you want to go after you finish your studies, identify your focus, and plan your next steps. The second step is to figure out how I'm going to get there or what requirements I need to meet.

From left: Ms Nik Nurul Ain Nik Suki, Mr Stuart Seymour, Ms Dawn-Marie Hutchinson, Ms Stephanie Liew, Ts. Dr. Vinesha Selvarajah, Ms Aruntethy Ganesan, Dr. Julia Juremi and Assoc. Prof. Dr. Thang Ka Fei.
“Volunteering is another excellent way to gain experience, and the third step, mentorship, is critical for seeing ourselves because there is always an opportunity that we are unaware of. Attend conferences, use LinkedIn, and be creative,” she said.

Osama Ramzi Fathi Ramadan, one of the participants, stated that the speaker’s journey to their position provided him with insight into how to achieve his goal of becoming a cybersecurity expert one day.

“It was absolutely amazing taking the chance to sit and talk with the top people in the industry. APU provided me with fundamentals and paths to pursue. But the rest is up to me to discover and learn. This session helped me create a better career roadmap,” he said.

Summetha Parimalam expressed gratitude for the opportunity to meet the BAT’s special guesses, and she now has a better understanding of cybersecurity career opportunities as a result of her interactions with them.

“The session was not so formal which allowed me to ask questions comfortably and it helped me to understand what my field of study is all about and what I can expect as a fresh graduate.

“I believe that success begins with curiosity. So, I will constantly be curious about how other companies collaborate to learn more about them,” she said.

Cerwin Lee Jia Yiing added that the field she plans to enter will be difficult due to its sophistication, but the advice she received from BAT's cybersecurity experts will be extremely beneficial to her future career.

“It is always important to learn new things related to my field and as well share the knowledge with others and hope that one day I am going to secure a job within my field of study,” she said.

The majority of participants believe that success starts with curiosity and a desire to work in their field of study before progressing to become cybersecurity experts.