Meet the Alphas: Manoeuvring into Cybersecurity as a Mature Mid-Career Professional
At Red Alpha, you can find trainees from all walks of life – majoring in various study disciplines and backgrounds. We are proud to feature Lam Koon Mun, a mid-careerist who made the switch from network infrastructure to cybersecurity through our Alpha Specialist Training Programme (ASTP). Read on how Koon Mun found the opportunity, at the intersection of purpose and passion, to propel his career in cybersecurity with Red Alpha.
What were you doing before joining Red Alpha?
"Before making the switch to cybersecurity, I was in the network infrastructure industry. In fact, I bring with me a pretty rich history of more than 10 years of industry experience! Initially, I started out doing digital telecommunications in the navy, where I signed on full-time and worked with the navy for around 6 years. After that, I joined a local network company as a pre-sales network engineer, where I had the opportunity to interact with end-users and conduct training sessions on how to navigate our products.
I continued my career as a network engineer in The Body Shop, where I handled networking, systems, backend infrastructure and integrations. After which, I joined a law firm as a network engineer and led 3 colleagues as a Team Leader. My final stop in the network infrastructure industry was in The Banyan Tree, where I handled a similar scope on a managerial level."
What prompted you to break into the cybersecurity industry from network infrastructure?
"My interest in cybersecurity piqued about three years ago, when I worked in The Banyan Tree. Back then, the company wanted to perform audits on their network infrastructure, but our department lacked the cybersecurity expertise to do so. From there, I started to grow an interest in the field and began reading up more about it during my free time. This further fuelled my interest and led me to gradually divert towards the cybersecurity field."
Given that you were in the network infrastructure industry for more than a decade, what motivated you to make the career switch despite having little experience in cybersecurity?
"In my opinion, there will always be a learning curve when you start learning something new. So, I was not really bothered by the steep learning curve when starting out in cybersecurity.
More importantly, I was deeply interested and enthusiastic about the prospect of stepping into the field, especially after my retrenchment from The Banyan Tree. I struggled to find a job to transition into due to the required prerequisite of cybersecurity skills and certifications. To me then, it seemed like the right time to expand my skill set. Of course! I signed up for various self-directed and paced courses so as to learn the fundamentals of cybersecurity and close up the learning gap. After gaining a deeper understanding of what the profession entails, I decided to switch my career path to cybersecurity."
What made you choose Alpha Specialist Training Programme (ASTP) over other training courses?
"Back when I was doing extensive research on cybersecurity training courses offered in Singapore, I found that other training courses seemed to rush through the syllabus without allowing their students to really specialise in a particular area. On the other hand, Red Alpha’s ASTP offered a structured curriculum that transitions us straight into industry placement. With its thorough and in-depth training, I am also able to deep-dive into a specific area of practice in cybersecurity – which complements me as a mature professional. All the previous learning courses I have taken are very brief and "touch-and-go". Compared to others, I felt that ASTP allows me to further advance in the cybersecurity skills required as a practitioner. I decided to give ASTP a shot and I am really happy to have made this decision!"
As someone who leaped into cybersecurity from a mature role, what is one piece of advice you would give to those who wish to make a career switch but are hesitant to do so?
"Follow your heart! If you are interested in learning something new, you need to make that hard decision to move out of your comfort zone. If you want to learn and stay ahead with the cyber industry, make the step to move! Most importantly, if you want to be an expert in this area, you need to join a programme that provides that hands-on space to carve out your niche. And Red Alpha has that!"
We are glad to have journeyed with Koon Mun in his maneuver into the cybersecurity industry! As of writing, we share in his anticipation for his industry placement as a Section Head (Cyber Test and Evaluation) at Cyber Defence Group (CDG) in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). We are thrilled to see his new adventure take off from there!
At Red Alpha, we welcome mid-careerists to apply for our Alpha Specialist Training Programme (ASTP), where we equip our trainees with in-demand cybersecurity skills to ease their transition into the workforce.