Meet the Alphas: Mother of 3 Finds Her Calling After Cybersecurity Training Programme
As a mother of three with a background of 15 years as a graphic designer, the odds seem to be against Neo Sihui when she decided to make a career switch into the cybersecurity industry.
Despite her lack of hands-on experience in cybersecurity – her exposure to the industry coming from only television programmes and films – Sihui remained positive and refused to shun away from the opportunity to venture into a new field. The pursuit for new prospects led her to apply for Red Alpha’s Alpha Specialist Training Programme (ASTP) which marked the start of her career switch. Her optimistic nature and unwavering determination led her to not only overcome the rigorous selection process and secure herself a seat as a trainee, but also clinch the title of Most Valuable Player (MVP) in her class – awarded to outstanding students who demonstrated excellence during the 4-month training bootcamp.
Making the big switch
When Sihui graduated with a diploma in Digital Media Design back in the 2000s, she had envisioned herself to stick to the path she had carved for herself in digital design – and her decade-long career in graphic design seemed to sing the same tune.
But Sihui had always been an open-minded individual, curious to dabble in something new. This curiosity and willingness prompted her to consider stepping into the IT industry, which eventually led her to Red Alpha. As someone who does not back down from challenges, Sihui immediately took to ASTP's intensive programme structure - seeing value in the rigorous training and built-in industry placement when first introduced to Red Alpha by her husband.
“There was this opportunity, so I just took it,” she said.
It was a decision that led to the discovery of her affinity for cybersecurity and a full-fledged career in information technology (IT).
The ASTP experience
Sihui shared that she was pleasantly surprised at how smooth her learning was over the course of the training programme. She expressed her initial concerns on the difficulty of the course, though she quickly realised the joy derived from learning under the guidance of DART’s trainers, a cybersecurity training provider overseeing Red Alpha’s bootcamp. In fact, the instructors were greatly impressed by Sihui’s potential, as she efficiently grasped the programming language Python despite her limited work experience.
Her outstanding performance led her to excel in a penetration testing exercise during her mid-term assessment, and she was later awarded the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of her class in the second month of the training bootcamp.
Balancing training and motherhood
As both a mother of three children and a full-time trainee, Sihui experienced her own set of unique difficulties whilst balancing the commitments of a career mom. While her husband’s willingness to stay home for their children alleviated part of her burden, the full-time nature of ASTP posed a challenge for Sihui as she had to adapt to the change of pace.
How did Sihui manage the new shift in lifestyle? To that, she replied, “You need to like it. You need to bring to the table, that passion!”
Sihui’s appreciation for her support system and learning opportunities were key motivations to her in-class commitment – so that she could afford family time after training hours.
Despite the adversities that came with balancing her commitments, Sihui remained enthusiastic in her pursuits and is eagerly awaiting the next phase of the ASTP programme – industry attachment. We wish you all the best, Sihui!
“I get to apply what I learnt, which is to continue doing what I like...which is always fun!”