You don't need to be a coding whizz to join, says cyber security manager

Ms Charlene Soh, a cybersecurity manaer at the Centre for Strategic Infocomm Technologies. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - You can't search for what you don't know on Google - that is something Ms Charlene Soh, 30, relishes about her work as a cyber security manager at the Centre for Strategic Infocomm Technologies (CSIT).

"You get access to a lot of information that the private sector won't receive because it's about national security," she said, adding that solutions cannot be found online due to the sensitive information involved.

"One of the unique points about working in the national defence sector (is that) the kind of projects you do require you to think more and rely on your own skill sets."

CSIT is the lead digital technology agency in the Ministry of Defence, researching and building digital products to meet Singapore's national security needs.

They include searching for cyber-security vulnerabilities in computer systems and assessing tools that can uncover these, which is what the team Ms Soh leads does.

"And then we develop methodologies to identify areas of weakness so we can defend against cyber threats," she said.

But one does not need to be a coding whizz to join CSIT, said Ms Soh, who has been with the centre for seven years.

She would know, as she was a Defence Science and Technology Agency scholar who studied pure mathematics in university and had "quite basic" coding knowledge until she joined CSIT.

"A lot of the skill sets that I have were picked up on the job. We really do have a really intensive and well-planned programme."

New employees can expect a six-month training programme, opportunities to take external training courses and a mentor assigned to ensure that they have the required skills to do their job well.

She added: "At CSIT, it is quite common for us to make lateral moves to build technical skills in depth and then train your managerial and people development skills."

Ms Soh, who unwinds in her free time by playing online game Pokemon Unite, cooking and, more recently, cycling "to get away from the desk once in a while", said the prospect of protecting Singapore keeps her going.

"The other part is (that)... there's just so much learning to do in the fast-moving tech industry," she added.

And learning is collaborative at CSIT. "People are more than happy to share with you their new techniques and new findings just so you can use those and make them even better," she said.

"This sharing culture was something that I really didn't expect and I was very happy. It's another thing that keeps me going."

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