SINGAPORE - Shifting her focus from technology marketing to cyber-security marketing in her company five years ago, Ms Sherin Y. Lee then charted her own course, attending seminars and meeting industry practitioners before joining a cyber-security firm in May 2018.
Today, Ms Lee, 41, is one of 50 mentors taking part in the Ladies in Cyber Mentorship programme, launched on Tuesday (Nov 26).
Organised by the Association of Information Security Professionals (AiSP), the programme pairs the mentors, who hold diverse industry portfolios, with 50 female students from institutes of higher learning, including the Singapore University of Technology and Design, the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) and polytechnics.
Ms Lee, who heads AiSP's Ladies in Cyber charter, hopes her experience can provide a sense of direction to the students attending the programme.
"I had a constant passion and interest in technology that motivated me to find out more about the field, and embark on a journey of self-learning. This programme can help students develop their confidence and interest in the industry," Ms Lee said.
Only a quarter of cyber-security professionals worldwide are women, causing an acute gender imbalance in the industry.
Besides fewer women, there are also not enough cyber-security professionals here.
In July, the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore said the industry could potentially be short of up to 3,400 professionals by 2020.
Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information and Culture, Community and Youth Sim Ann attended the launch at the Ensign InfoSecurity office in Kallang and commended AiSP for its effort.
"A career in cyber security can be a rewarding one for both men and women, and perhaps especially for women. The very nature of the field lends itself to flexible working arrangements which many people seek - and which many women rely on - in their quest to balance career and family responsibilities," she said.
Ms Sim thanked the mentors for stepping up to guide the younger women into the cyber-security field.
"Your willingness to share experience and give encouragement could inspire many young minds and make a big difference to female representation in the sector," she said.
The mentorship programme, which is expected to run for a year, includes one-on-one mentoring opportunities, company visits and possible internships and attachment opportunities for students.
The students learnt about the programme from lecturers and attended outreach talks before signing up for the programme.
The programme is also flexible, letting mentors and students decide when to meet up and to choose their activities.
The association aims to double the number of mentors in the programme by the end of next year, expanding it to include more companies and secondary school students.
Ms Cindy Sin Yi Sua, a student from ITE College West, believes the programme will help her brush up her skills for a career in the field.
The 17-year-old, who studies cyber and network security, said her brother introduced her to the course after identifying her strong problem-solving and troubleshooting skills.
She is one of 10 girls in her class of 40 students and aspires to become a network administrator in the future.
"A network administrator resolves problems and prevents disruptions in the server. Programmes like this encourage us girls to build our confidence in a male-dominated environment. It helps women step up to help each other in the industry," she said.