I have occasionally pondered the necessity of continued training, and more often questioned my own ability to absorb any more information at my current age.
Like they always say, you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.
However, after meeting 47-year-old Zailani Asral Mohamed, I had to reconsider my perceptions.
A veteran in the information technology (IT) industry, Zailani has over 22 years of experience under his belt.
Though his work primarily revolves around designing solutions for IT workspaces, he did not initially start with an IT background.
“I only had pre-university qualifications from a private school, and I did not even get a full certificate for my A levels. I only got my polytechnic diploma a couple of years back, and I took it part-time.
“But I read a lot on tech stuff, went for a lot of training and took many IT certifications. I’m glad I did,” he explained.
When I asked him why he made the switch, he candidly responded that it was not uncommon for people to move to the IT industry even though they had studied or majored in other areas.
“I guess it also had something to do with my passion for IT. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have lasted this long in the industry, either!” Zailani laughed.
Going for Training
Today, the father of four is still always searching for courses to broaden his knowledge of the digital landscape.
He recently attended a day course called Cybint Cyber Security Protection (CSPC) Programme with NTUC LearningHub (NTUC LHUB), making use of his Union Training Assistance Programme (UTAP) fund to offset the cost.
A product of a collaboration between Israeli military-trained cybersecurity experts and education experts, the programme uses real-world threats and scenarios to equip attendees with the skills to protect themselves in the cyberworld.
While the course itself was not directly applicable to his current role, Zailani felt that it expanded on his existing skillsets, while also satisfying his inquisitive nature on all things IT.
“I have always been curious, and I think it is hard to survive in any industry if you are not curious – especially if you are in IT where things are constantly changing.”
“Technology impacts most, if not all, businesses. This is the main driver that encourages me to keep training. But there are also non-technical/technology skills that are also evolving and require training,” he said.
Besides IT-related courses, Zailani is also a Member of Kelab Pidato Perdana (Malay Toastmasters), where he learns to improve his presentation and communication skills.
When asked why he is always going for different courses, and if he had any difficulty in learning new things at his age, he simply responded that he felt that it helped promote mental well-being. Additionally, the knowledge gained was beneficial for interactions, both at work and during leisure.
“To be honest, the retention of the material is a bit of a problem now. But understanding it is a piece of cake because of my experience in the industry.”
“Which is why now and then, I would go for such courses to refresh my knowledge,” he said.