Since the age of 16, all Thinesh s/o Kanaga Rajan ever wanted was a career with the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). After he completed his degree at SIT, Thinesh discovered another way of contributing his skills to the defence of Singapore.
When Thinesh s/o Kanaga Rajan stood on stage to receive his degree scroll on 14 October, his father and grandmother were in the auditorium cheering for him. Later, as he posed for a photo with his family, he took care to adjust the drape of his aach-chi’s sari to make sure she looked picture perfect.
He said, “I’m glad that at age 90, she is able to attend my graduation!”
Thinesh with his father and grandmother after his graduation ceremony. (SIT Photo: Keng Photography/Gwen Chew)
It was a bittersweet moment for Thinesh, 35, because he wished his mother was still around to celebrate his graduation. When he was a regular at the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), she had encouraged him to pursue his degree. At the time, he enjoyed a fulfilling career with the SAF, so furthering his studies didn’t occur to him. Eventually, his mother convinced him that he should do more to live up to his potential.
But Thinesh almost failed his admissions interview for the Bachelor of Engineering with Honours in Information and Communications Technology (Information Security) programme at SIT.
He recalled, “I was so nervous that I couldn’t answer any of the panel’s questions. There were four other applicants, and I was the only one who told the panel that I didn’t know the answers and couldn’t remember what I studied!”
He thought it was the end of the road for him. But when the interviewees were given a problem to solve as a group, Thinesh managed to summarise the group’s ideas and present them in a coherent manner.
He said, “To this day, I believe that was my saving grace!”
There were many milestones during his learning journey at SIT. But it was during his Integrated Work Study Programme (IWSP) at PulseSecure that made him understand Singapore’s defence from a fresh perspective.
“After my IWSP stint, I had a greater understanding of the threat vectors around us. Singapore’s defence is what my heart beats for, and I believe that cybersecurity will be the focus in the future. When I was offered a job at PulseSecure, an IT consultancy that runs cybersecurity exercises for government agencies, I saw it as an opportunity to play a critical role in Singapore’s defence.” Currently a Senior IT Consultant at PulseSecure, Thinesh helps his company run cybersecurity exercises for government agencies.
Thinesh (centre) with classmates Mr Chen Yu Feng (left) and Chan Kang Sian (right) after his graduation ceremony. (SIT Photo: Keng Photography/Gwen Chew)
Thinesh said, “We all have 24 hours every day to do the things we want to do. I decided to make it a priority to pursue my goals because it's now or never. Progress is all around us. If I don't continue to improve, how am I going to remain relevant?”
His advice to those who want to upgrade is to step out of their comfort zone.
“Just explore because there are different options to suit different lifestyles. If full-time studies is not an option, take up part-time studies. There is no doubt it is going to be very tough, but every day brings fresh opportunities. At SIT, it was the opportunity to work towards a common goal with my course mates that gave me strength to get through tough days.”
Thinesh receiving an award at SIT’s Student Leader Appreciation Night from SIT President Prof Chua Kee Chaing. (SIT Photo)
When the Going Gets Tough
He shared, “I had a tough time when my mother passed on in 2019. When she was ill, I remember rushing to the hospital between classes or project meetings to see her during visiting hours. Those days were physically exhausting and heartbreaking. There were times when I just didn't feel like continuing.”
Looking back, he is thankful for the friends who were there, even though they were not completely aware of his situation.
“After my family lost her, it was difficult to keep my focus on studies. I would think of her often. Sometimes, I would stay back in school until late at night when everyone had left for the day, just so I could sit alone with my thoughts.”
Despite his loss, Thinesh did his best to redirect his focus on his studies.
He said, “I enjoy the adrenaline that comes with tackling challenges. I am all for pursuing new goals or additional qualifications. This is especially important in my industry. To be effective in cybersecurity services, I need to continue learning regardless of age. The hacker just needs to get it right once; the defender, always.”
Studying at SIT provided him with a strong foundation to support his industry learning and a head start on the future certifications he needs. Being in SIT also taught him to be more empathetic. It was his compassion for fellow SITizens that earned him the ‘Most Inspiring Student Leader’ award at the Student Leader Appreciation Night 2022. Aside from giving others a listening ear when they needed support, he also made it a point to offer encouragement to fellow SITizens.
Thinesh (centre) with fellow members of the SIT Futsal Club. (Photo: Thinesh s/o Kanaga Rajan)
He said, “Everyone deserves an opportunity, so we must support one another. Especially because we never really know what someone is going through. In a competitive world, where every man is fighting for himself, I value kindness the most and I take pride in being friends with everyone."
Thinesh is looking forward to his role as an industry supervisor for the first time. It is now his turn to mentor SIT students for their capstone project.
He said, “I will provide one-to-one mentoring sessions with them to address any concerns they may have about school, work, or their capstone project. I hope I can guide them and help them find learning opportunities, so they can excel in their work and complete their projects efficiently, bringing value to SIT and the industry.”
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