Meet the Participants

The SWITCH SEA project has helped over 70 women and LGBTQI+ people working in technical and research roles across four economies, and this number is growing. Some of these participants share their stories below.


Neang Sreyny: SWITCH SEA helped me improve my knowledge

Neang Sreyny participated in multiple courses as part of the project.

I became very interested when I saw a post on social media about the SWITCH SEA Project, so I checked out the website and decided to lodge an application.

After I joined SWITCH SEA, I learned a lot of things from all its members and mentors. Most importantly of all, I improved my knowledge by taking supported courses. Thank you so much to the SWITCH SEA team and all the sponsors, for accepting my application.

It was after I joined the SWITCH SEA project that I started to change my habits and really improve. There were many key changes:

  • I participated in training and had new experiences and more commitment to achieving my goals
  • I became brave enough to talk in public to share knowledge and experiences with others
  • I made a plan for my studies and did more research in my course
  • I was able to take the course I previously wanted to take, and it really improved my current job

I’m really excited that had a chance to join the SWITCH SEA Project.

Ratanaktepi (Tepi) Chhor: A year of personal growth

The SWITCH SEA project came at an ideal time for Tepi to pivot to a stronger technical understanding of her field.

I was initially contacted via email to submit an expression of interest by our national coordinator, and I subsequently followed the application process.

The opportunity to boost my skills under the guidance of leadership and technical mentors were really useful for improving my understanding of the topic. With support from SWITCH SEA, I was enrolled in three courses: APNIC Policy development, Cybersecurity, and Cloud+. I was also part of two mentoring programs: leadership mentoring and technical mentoring. These provided me with a good foundation for personal and professional development. Additionally, we were also subscribed to the AnitaB platform.

I was actually thinking of pivoting to learning a more technical understanding of my field. The SWITCH SEA project provided timely support and a push to improve and upgrade my technical skills, which I might otherwise not have done. Building on this, the opportunity to take a technical course and receive mentorship provided me with more confidence to pursue better prospects in my workplace. Though I am unsure of the opportunities yet, participation in the project has also provided me with tangible evidence to showcase to my manager that I have the commitment to learn and improve.

All in all, though I may not have taken full advantage of the opportunity provided by the APNIC Foundation this year, I am confident to say that this experience has further consolidated the mindset and belief of growing personal and community engagement, both for professional and personal growth.

I believe that the mindset of lifelong learning and continual engagement with the community will help me go further in my career. Though they have yet to manifest in tangible outcomes, I strongly believe that coming to the end of my one year journey with APNIC is only the beginning of many more opportunities ahead.

Sophearum Yun: Improving my management and leadership skills

Sophearum gained a valuable network of contacts through the project.

I received information about the SWITCH SEA project from the head of my department. I then submitted an expression of interest and was interviewed about my interests, reasons for project participation and how I got the information. I was then offered an opportunity to join the project.

Participation in the project brought me many benefits. The training fees were sponsored for online courses such as:

  • Project Management (PMP)
  • Effective Communication Skills
  • Leadership and Team development
  • Risk Management
  • Change Management
  • Basics of Project Management

In addition, I participated in free APNIC courses and webinars such as: 

  • Internet Resource Management Course
  • Introduction of Cyber Security
  • IPv6 Fundamentals
  • Policy Development Process
  • Routing Fundamentals …etc.

I also received mentoring opportunities:

  • An AnitaB Membership account which provided a wide range of mentoring options
  • Mentoring sessions: Receiving feedback, recommendations, and sharing experiences related to knowledge and personal development

There were also other materials provided, including:

  • Welcome gift
  • Year-end party with food and fun games

I gained new friends who all work at different places. We can discuss and share feedback, and talk about our experiences and what we are facing. At the end, I feel very happy that I participated in the SWITCH SEA Project because this project offered sponsorship for training courses, offered materials, ideas and feedback. I was given the opportunity to meet many people from different industries. I hope that I can participate in other projects. SWITCH SEA provided me with positive changes in both my professional and personal life. I would like to say thank you so much to the project team who supported us.

Lida Bien: A chance to improve my technical knowledge

Lida was able to improve her knowledge of security concepts through the project’s courses and mentoring options.

My manager nominated me for a spot in the project, and it proved to be a great chance to improve my technical knowledge.
I learned a lot from the courses I took in SWITCH SEA.

I took courses in hardware, software and security concepts. I also focused on server and network knowledge. Together they all really helped me with network security techniques, which I have been able to apply well at my workplace.

The project also provided us with many mentorship opportunities. We were able to ask mentors if we had any questions.

The AnitaB membership also really helped us to understand these issues and provided useful background knowledge for the lessons.


Kulwadee Engkapunpong: Confidence can be improved by learning and doing

Following her participation in SWITCH SEA, Kulwadee is now taking key roles in large-scale collaborative projects.

I began participating in the project after being invited by the team leader of SWITCH SEA. At first I was worried that I would not be able to participate. I spent a lot of my time working on projects, and I didn’t deal with people very often, which made me hesitant to give presentations and interact with others.

In the end, I decided to give it a shot. I wanted to change myself and I needed to do something different to what I had already been doing. I was always a diligent person, but I hadn’t progressed in my career because I wasn’t able to really put my talents to good use.

I first focused on practical skills, by studying Network Security and Network Tools. The program selections, such as CompTIA PenTest+ Ethical Hacking and the Complete Ethical Hacking Course: Beginner to Advanced all provided me with a fresh perspective on security systems.

There were many topics I had heard about but hadn’t investigated! These courses provided me with more knowledge, and the CompTIA Project+ course provided me with a deeper understanding of the hierarchies of project management, which I was able to apply to my current project.

The programs also boosted by confidence and that pushed me towards studying more. I am now comfortable giving presentations and engaging in conversations. Last year, I was in charge of a project which required collaboration with 45 hospitals. I needed to coordinate presentation of system procedures and work with hospital staff to integrate it into their system. I worked with people across various departments, without any problems. I would like to express my gratitude to SWITCH SEA for motivating me, encouraging me, and giving me the confidence I needed to complete my job responsibilities.

Ultimately I learned that the most significant outcome from my learning was the boost in confidence, along with a newfound eagerness to learn and express myself. Motivating others to do more for themselves and society was another benefit.

Busagarin Nitiwong: My turning point at 50

Busagarin focused on cybersecurity and law as part of the project.

I learned about the SWITCH SEA project through a friend. Individual and group training, as well as social events were provided.

I was working as a university lecturer at the time, and I informed my supervisor about the project invitation.

As a part of the project, I chose to attend the SANS Institute’s “Law of Data Security and Investigation” course as well as the APNIC Academy’s “Cybersecurity Awareness,” “Introduction to Cybersecurity,” “Network Security Fundamentals” and “Policy Development Process” courses, to name a few.

The mentoring sessions also went very well. In Thailand, it’s very difficult to find a specialist in both law and cyber security. Studying these areas was quite challenging for me. The material from the SANS Institute proved particularly helpful.

I believe my personal exposure and recognition have improved. I decided to resign from my teaching position in order to dedicate more time to career development. Resigning was a very big step for me. I was not satisfied with the teaching position I had held for seven years. I have been inspired by the idea of career change. I still need to take some time to gain more current knowledge and hands-on experience in network security and cybersecurity.

Fortunately the APNIC Academy offers a variety of online courses, webinars, and labs to assist me in my new journey. This experience has been thrilling, enjoyable, and exhausting all at the same time. I am eager to complete my training in order to improve my chances of finding a new career that is suitable for me to support my family.

Thitima Paratham: Changing my learning style

Thitima discovered that gaining additional technical knowledge helped her better coordinate with other team members.

Around January 2021, I received an e-mail from the APNIC Foundation and the Thailand project coordinator. When I realized that participants could choose the best course for them, I decided to join the project.

After registering and being accepted into the program, I chose to enroll in courses that would be extremely beneficial to my work. I concentrated on security and virtual machine courses, as well as system operation courses. 

I enrolled in APNIC Academy courses on DNS and DNSSEC, a well as Vnohow Thailand’s CompTIA Cloud Essential+ Certification, and SoSecure Thailand’s Cybersecurity Fundamentals. I have since discovered that my technical and research abilities have greatly improved.  

I discovered three key things about myself in this project:

  1. The project’s objectives of helping women and LGBTQI+ people is what piqued my interest. When I became aware that there were organizations supporting women and LGBTQI+ people by promoting knowledge of technical skills, that’s what actually made me want to get involved
  2. Gaining knowledge in areas outside my core areas of responsibility helped me understand the work of other team members and led to better team coordination. 
  3. My learning style evolved. I used to only focus on in-depth details of technical knowledge to solve problems, but now I can deal with problems on-the-fly thanks to new perspectives.

I have been in the networking field for over 20 years, and held challenging jobs. At the start of my career, I wanted to learn, have fun, and always accomplish the task. As time passed, my network engineer friends, who were all women of the same generation, moved to other departments. Some of them even changed professions. Most of the time, their reasoning was that female network engineers rarely advance in this field, and she could see why. 

Later, I began studying for a master’s degree in finance with the intention of changing careers once I graduated. But, thanks to the love and bonds formed through my network engineering work, I am still working in this field. While I was finishing my master’s degree, the company was undergoing a large network migration, and I was designated as the key person in charge of the operation. So, I decided to keep working until it was successful. I continue to believe that women and LGBTQI+ people face barriers in this field.

I was given the opportunity to choose a new body of knowledge after joining the SWITCH SEA project. It satisfied my curiosity about other technologies. I found that it was not too difficult to learn new things at this point in my career. There has been a significant shift in my learning style and behavior.

In the past, I only learned to use articles or best practices in a professional context. I never considered the importance of documenting my learning. I have to admit that it was difficult for me because I wasn’t used to it. It took some time for me to figure out how to do this.

And once I have mastered this, I’ll be able to create a more systematic learning environment. 

Chidchanok Choksuchat: The new challenges of an expanding research network

Chidchanok received research support for her AI projects.

 learned about the SWITCH-SEA project from a professor’s Facebook post. I filled out the form, then I forgot about it!

Dr Photchanan Ratanajaipan (the National Coordinator for Thailand) reached out to me and I was very surprised.

SWITCH SEA helped me upskill in four key areas: Negotiating, public speaking, understanding the APNIC network and infrastructure, and a specialized course in AI. The most useful lessons were on speaking and negotiation. I am delighted that I now feel comfortable addressing my company and even national audiences. Part of this came from the mentoring sessions from Graciela Selaimen. She is a professional coach who helped empower SWITCH SEA participants. I found her advice incredibly helpful.

The SWITCH SEA project also helped cover the costs of my proposed study project, “Prototype of Internet of Things Data Governance Framework to Encourage Healthcare Data Quality.” I dreamed of being in management in the digital transformation field, and having a strong research network as a study environments. The APNIC Foundation’s SWITCH-SEA project provided everything I could wish for. In the mornings, I studied, and on weekends, I completed my homework. I began to step outside of my comfort zone and realized that progress could not be made unless I changed myself.

I was given the opportunity to share my knowledge with others, both through the university’s academic service project and through the subjects I taught to large number of locals and students. Furthermore, my team was successful in submitting an oral presentation at an international conference whose proceedings were indexed by the IEEE.

I was also given the opportunity to extend my research connections. I took an IBM AI specialization course and was blown away by the AI cloud tool. When I approached IBM about collaborating on teaching and research, they accepted and assisted our team, which included my undergraduate and postgraduate students.

I later made a proposal to the Faculty of Medicine about extending their research technology using AI. The idea involved integrating medical technology and data science. In order to make the pitch, I used the valuable advice from two mentor sessions (Graciela Selaimen and Chaya Limchitti), our project friends, and the AI skills from the upskill courses.

The Digital Government Development Agency (DGA) also decided to organize a focus group to promote education, research, and the development of innovation and technology in the South as part of the DGA’s drive for digital local development. Local people’s lives will be able to extend service innovations to meet the needs of the government sector by providing high-quality digital services to the people’s sector. I was invited to serve as a moderator for this event. I believe this will be my new challenge in the coming year, with good opportunities resulting from the SWITCH-SEA project.

I am incredibly grateful for all this help and all the assistance I have received from the SWITCH SEA project. It helped me get new opportunities, and I was overwhelmed that I also received that research support.

Tunyaton Pongchalerm: This opportunity boosted my visibility at work

Tunyaton gained visibility at her organization and won an award at a conference after participation in the project.

A friend recommended that I apply for the SWITCH SEA project after receiving an email about it. Because this project is open to women and LGBTIQ+ people, I discussed applying for it with my supervisor, who agreed it was a good idea.

The nature of my job at a computer system centre means that the majority of the employees are men. Clients frequently believe that women working in computer systems and networks cannot perform as well as men. Being chosen for the program was a fantastic opportunity me.

I received financial assistance in order to attend courses to help prepare for changes in my work. I also received funding for research and was able to attend self-improvement mentoring sessions that I had never before had the opportunity to attend. All of these opportunities contributed to my increased professional visibility and recognition.

I’m always improving, which is exactly what I wanted. Because the cost of technical training is quite high, my organization has a limited budget to send employees to training programs each year, so we have to take turns. This opportunity allowed me to select the training courses where I wanted to improve my skills, and the options are constantly evolving in accordance with the training plan.

I received financial assistance to cover some costs of submitting research papers to academic conferences. Because my organization only supports a portion of the research funding, this helped to reduce my expenses. I also became more self-assured in my work as a result of the knowledge gained through technical training.

I have received opportunities and recognition from colleagues and clients. I am more conscientious as a result of the improved work and knowledge. I used to work without passion, but once I started working on the project, I was encouraged to stay focused and diligent. Now that I am well-known within the organization, I must read books, keep up with technology, and I am always on the lookout for new information.

Opportunity and acceptance were the two most significant changes in my life – my department posted congratulatory messages on social media when I was confirmed as a participant.

I previously just worked in the background as a computer and network administrator, and wasn’t noticed much. My ideas didn’t get shared. But now I am well known and sought after in the organization. At the time, I was preparing to do some work in order to advance in my career. My professional development was focused on network security. I identified training courses that I believed would be most beneficial to me and applied for them with the project’s assistance. I was starting to look into network and system security in my organization. Because I had to work full-time, attend training courses, and conduct research all at the same time, I had to give everything my all. However, after listening to the self-development mentoring topic, I realized I was putting too much pressure on myself. I needed to let go of some things so that I didn’t overburden myself.

After completing my research, I presented it as a poster at a national academic conference, where I won the best paper award among the institute’s poster research group. The SWITCH SEA project covered the costs of research consulting, graphic design, and application fees for the exhibition. It gave me more confidence to work because of the results and technical knowledge that have been continuously developed throughout the project period.

At meetings, I now dare to express my technical and other opinions. I’ve gained more respect from my colleagues, and I’ve noticed a positive shift in the attitudes of service recipients toward women in this field. I want to be a part of this group so that female and LGBTIQ+ technicians can become more involved and have their skills recognized.

The Philippines

Karyn Maglalang: The new me

Karyn has been part of a team that published a journal paper, and has gained confidence following her participation in the project.

I received an email invitation to complete the SWITCH SEA questionnaire, and after a couple of months, I received confirmation that I was accepted into the project. The next task was choosing courses. I mostly selected more advanced topics that I felt I was not up to par with, compared to my colleagues. This included topics on Software Defined Networking (SDN) and networking in the cloud. I also chose to include CompTIA certifications in my training plan to further improve my skills and to increase my self-confidence. I also received research support from SWITCH SEA which helped our work entitled Scalable and Sustainable Community Networks for Inclusive Smart Cities get registered in the EAI Smartgov 2021 Conference.

Even though the past year was mostly spent at home and we have been facing a new normal, I felt that I experienced a lot of new things that I never would have experienced without the project. For one, I was able to achieve one of my personal goals – being published in a research journal. SWITCH SEA provided the financial support our team needed to be able to participate in the conference where our paper was accepted.

I have also found myself being assigned more leadership roles than previously. I was assigned to lead our team in deploying the experimental architecture in deployment sites for the proof of concept of our paper. Before SWITCH SEA, I would have declined the position. I would never have seen myself leading. I’m a quiet person with little self-confidence. But eventually, I found myself even speaking.

In previous conferences and workshops, I would just listen and do lab work but not really actively participate in discussions. Because of SWITCH SEA, I believe I’ve gained the confidence to participate. Although I still do not feel confident enough to join social events and really network with others, I know that I have improved compared to how I was before.

Another change that I see in myself is my attitude towards learning. Although I am currently taking my Master’s degree, I find that I’ve been enjoying the courses I’ve been taking in SWITCH SEA more than what I take in school. I think that since I was the one who chose the courses to take in SWITCH SEA, I am really interested in the topics and the labs, as opposed to courses or topics in school which are chosen for me or given to me. I’m really thankful that SWITCH SEA gave us the freedom and the empowerment to choose our own courses. Although I admit that at first, I was thinking more of my current job and what my boss would have wanted me to take when I was choosing the courses. In the end, I chose for myself and I enjoyed taking my courses and I learned so much.

I think the most significant change is the improvement in my self-confidence. The courses and the publication may be forgotten eventually; but my growth and the new habits I’ve developed will be with me for a long time. I’m so thankful for SWITCH SEA and the opportunities it allowed me to have and for helping me grow and improve. In this new normal, I was able to find a new (not normal) version of me.

Aecil Trinidad: Leadership is not a title

The project helped Aecil as she was transitioning into leadership roles.

The SWITCH SEA project has a very clear goal, which is to support the professional development of women and LGBTQI+ people in IT. And as our head of Network Operations said, this is a golden opportunity for us to receive training.

An invitation was received by our COO and sent to all departments, for us to fill up the application and get a chance to be selected and join the 25 women from the Philippines to be part of this wonderful opportunity. In the early stages of the program, we were asked to sign the participation agreement and basically instructed on what the program will be like. I really admired Ms. Mia’s passion (our local APNIC Foundation coordinator in PH). She helped me understand how I can construct my training plan and help me identify which goals I would like to set and how I could achieve them.

At first, I was a bit overwhelmed but as she guided me through it, I was amazed that this program was very personalized to each of the participants. It’s not often that I am given an opportunity like this and I thank everyone in this program for allowing me to be part of it. 

The timing could not be more perfect. I am a strong believer that everything happens for a reason and a purpose. During that time, I was at a point in my career where I had been assigned a team to handle while being an officer-in-charge. Being part of the program supported my need during this transition stage, particularly in the area of leadership and management. As I struggled with these huge responsibilities, I understood that I don’t really need a title to be a leader. Simply having a title won’t make me a leader. It is a choice we have to make every day. When we want to influence change or positively shape how we work and deal with different situations, it has to start with a choice to lead.  

Little did I know that my boss and also my mentor was molding me to lead a team for these past few years and she never failed to encourage me. But, I have to be true to myself – I know I’m not fully ready yet. With the help of the program, I realized I can never fully be ready to be a leader. A common misconception about being a leader is that we think we have to know everything for us to qualify as a leader. But in reality, the learning never stops and we only start to grow the moment we begin to try. We learn through experience and we learn from our team members. 

And lastly, what resonated with me the most is realizing that we don’t have to be perfect to be a leader. I am so used of getting things done right, and am so used to working independently. But through the program, it is encouraging to know that what matters is us making the choice to lead, and choosing to be a good example, empowering our team and making contributions, instead of making it right all the time. Because we can never be right every single time. And we can never have all the answers. It is healthy for us to acknowledge we don’t know everything and let the experience teach us instead.  

The most significant change for me is realizing that our community doesn’t need a perfect leader. What it needs are people taking risks, trusting more, taking a leap of faith, chasing growth, and not being afraid of failure. I consider myself as work in progress but hopefully one day, I can consider myself one of them. 

Mitzi Marie Mirar: Grateful for the opportunity

The project helped Mitzi become a cybersecurity instructor.

My manager introduced my team mate and I to SWITCH SEA, and together we grabbed the opportunity and tried our luck. We were both chosen as participants! Over the time I was in the project, I gained a lot of knowledge from the activities that SWITCH SEA provided us. One of the activities that really benefited me was the mentorship. I learned a lot, especially in building confidence towards my work and becoming more productive. To be mentored by a respected person in the field of Computer Science was a great privilege that I will forever treasure. SWITCH SEA project also provided me with a lot of knowledge in cybersecurity, particularly after I enrolled in InfosecTrain and CompTIA Security+ courses, which helped me to understand more concepts in Cybersecurity.

Thinking about the whole experience in the SWITCH SEA project, there were three major changes in my work that took place as a result of the support that the project provided. One of the major changes was that I was given an opportunity to take a part-time job as an instructor. I was able to share the knowledge that the project provided me, especially in Cybersecurity. A second major significant change was that I became more confident towards my work, which was thanks to the mentorship. I remember my manager complimenting me for being calm and confident after my discussion with our Service Desk Team.

Finally, I also noticed that my manager would ask for my ideas or input in solving some technical issues or configuration issues in our client’s network, which was different to previously. It served as a reminder that I am improving and will never stop learning. I am very grateful for the opportunity that the SWITCH SEA provided me. It is a dream to be part of this project.

Challiz Omorog: My APNIC journey

The project helped Challiz gain certifications that were useful in her work.

I was nominated by a colleague to apply and take my chance to be part of the SWITCH SEA Project. Fortunately, I was accepted.

I learned so much from APNIC through mentoring and certifications. I also had a chance to meet new friends and receive research support.

Lots of changes have happened to me in barely eight months. First, I met a lot of empowered women across the Philippines. The meetings may have been brief and conducted virtually, but every shared experience and bit of laughter are moments that I treasure. I won’t forget our virtual Christmas party, which was a new experience for me.

Second, my participation with APNIC also opened an opportunity for me to earn IT certifications. These professional certifications are very expensive, and this is a barrier that remains in higher education today.
I also have to underscore that I received my first international research funding on e-Governance thanks to the APNIC Foundation. This funded research is very meaningful to me as well as the school I represent since this is also their first international research grant.

The most significant change or achievement I have to underscore is the IT certifications that I received once I have completed the training and examination with CompTIA. These certifications have been an unmet target in my department for four consecutive years. But now that these training sessions have been supported and funded by the APNIC Foundation, all these issues have been corrected.

Viet Nam

Nguyen Thi Thu Hang: A better and happier research leader

Thu Hang (top row, center) was better able to encourage her students (also pictured) to submit papers to journals and conduct research thanks to the project.

I received the project information via email, and right away it seemed to be a good opportunity for professional development that would give me experience in applying and participating in various projects. There aren’t many courses available to me due to my preferred specialization. I had not been able to apply for other projects before joining SWITCH SEA.

I was accepted immediately after I had expressed my intentions to my line manager at the Institute where I teach and work. He also considered it a good opportunity.

During the project, I was able to participate in very useful activities related to not only my current major but also my future-oriented major (for at least the next five years), in a number of training sessions held by Ms. Nhung, the Vietnamese project coordinator.

I enrolled in five online courses related to the Internet and IoT. The courses offered knowledge that is updated and closely related to my desired major. I also joined two more sessions on management organized by the Vietnamese project coordinator. The courses gave me more confidence in changing circumstances, obstacles in life, also showed me how to cooperate and promote the development of the working group.

I also successfully asked for support for the group of scientific research students that I led.

In regard to the most significant change for me, the story began with the goal of study and research at the beginning of the project and I have achieved more than I expected up to the present time: I became more active in teaching and research, improving my life and finding the significance and results of my work, as well as contributing to promoting students in research and living more actively.

During the project, the focus of my teaching shifted from the Internet to a major in IoT. The option of online study during the SWITCH SEA project gave me more confidence to deal with this sudden change. I had an opportunity, for the first time, to master a detailed outline for a subject (related to IoT) after nearly many years of teaching as a lecture writer. This was also the first time I conducted a detailed review of a lecture related to my previous major, Internet and Protocols.

In research and guiding students/groups of students on scientific research. I was able to obtain funds to support students on scientific research and royalties for articles of international publications. I also guided students to write articles for domestic and international newspapers and magazines, and I acted as the corresponding author (I was just the first author or co-author). In the past, due to budget and time constraints, I could only publish one international seminar paper in the country each year and at most one journal article, but when I had more time and money and time to guide students in 2021, I had two international seminar papers published, of which the second one was completed during my participation in the SWITCH SEA project, along with one domestic journal article.

Training students to research and write articles is also an honourable and proud result because this is a ground for the students to have the knowledge and experience to apply for a scholarship to study abroad at a higher level.

In daily life, connecting and sharing with other women in IT, while also participating in projects and being more active in cooperation/learning activities helped me feel better. A better understanding of the limitations and difficulties of current life during the COVID-19 pandemic has helped me to reduce anxiety and change from a passive mentality to an active and positive one.

In short, the project has brought a lot of benefits to my life, both professionally and psychologically. I would like to give very special thanks to the members of the project for giving me a good chance to change.

In the less-than one year I have been involved in the project, I have made many positive strides in both professional knowledge and in life. Perhaps the most important thing for me is to change my attitude to be more positive and proactive, happier with my work and life.

Chu Hong Trang: Changing through the simple things

Chu Hong Trang found that the SWITCH SEA project gave her personal development at just the right time.

I filled in the online survey for the SWITCH SEA project, and quickly realized that the project can bring a lot of benefit for participants. I am a policymaker in the ICT Industry. My job requires that I update and research the ICT laws and policies of other countries and international organizations. Furthermore, I also need to upskill soft skills like giving presentations and effective communications. The SWITCH SEA project gave me opportunities to meet these needs.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted me significantly in 2021. I was very busy with my government job which involved supporting society, technology companies and the central and local governments to overcome the pandemic. This meant I could not join as many courses as I wanted. I chose some short online courses to improve my communication skills and some courses about making laws such as Artificial Intelligence laws, and digital data acts.

All the meetings and courses moved online and that created barriers for Vietnamese members to meet in person, share knowledge and get to know each other. However, we remained a good team and we supported each other. All the documents, speakers, and supporters were great. We learned a lot from them.

I was always concerned about finding ways to improve my skills and personal development. Before coming to the SWITCH SEA project, I had to face an overload and difficulties in work. I felt like I lost a lot of motivation and lost my life balance.
I was looking for something to change. Sometimes I also wanted to find a new job, a new direction. The SWITCH SEA project came, and I wished for a change.

I got my wish.

Although I didn’t attend many courses, even signing up for any technical courses at all felt like an overload given all the other things I was handling. However, through the project I got know new friends, speakers and technical women who are passionate about their jobs and always learning new things. I have learned a lot from them, from their practical sharing. I also learned from Ms. Nhung – the project coordinator in Vietnam – who is always cheerful, enthusiastic and full of energy. I am impressed with the way she leads the courses, supports us and shares openly. The courses and seminars have given me many new perspectives, and new thoughts.
2021 has been tumultuous with significant difficulties. I also understand that I have to make more effort. I’m not saying I’ve had big changes, but I believe that I’m changing into a better version of myself, day by day, thanks to the value that SWITCH SEA brings. And most importantly, I think I’m back on track. I know what I really need and want, and I am more enthusiastic about my work and loving what I have.

If 2021 was the year I found myself again, in 2022 I will develop my knowledge and skills. I also believe that projects like the APNIC Foundation’s SWITCH SEA will continue to bring a lot of value to the Internet community in general and women in IT in particular.

Thank you very much for giving me an opportunity to be a part of the project.

Nguyen Thi Mien: SWITCH yourself

Mien has gained skills in managing her workload, confidence and English proficiency.

I was lucky enough to be selected to join the SWITCH SEA project, as one of its youngest members in Viet Nam. The project was just starting in the early spring of 2021 and officially kicked off when 23 members from different companies joined. Time passed so quickly, now 2022 has arrived. I will continue to take part in the SWITCH SEA project when I turn 25.

The project activities have brought me a lot of interesting experiences and useful knowledge, ranging from trending courses such as Internet resource management, cloud computing and SQL, through to private discussions with my mentor. The project also encouraged team members to join in and share their skills during meetings, particularly around time management and effective ways of working. In addition, I also discovered the colorful world of technology on the forum.

One thing that cannot be ignored is the APNIC-branded souvenirs that the project gave to members, which encouraged and gave us more motivation to complete the goals of the project.

SWITCH SEA helped me develop in many respects. I learned about the latest technology trends and gained a deeper understanding of cloud computing (which I am pursuing further). I am better at planning and managing my workload, and I can actively participate in extracurricular activities related to my expertise.

In life, even though I sometimes feel stressed out, when I think about the results I can achieve, I feel much more motivated. I am connected with people around me working in engineering, which is considered difficult for women. This shows me objective sharing as well as how people always keep their passion for work.
I myself am aware that I need to improve my professional skills and management skills in the process of career advancement, which I have never thought of before.

The most significant change I think that I have been more confident about public speaking, no longer worried as much as before. In addition, my English language proficiency has also improved. I can read and understand it a lot faster than before even though it’s not really fluent right now.

The thing that I regret most right now is that I have not learned more! Sometimes I get distracted. If there is a future chance, I hope to be chosen as a member of SWITCH SEA again.

Truong Que Thanh: Becoming a digital citizen

The project helped Truong Que Thanh develop her cybersecurity and English skills.

I was very fortunate to be introduced to the project by the recruiter who sent me the project information. I saw that the project could help me a lot, so I boldly applied. I signed up for four courses that I felt were necessary for me at that time:

  • Speaking with confidence: Thanks to this soft skill, I gained confidence after the course. It was quite interesting to learn these tips so that I can talk comfortably and confidently.
  • Introduction to Cybersecurity Course: Information security is necessary knowledge these days, and the course provided me with the concepts of information security, and how to keep it confidential within what is considered reasonable. It also included information on when to recommend information to people at higher levels in the company.
  • Being a Good Digital Citizen: This course gave me knowledge about communication on the Internet, how to use tools on Google, and how to communicate on social media. Although I use social media a lot and thought I knew it all, I still wasn’t using it properly. The course helped me to better use the Internet and protect myself on social media and guided me on how to spot fake information. In addition, the course also taught me how to install software, test computers and fix minor errors in the operating system.
  • Learn English by app Rosettastone: This helped improve my English pronunciation. But this is not enough to reach my English goals because it only supports my pronunciation and communication of some common topics.

I look forward to the project’s further support in improving my English to better suit my job requirements and improve my knowledge. Throughout the project, I realized that it is critical for me to further improve my English because updates on technology and good courses are all in English.

A key theme of the project is being empowered to promote and protect an open, free and secure Internet, and I think the best aspect of this is that I have a better understanding of the Internet, I understand I need to use  social media and the Internet more carefully. I have learned how to protect myself online and am more aware of issues relating to online news. In addition, I also learned how to study online effectively. Thanks to the project, I also know that the APNIC academy offers many online and free courses that are quite interesting and practical for me.

Finally, I realized that my most positive change is that I am more interested in online learning. It will help me to learn and improve myself more to meet job requirements and improve my quality of life.