Geetha Murugesan, CISA, CRISC, CGEIT, CDPSE, Information Risk Management Consultant; Member, ISACA Emerging Trends Working Group

Geetha is an IT Governance, IT security, IT risk management and IT professional with over twenty-five years’ experience. Most recently, she has offered consulting, implementation, and advisory services to various organisations in the banking, telecom, health care, manufacturing, government, and insurance sectors while working for a largest Indian IT software company. She is a regular on-site trainer for conducting training through ISACA HQ for certification exam like CRISC and CISA for various multinationals for the last 5 years. In a conversation with Higher Education Digest, Geetha talks about how digital education like certifications in IT field has been completely revamped after pandemic, what are the major trend which is going on for the up skilling and reskilling of IT professionals and how these certificates can help young employees to crack the subject.

 

What is the reason behind engineering graduates shifting to IT?

In India, as well as in other countries around the world, engineering is seen as a reputable and secure profession, and so a significant number of students pursue this degree in colleges every year. The main issue that these engineering graduates face is that there are just not enough open positions for these roles in India once they complete their degrees. Once these recent graduates realize that there are an abundance of jobs available in the IT sector, including those that may allow them to leverage their technical and analytical skills, they start to explore career options in this field.

How difficult or easy is it to learn IT skills like computing fundamentals, cybersecurity fundamentals for a non-IT person?

In the IT industry, it is not uncommon to hear of people who have come to the profession after initially getting a very different university degree—even in something like language arts or political science. The key to succeeding in making the transition to IT is having a strong willingness to learn and an interest to understand how technology works, as well as some key skills like analytical thinking and problem solving. From there, someone coming from a non-IT background can learn technical skills over time and with effort and training, credentials and hands-on experience, including around hardware, operating software, databases, networking, application systems, data privacy, and emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and cloud computing. This hands-on experience can come not only from jobs, but also from interactive online training and even volunteering to work with professionals in these domain areas.

Other than Engineering, are there graduates from other streams too taking up to IT?

Graduates from a varied range of backgrounds and programs are pursuing careers in IT, including from areas of study like accounting, auditing, and science to management, business, communication, and psychology. There is no limit on who can pursue a career in IT—having a strong sense of curiosity, a drive to learn new things, an analytical mind and interest in technology that can go a long way in helping non-IT graduates make the transition successfully.

How does one learn the basics / fundamentals of these IT skills, especially those who are not from the IT sector?

Online courses, including those for IT credentials, can provide those wanting to make the switch to an IT career with not only the knowledge they need to work in the IT field, but also hands-on skills too. Some of these courses also provide online virtual labs that allow learners to gain experience doing technical exercises in a live, but safe virtual environment, including certificates that make up the recently introduced ISACA ITCA certification. These kinds of online courses allow those pursuing a career in IT for the first time to not only understand the fundamentals of key IT domains but also provide confidence that they can do relevant tasks that they would need to do on the job.

Which are the most popular skills in IT today? And why?

Some of the main skills that are important for new IT professionals to attain are in the areas of computing, virtualization, networking architecture and operations, information security and cybersecurity, risk assessments, threat analysis and prevention, data collection and classification, data privacy, and practical programming and software development skills. As many of these areas overlap or influence each other, it is important for IT professionals to have a grasp of the fundamentals in all these areas, even if specializing in one domain area.

Has the COVID-19 pandemic had anything to do with this shift in careers? 

During the pandemic, virtually all industries were impacted and needed to rapidly shift some or all their operations or offerings online, including transitioning their staff to working remotely. This also highlighted the need for IT professionals to support this remote workforce and protect organizations from cybersecurity threats.

Others may have had their jobs impacted by the global health crisis and found themselves needing to make a career change and realized that jobs in IT are increasingly more valuable in a landscape in which so much of our lives and work are online. Many people who were at home during pandemic lockdowns also found themselves with more time to focus on professional development and to reconsider what career path they wanted to take keeping their future aspirations. Having more options for online learning, training and obtaining credentials also allowed many people an increased opportunity to reskill and upskill in IT from the safety of their homes during the pandemic.

Of late there has been a spike in online certification courses. How relevant are these for those wanting to shift gears to IT?

Certifications can be a powerful way not only to gain knowledge and hands-on skills, but also to demonstrate to recruiters and prospective employers that you have the necessary knowledge and skillset to bring value to an organization and succeed in an IT role.

Even for those who are already in IT jobs, it is imperative to continue to upskill to keep pace with the ever-changing technology landscape and ensure your skills are up-to-date, and online courses and certifications are a convenient way to help them achieve from anywhere, anytime.

Are online certification courses alone enough to make a career shift to IT?

Online training and certification courses offer a flexible, convenient, and often cost-effective way to build skills and knowledge to prepare for a new career in IT. However, other resources and professional organizations, like ISACA, can also provide guidance, best practices and a community for networking, all of which are also valuable for making a career shift to IT.

Which are top cities in India which is witnessing this trend?

Given that many IT jobs are now able to be done remotely, and more and more training and credentialing options are available virtually, this trend is not only being seen in large cities, but also mid-size cities throughout India.

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