#WorkinginCSA: From Moulding the Next Generation to Forging International Collaboration

21 Jan 2022

Formerly an MOE history teacher, Liu Jiamin now works as an officer in CSA’s International Cyber Policy Office, where she works closely with the global community to promote international cooperation on cybersecurity matters, as well as monitors and assesses international tech and digital developments.

1. What sparked your interest in cybersecurity?

To be honest, I do not think I knew much about cybersecurity before joining CSA! Prior to joining CSA, my only exposure to cybersecurity was through delivering cyber wellness lessons as a teacher. However, this did not deter me from pursuing a career in cybersecurity; in fact, it piqued my curiosity. I believe a career in cybersecurity, particularly at CSA, is fundamentally not too dissimilar to teaching. Educating students is one of the key components of contributing to Singapore’s collective defence as these youths are the future of Singapore. This is not unlike my career at CSA, where I contribute to the efforts of protecting Singapore’s cyberspace and our national security.

2. What is a typical day at work like for you?

Our team at the International Cyber Policy Office (ICPO) manages CSA’s international engagements, including those between international partners and internal stakeholders. In supporting CSA’s overall mission, I also conduct research on new cyber and digital security trends and recommend strategies and policy positions in response to emerging technologies and international developments. 

3. Tell us something interesting about your job that not many people know about.

People are always surprised whenever I tell them that I work at CSA. This could be due to my background in teaching and academic qualifications in history. When seen from the public lens, where cybersecurity is commonly perceived as a technical field, my background seems completely irrelevant. However, cybersecurity is a very diverse field which encompasses many different areas of expertise, like a machine that requires various parts in order to function well.

Having said this, in order to stay relevant, it’s certainly helpful in the long run to continue upgrading my skills and knowledge through courses on the basics and evolution of cybersecurity that are offered by the agency. Finally, being able to regularly interact with CSA’s senior management, colleagues from the rest of CSA and other parts of the Government has helped me gain a better understanding of the bigger picture, and also benefited me in allowing me to learn more about the technicalities and broader impact of cybersecurity.

4. What is your most memorable experience working in CSA so far?

My experiences at work are largely shaped by purpose and people. Being able to see the connection between what I value and what I spend my time doing has made working at CSA a very memorable experience. To know that my work protects and serves Singapore and Singaporeans has made it rewarding. More importantly, I work alongside a team of dedicated, capable and forward-looking colleagues. Having them alongside me has made it easier to overcome challenging moments as we work together to address issues. If I were to pinpoint a specific example, it would be my first Singapore International Cyber Week (CSA’s signature event!) in 2020. The teamwork between the different divisions of CSA was evident, as we sought to make the event successful despite the challenges of organising an international event during COVID-19. 

5. You are a licensed tour guide and you also volunteer with Care Corner Singapore. Tell us more about these pursuits?

I have always been interested in history and heritage, which I believe anchor the sense of identity that is so essential to nation building. I pioneered a neighbourhood heritage trail programme back when I was still teaching and eventually decided to pursue a tourist guide licence – in the hope of fostering greater understanding, particularly among youths, of Singapore’s culture and traditions. I also volunteer with Care Corner Singapore in MindBlown, a four-year adolescent development programme that focuses on developing the executive function skills in youths to prepare them for adulthood. Despite the fast-paced environment at ICPO, I think it’s important to carve out time to pursue interests outside of work, so that I can take the opportunity to “switch off” from work, rejuvenate and develop new skills.