Published on 15 Nov 2022

Spurring other women in tech on

Dr Carrine Teoh Chooi Shi (EEE/2001), one of the Top 30 Women in Cybersecurity in ASEAN, believes in empowering females to succeed as women in tech. She advocates for everyone in the tech community to pitch in and grow a pipeline.

By Sadia Roohi

It takes a village to raise a child. The same goes for nurturing young girls to be passionate about subjects in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), said Dr Carrine Teoh, an alumna from NTU’s School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering’s Class of 2001.

A successful woman in tech, Dr Teoh was awarded Top 30 Women in Cybersecurity in ASEAN 2021 and Top 10 Women in Security in Malaysia in 2020. She is currently the Chief Strategy Officer at Bond Holdings, a property development firm with over a hundred staff, and gives adjunct lectures at Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS in Malaysia. On top of this, the energetic mother of two juggles with upskilling herself, as well as stepping forth to serve in NTU Alumni Association (Malaysia) and mentoring female technologists at Association for Information Systems. 

Recently, Dr Teoh attended NTU Alumni Homecoming in Singapore. She shares her plan for Malaysia’s AA, and her tips on managing a successful C-suite career. 

Looking back, what encouraged you to pursue engineering studies at NTU? 

Growing up, I always wanted a career in science research or medicine, as I enjoyed studying science subjects and I knew I wanted to help people. 20 years ago, I applied for a few universities and decided on NTU’s engineering programme, given its proximity to home in Perak, Malaysia.

After completing the first-year common engineering programme, I specialised in EEE as electronics was very much in demand at that time, and because of my keen interest in integrated circuit design.

One of my best takeaways was bonding with hall mates from Hall 2. We still meet up whenever I am in Singapore. I also remember outstanding teaching faculty, Prof Lalit Kumar Goel and Dr Shi Xu who started Nanofilm – I did my National Undergraduate Research Opportunity Programme (NUROP) at Dr Shi’s lab. 

What was your career progress after graduating from NTU?

The NTU degree is well recognised and has helped me in securing a job even before I graduated. When I was in my final year, I received a job offer from Matsushita, now known as Panasonic. However, I was with them for only three months as I moved on to join Cadence which specialises in electronic systems design. At Cadence, I was offered to help them set up the Cadence Representative Office in Malaysia. Ever since then, I have continued building my career in Malaysia. From product engineering, I branched into business management and information technology.

Life is truly a journey. There is always so much that we do not know and hence so much that we need to learn. In order to apply technology, we need to translate it to a business case, so I took up a part-time MBA course in 2010. 

Dr Carrine Teoh, with her husband, Mr Ong Teng Boon. 

I ventured into the cyber security field in 2009 and started working in Cybersecurity Malaysia – the national cyber security specialist agency under the purview of Malaysia’s Ministry of Communications and Multimedia Malaysia. The thirst for knowledge sparked my interest to pursue a PhD in Cybersecurity, where I completed it in three years by 2018. Six years ago, I joined the current company, a property development company. Besides planning strategies, I integrate technology into property development to increase the efficiency of project implementation. 

As an accomplished cyber security female leader, what’s your advice for girls interested in tech careers? 

The technological scene has evolved rapidly, and I am glad more women have joined the tech industry. I keenly support the Women in Tech worldwide movement, because female technologists provide refreshing ideas and workplace diversity. Sometimes, when men and women work together on a problem, they can provide better solutions.

Having more women in tech does not happen overnight. Companies should actively grow a talent pipeline of female technologists and engineers, and eliminate any form of stereotyping that tech is only suitable as a career for men.

Families and schools can encourage young girls to study STEM subjects. There are many successful women in tech and these women must stand up as role models. Only then will our young girls understand and believe that tech is not an intimidating field for them to pursue a career in. 

You are a working mom and even earned a doctorate degree in three years. How do you manage your busy schedule and handle multiple roles?

When I was pursuing my postgraduate degrees, I set my own timeline to complete them in a specified number of years. If I did not complete as per my “deadlines”, my timeline for other projects will be hampered. I remember waking up at 4am every day to work on my PhD thesis and I made it a point to complete whatever I had planned for each month.

When I set my own “deadline”, I can then decide on the little steps I need to take to accomplish my task. If I miss one step, I realise that I need to quicken my pace to meet my “deadline”. This way, it does not seem too frightening when I set out to complete an important milestone. 

Dr Teoh believes in managing her time well so that her responsibilities towards her family and work are fulfilled. She is seen here with her husband Mr Ong (far right) and two sons.

As a mother of two boys aged eight and 19, it is important for me to manage my time well so that I do not neglect my family, work or studies. We must make sure all our responsibilities in all aspects of our lives are fulfilled well. 

We would like to know more how our alumni in Malaysia are doing. What are Malaysia Alumni Association’s latest developments?

Some Malaysian alumni travelled to Singapore, and we organised a networking session on NTU campus during Alumni Homecoming in October, where we interacted with fellow alumni as well as Malaysian students. We engage them early so that they will stay connected with the University as supportive alumni. 

NTU’s Malaysian alumni and students gathered for a talk and networking session at this year’s Alumni Homecoming.

We are setting up NTUAA (Malaysia) as a verified network and plan to have more collaborations with other NTU alumni associations around the world. Our alumni can interact with them for professional networking which is essential for career development.

We have resumed physical meetings and networking events every quarter. And rather than meeting in only one location, which is usually Kuala Lumpur, we are now meeting alumni in their own cities all over Malaysia.

For example, we have organised events in Ipoh, Melaka and Kuala Lumpur, and our event in December will be held at Kota Kinabalu. By doing so, our alumni are encouraged to attend these events as it is more convenient for them. And they feel important too. We have been meeting many new faces at these events and we hope to keep them effectively engaged.

I do look forward to meeting more NTU alumni worldwide as they have established careers in various fields and disciplines, and there are opportunities to network and collaborate among alumni.