After NS, I applied for a job at Altron, a computer training school. I had no qualifications, but I convinced the hiring manager, Arthur, to try me out. About 2 weeks later, one of their lecturers had an accident, and I was hired to take his place teaching students! Then, my manager left to join a new company (Information Edge) and asked me to follow him as an IT officer. That company was acquired the next year, and I became a Systems Engineer. (Horizon.com)
My career progressed quickly over the next few years, riding the waves of the IT dotCOM boom. I went from Systems Engineer to Pre-Sales Engineer, to Technical Manager, Systems Manager, Director of IT and VP of Products & Services. I was getting poached from company to company. I was more valuable to my bosses than other colleagues. Perhaps because I didn’t have a formal education, I became good at strategic thinking and solving real-world problems while taking a long-term approach to problem-solving, and that led me to solve bigger problems for the companies I worked with.
In July 1999, I found myself alone in China, tasked with nearly an impossible problem to solve. I am implementing a factory system and need to secure the network with a firewall but there was no budget in the project to procure a firewall! There was no pre-packaged or free firewall software solution that I could install on the Sun Microsystem server. Even after scouring all the forums using the Alta Vista search engine on a slow internet connection, accessible via a 28.8 kbps modem, I could not find any ready solution. Long story short, I discovered Linux OS, rolled up my sleeves, learned it, and within 2 months, built my solution from scratch - a network firewall using Linux. I published my guide online, “Linux Firewall with IPFWADM”, on how to build a free network firewall with an open-source system.
Within days, it became a hit! Multiple big-name websites including LinuxWorld published my article, and I became like a small celebrity in the tech community. I received job offers from 11 companies.