Every good story starts with rejection. Mine is no different. Growing up in a developing country such as Pakistan in a highly education-centered family, I felt like I had little to no freedom to explore who I am.
My life seemed predetermined and reasonable. My parents were training me to be an army man and I had accepted my fate without objection. I did coaching for Cadet School & got rejected when I was in class seventh.
It is in 2016 and 17 during studying for my HSC with flying colors that I was finally ready to take a step toward the dream that my parents have been training me for.
Rejected from ISSB (Inter-Services Selection Board), Pakistan Army.
After a bit of a gap, I started to explore Law education. I was doing alright, nothing top-notch but something felt off. I had no idea what was off but I only knew it wasn’t my thing.
Hopeless, I quit and joined the wrong crowd. Loneliness had gotten to me and the group I associated myself with at the time, made me feel at home. But more than that, I felt like I had some control over myself.
In 2017, I was ready to take life seriously, leave the group and join university. My degree of choice was Telecommunication Engineering at the University of Sindh in the 2018 Batch. Having a strained relationship with my parents made it difficult for me to continue my education. Due to my merit secured, University had opened up new doors for me. I was regularly taking part in Startup Contest & programming contests which was further enhancing my skills.
My personal IT learning journey was sort of triggered by watching a David Bombal video randomly on YouTube, in Jan 2019. Actually, I was struggling with the project (part of my Bachelor’s Degree in Telecom) based on Networking. It needed knowledge of the RADIUS server, Linux, and some coding stuff. And I had not much idea of any of these things. So, I kept figuring out the things and somehow completed the project. But while doing all this, I was 100% clear that I have to learn Coding, Networking, ML, Linux, and Cloud technologies. Then exams, internship, and COVID, all messed up. Then I planned that now I will learn all that.
So as always, I made a super-exciting plan to cover everything. And yes, by that time, I had procured all my devices, etc, and also joined a lot of online platforms to learn Networking, Cloud and SecOps, etc to earn some certifications. I do not want to defame them by mentioning them here, but I wasted my hard-earned.
But anyway, I did not lose heart and planned to start again.
So again, with full enthusiasm and to learn everything I bought annual subscriptions to InfoSec, cybrary, Coursera, and Udemy. I tried to convince many of my classmates and friends to start learning with me, but unfortunately, they all had their own things to do. So, I kept struggling alone. You must have figured out my mistake by now like I was getting overwhelmed. Studying Engineering degree, then all these courses, no idea what to start, in what order, etc. Then one night, I came across a session of Gul Iqbal’s on CCNA. Something clicked or I don’t know what I thought that this guy may help me. Maybe it was his high-pitched voice or speaking in my native language (Urdu), I thought I should join them. So, I joined.
Now things started changing gradually. I was studying full time, and attending classes from 8 AM to 3 PM. It was CCNA, MCSA/MCSE, and LINUX all three simultaneously, 5 days a week. Then I got to know that Jan 02 is the last date to pass for MCSA certification and it was also required at my goals (as most of the machines were Windows Server Network), so I gave my 100% towards that but did not pass all 3 exams. But cleared four Major Azure Cloud certifications (AZ-102, AZ-900, MS-900, AI-900, AZ-500, SC-900).
Then I again got stuck in an important project at work for 2 months, so after that, I again started for SecOps. Thankfully, Gul Iqbal allowed me to discuss the live classes and parallelly I started utilizing my InfoSec subscription as well. This time, things were making a little more sense to me and I covered both the programs in a short time.
I started reading books as I heard from many experienced guys that book reading is extremely important to pass the exams, which is true also. But my enthusiasm was dying and I was feeling sort of bored. As still, I was alone on my journey. There was nobody with whom I could share what I was learning, what are the challenges I am facing, not even my small accomplishments, etc.
Then one day, I came across the “6 months to cloud journey” plan by Gwyneth Peña-Siguenza and Rishab Kumar and also this concept of “Learning in Public“. I sincerely thank them both for sharing this as I do not know why and how, but this was working for me wonderfully. Maybe it appealed to me as I thought I can still make it all. But more importantly, I think it’s the details of the plan. Like what exactly you should do, what resources you should follow, what you can expect at every stage, and what are the projects you should/could make. Really wonderful, you can check it out: https://lnkd.in/gXrt8e_b. And also, I am fully confident that very soon I would be well versed in these technologies as well.
Life is a brief happening and it’s very beautiful. So, live it fully and enjoy every moment, even if you’re learning.
On my way to discovering Teaching!
I started work at a private company., as an Administrator. The place was packed with high-talented, highly-skilled Writers and lecturers. Being around them made me feel like a black sheep once again as my skills, although good, was not at par with theirs. The Co-founder of the company Mr. Jamalullah was super supportive of me and would always encourage me to realize my potential. About around that time, they sat with me and told me:
Atta, you are great at communicating with people and exploring things. I think you should consider the Teaching field instead of software development. You’ll do great at it!
In Oct 2020, I officially started my journey as a Technology Instructor and Associated with Microsoft, Cisco, and Udemy.
Pakistan government initiated a skill-oriented program named “NAVTTC” in 2020 and my mentor Dr. Kamran Taj (being a focal person of the program) recruited me as an Instructor due to my broader knowledge of international certifications and the number of projects, that I did in the past. I had shown great interest in the program and started taking labs, in the initial days of labs, I was not much confident to deliver the lab to all the students. As time passes, I furnished my teaching skills by lecturing a huge number of audiences. Now, I am a good presenter and engage the audience.
Towards Own Company
Basically, I’m a passionate enthusiast of Ethical Hacking and Penetration Testing. In my undergrad FYP, I have done a project for my university’s all webserver (55+) and discovered more than 80 vulnerabilities and then I exploited and remediate them. I also won the Best Project Award (1st prize) at my university.
After this, I applied for NIC (NEP for National Incubation Center Jamsoro) and got selected in the top 2nd in start-up ideas, so I worked there as incubatee and also did my job greatly there.
Recently, I Registered that start-up idea as a company (NanoTechx), alhamdulillah offering Penetration Testing (manually and Automatically), and Multicloud Security Consultancy. I started this from Failure to a Successful Company, because of my colleague Umm-e-Farwa and all NIC mentors specially Madam Oshita, Sir Aakash, and Sir Noman.
Achievement is associated with the targeted goals or aims in life. When we define our action in relation to something like a goal a task is created. A task when fulfilled is called an achievement earned. The struggle in life is the sum total of our achievements, success, failures, and mistakes. Therefore, my achievement, my success, or my accomplishment is the name given to my fulfilled goals. The failure, in turn, is the names given to my mistakes, my setbacks, and my loss. Every person in life has some achievements, accomplishments, rewards, and successes earned. At the same time mistakes, failures and setbacks as well.
So after getting inspired by introductory classes of my telecommunication engineering journey under the guidance of highly qualified professors at university, I was particularly interested in SecOps, Machine Learning for Security applications, sensor networks, Internet-of-Thing (IoT), Multi-cloud, and Antenna Design. For that, I started working on professional certification with Cisco, i.e., CCNA, CyberOps, and DevNet Associates after that interacted with the Microsoft platform and got a few major certifications, i.e., Microsoft Certified Azure Administrator Associates, Azure Security Associates, and Azure, AI and 360 Fundamentals along with Aviatrix Multicloud certifications. After completing these certifications, I was able to achieve MCT (Microsoft Certified Trainer), CCAI (Cisco Certified Academy Instructor), and Udemy Premium Instructor. Along with these all, I have been working on different research articles on emerging technologies. Furthermore, the extensive persuasion filled in me includes, working on Programming and Simulation using advanced versions of software, like MATLAB, Python, HFSS, MultiSim, GNS3, EVE-NG, and many such tools that thoroughly clarified my concepts with hardware implementation.
I have worked on a research project in my 7th semester on “Exploiting UoS Web Server and Enterprise Network Vulnerabilities with Penetration Testing”, and also being a student of last semester, I have submitted my Thesis/Final Year Research Project. Additionally, during my last internship, I worked on advanced networking projects in two leading telecom companies (i.e., PEL and Warid). In addition, while working on leading companies, emerging technologies inspired me to work on, and later on, I worked on a project titled “An Offensive and Defensive Technical Approach of 5G for IoT and cloud computing networks”. In this project, I developed two MATLAB Applications supported by python with fulfilling simulations via GNS3; one that finds the characters of a password on login and implements minimum login requirements, and another that generates munged passwords to ensure password hardening to perform network security hardening and monitoring.
Even though it has been a great and fruitful journey in my life, but I believe that’s just the beginning of success within limited resources. While I have been serving at Google DSC community as technical lead, IEEEXtreme as a core team member then after improving my leadership skills, I got a chance to work as a section lead for IEEEXtreme-15.0, Karachi Section. Moreover, I am part of a NAVTTC Technical training Centre supported by the Government of Pakistan, where I teach the people about scratch technical platforms and programming. I gave my best to get fruitful outcomes.
I aim to focus on and explore the new sets that help to understand user specifications; the ability to structure and design our own ideas and then implement them by fulfilling industry standards; and the ability to code and built software applications that can be helpful for the transformation of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry. I need to transform my ideas and make use of my problem-solving approach to become a good researcher that could help me to solve society’s problems in a better way.
Joining this field has made me embrace my true nature. Working and progressing in this field has enabled me to feel and recognize my life’s purpose.
In such a short time, I’ve managed to achieve exactly what I wanted to achieve all my life. Looking back, this all feels like a dream. Life takes many different turns to take you where you are meant to be. All you need is some self-belief and grit.
Most importantly “Be Consistent”
This is my story but it isn’t the end. Hope to have you join me on my journey as I progress further.