After working in the IT industry in his native Coimbatore, India, for almost a decade, Giridharan (Giri) Selvanathan had started thinking about his next move.
He already had a Bachelor of Science in computer technology and a Masters in computer science from his local university, Bharathidasan University, but after seeing first-hand a cybersecurity incident unfold at the organisation he worked for, his interest piqued.
“I had been working as a senior developer in India for a variety of IT organisations in the banking and financial sectors. During that time, I witnessed the Cosmos Bank malware attack, one of the biggest cyber attacks on an Indian bank, and immediately afterward I wanted to find out more – how these security breaches can happen and what we can do to combat them,” says Giri.
“I wanted to learn more about cybersecurity, and to study it in-depth. After researching options in New Zealand, where I was keen to move to study, I saw the University of Waikato was the only university that offered a dedicated qualification in cybersecurity, so my mind was made up.”
Giri came to New Zealand in 2019 to start a Master of Cyber Security at the University of Waikato, which boasts some of the best computing facilities in New Zealand and the opportunity to learn from award-winning cybersecurity experts.
Giri, who has been interested in computers since he was at high school, found the Masters programme interesting and relevant, with plenty of hands-on learning opportunities.
“I found all of my lectures covered topical information, so we were kept up-to-date with all of the changes in the industry, and we were able to see and work on real cyber threats.”
Giri says he “loved every nook and corner” of the University. “I lived across the road from Gate 2, so it was super easy to jump across to campus. I spent lots of time in the library, the student union building, the wellness hub, and most importantly, at the cricket nets with my Star Varsity cricket club!
“As an international student, from day one I found that everyone was really welcoming, and I made some really close friends during my time at Waikato.”
He also worked part-time during his studies as a security consultant and web developer for a small business in Matangi, on the outskirts of Hamilton, and as a student tutor in the computer science department.
Following his studies, Giri completed an internship for leading investment and advisory group, Jarden, in Wellington in 2020.
Unfortunately, due to Covid and the borders closing, he returned to India to be with his family. He has since started a remote role with global insurance provider Allianz Singapore, as an information security manager.
But he’s ultimately looking forward to returning to New Zealand, this time with his wife. “As soon as the borders are open I’ll be back – I love New Zealand and I can’t wait to return.”