“There is so much to learn, it is a world of opportunities. It doesn’t matter your age or gender. I started my journey in IT at age 23, which some might view as too late, but always remember that education has no cut off age.”
In her second year studying law at The University of South Africa, Kutlwano had a bright future. But then disaster struck when her sister lost her eyesight, and subsequently her job. Kutlwano was forced to drop out of school to look after her sister, while her mother struggled to pay the medical bills and support the family financially.
“It was only after my sister’s passing in 2013 that I was able to go back to school,” she says, but at this stage there was no money to support her studies.
“My uncle heard about an opportunity being offered by TCM Academy through The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund for disadvantaged learners who wished to start a career in IT, but could not afford to, and that’s how I got in,” she says.
A new start
While IT had not been a career goal, Kutlwano believes in using all opportunities as stepping-stones, and her uncle thought it would be a good challenge for her while waiting for another opportunity to get back to law school.
“I didn’t have any IT background,” she says, “so for me it was a fascinating challenge. The tutors were very patient and helpful in how they delivered the lessons in a way we could all understand.”
“We used real devices to create real-life labs and environments to build our skills which were beneficial to add to our experience,” she says. “I ended up graduating as one of the top students!”
A world of opportunity
As a result, Kutlwano was selected by TCM Academy to attend Cisco Live! in Berlin, as one of their representatives.
“I met and networked with so many people that I had always seen on Cisco blogs and social media pages and that was when I truly started believing that opportunities are endless and that can only be the beginning of great things in my career,” she says. “To this date some are still my mentors and offer career guidance, especially being a woman in a widely male-dominated industry.”
After her studies, Kutlwano started as a Desktop support technician, and then progressed to IT Administrator, Network Engineer trainee, Cybersecurity Analyst, Network and Systems Engineer, and is now a Consultant in Risk and Compliance, all for some of South Africa’s biggest companies.
“Because of my technical experience, it makes understanding the Laws and regulations in IT a lot better, thus helping me to make informed decisions,” says Kutlwano. “I am still new in risk and compliance, but who knew that the Networking Academy would be my way back to law and governance?”
Helping women in tech
Kutlwano is proud of her achievements as a woman in tech. “In my previous job as a Network and Systems Engineer, I was the first and only female to be hired for that position in our Infrastructure division,” she says.
“I pride myself because I really had to work hard in proving that women can achieve in this role and get the job done. Even though I left, I know my hard work has paved the way for future women engineers wishing to join that space. I will forever be grateful for that opportunity. It is the proudest moment in my career.”
Kutlwano is thankful to Networking Academy for the opportunities it has given her. “There is so much to learn, it is a world of opportunities. It doesn’t matter your age or gender. I started my journey in IT at age 23, which some might view as too late, but always remember that education has no cut off age.”
“It all started with Cisco Networking Academy,” she says.
Explore more inspiring success stories at netacad.com/careers/success-stories.
Ready to begin your learning journey? Explore all of our courses.