Seasoned Driver with Passion for Computers Turns Web Developer


This story is published in collaboration with Generation.

Having spent six years of his life on the road as a driver, Gazali Ahmad was bored. Even at 53, he knew that there was purpose to his fascination with technology—and he was done letting it go to waste.

Prior to driving, Gazali was a civil engineer, an insurance agent, and a creative-thinking trainer for primary and secondary school students. Even though he had dabbled in so many industries, after driving for so long, he was once again hungry for growth and a career change.

That was what fueled him to make that first move toward a skills upgrade. And as fate would have it, his former employer, Grab, happened to be promoting Generation Singapore. So he applied and successfully got into a full-stack developer course, which helps enrollees build both the front end and the back end of a website. 

Generation is a global nonprofit that partners with employers to reskill workers for new, in-demand roles, either at their current workplace or in a different industry or employer all together.

Age is not a barrier 

“I was initially afraid, worried about my age. Would I be able to cope like someone younger—even though I’ve been familiar with computers for over 30 years.”

However, during the training bootcamp, thanks to the support of his instructor and peers, Gazali proved himself to be just as capable as the younger ones in applying himself and his knowledge to the tasks at hand.

His secret? “You must have a passion for what you’re doing because ultimately, curiosity drives you forward.”

A career and perspective switch

His mentor made him see the soft skills that he had acquired through his varied job experiences worked to his advantage. He realized that he did not need to be exactly like the other applicants with years of IT experience.

Instead, he could be himself and use the new-found edge and mindset to his advantage during interviews. “I’m quite adaptable and can easily pivot to a new industry.”

In the same vein, “fruitful” was how he chose to sum up his apprenticeship with wellness company Calibrate, now Lexly, as he was able to take on many hats and play many roles from the front-end to the back-end. This helped upgrade his skills, including a brand new computer language within a month, with an area of expertise with which he could streamline his focus and ultimately build his career upon: data-driven back-end tasks.

Looking back 

“Generation’s support is tremendous. They did not only teach us programming skills but also soft skills, which I apply in my current work. The last time when I graduated from poly, after giving the students’ diploma, they will let you find your own job. But with Generation, they supported us in many ways; securing mentors, apprenticeship, until we got full-time jobs,” he shared.

He was so satisfied with the program, he even referred his son to enroll for the next cohort.

Looking back, he is thrilled that he took the plunge—especially now that he has finally settled into a job that he truly enjoyed. He has one advice to his fellow midcareer switchers—“when you feel like giving up, don’t. Commit to it 100%!”

“I’m really happy where I am right now. This is what I’ve always wanted to do,” he said.

This article was first published by Generation.