Abedin Poonawala, 31, TAFE Queensland, Gold Coast Campus

Born and raised in India, Abedin has been rewriting code in his pursuit of a career in software. He completed his electronics and telecommunication studies in India before moving to the US at 23 to complete a Master of Business Administration – MBA, Information Technology Project Management. That led to another international move, this time to Queensland where he studied for a Diploma, Computer Software Engineering, at TAFE Queensland’s Gold Coast campus. Abedin graduated in 2019 and is now a full stack software developer with SecureStack, based in Southport.


Q. What led you to study software development in Australia?

Electronics and telecommunications was my second option as I didn't score well in the entrance exam for a software engineering college in India. While I was working as a computer system and network analyst in the US, my mentor told me that networking was a dying field and I should pursue my dream of working as a software developer. Then I started hunting for software development courses. 

Q. What made you choose TAFE Queensland on the Gold Coast?

The diploma was government approved and covered all the necessary subjects that I was looking for. It was also accessible to public transport and affordable.

Q. Can you give us a quick insight into your TAFE course and your work at SecureStack?

At TAFE, I met a lot of friends that I still go out with even today. Elan (Elankayer Sithirasenan), my professor, was a gem. He gave us all the freedom in programming and taught us all the necessary tools required for industry training. We got an opportunity to participate in a cybersecurity challenge, which was an immense learning experience. Overall it was a beautiful time at TAFE. I started my internship with SecureStack while I was at TAFE, then later my boss applied for my training visa and now I am on a working visa. I was the first employee at SecureStack and now we have more than five. Also, we are listed in the top 20 cybersecurity startups in Forbes.

Q. What do you love about your work?

Coding is something that comes naturally to me. I don't feel like it's work, it's like a hobby to me. So I guess everything about work I love. Our office is located in a coworking space. We play table tennis during our lunch breaks. Basically, perfect.

Q. How did studying on the Gold Coast shape your life?

It helped me understand myself better. The beach added some calmness to my life and I made heaps of friends. I joined a cricket club and now it's a major part of my life.

Q. What great memories spring to mind when you recall your year at TAFE?

Fridays in the spring, when the whole class used to go out for tasty beverages. And bushwalking with TAFE mates was one of the experiences that I cannot forget. Bushwalking in Australia is REAL bushwalking. It was full on.

Q. What would you say to someone who is considering studying on the Gold Coast?

For someone who is passionate about any profession or field, the Gold Coast has it all. They just have to put their head down and enjoy what they do. The idea is not to get carried away, but to keep focus on the dreams one has.