Movers & Shakers
Gain Insights from the industry's Best and Brightest
Ever wonder how the leaders of the Infocomm industry got where they are today? Watch this space and hear from the luminaries themselves what inspired them to join the Infocomm industry and what inspired them to join the Infocomm industry and what continues to drive them to excel.
TEY CHEE KIAT
Phoon Huat Pte Ltd
I would say stop trying to find a job that is like the one you had. Instead, be open to opportunities that come up. Then when you do attend an interview, be sure to communicate openly with your interviewer so that you can better assess if it is a job you can see yourself working at.
Can you give us a brief rundown of your career journey so far?
I graduated with a diploma in mechanical engineering and did a few jobs related to that. Subsequently, when a friend asked me to join him in the tech industry, I said yes. And I joined the then National Productivity Board. Along the way, I picked up a degree in IT and moved on to Creative Technology, where I stayed for 17 years.
You took almost two years before landing your current job at Phoon Huat. Why is that so?
Well, if it were up to me, I would have found a job long ago. But I would send out 30 applications, only to get five interviews. It gets a little depressing after a while, so I decided to sign up for courses while keeping a lookout for job opportunities. I also attended a few Workforce Singapore (WSG) career events where I found out about the Career Support Programme (CSP).
How is it like to work in Phoon Huat?
To be honest, working in Phoon Huat is very different from working at Creative Technology. Back in Creative Technology, we specialised in very specific domains and operated based on clear protocols and processes. Comparatively, the work scope is a lot broader and more fluid at Phoon Huat. Being a business with both distribution and retail operations, we sometimes need to provide tech support beyond work hours and on weekends.
VEEMAL GUNGADIN SHASTRI
Chief Executive Officer
“Always prioritise attitude over a perfect skills fit. If the person’s attitude is great, they can easily learn new skills or unlearn old ones. Chances are they can also add value to the general team dynamics by being a good team player.
How did GlobalSign.in come to hire Suguna?
We were looking for a full- stack developer and a Customer Success Engineer. Then it so happens that we came across the Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) and got connected with the Institute of Systems Science at National University of Singapore (NUS-ISS) who offered to help. After looking through their pool of students enrolled under the PCP, we shortlisted about 15 candidates to attend interviews and sit for a technical test with us. From the onset, it was clear that we wanted a person who is not only technically sound, but also has the right attitude to grow together with the team.
But Suguna hasn’t worked for 20 years. Weren’t there any doubts?
Well, as with any hiring, you can never be fully certain whether anyone is really right. And of course, knowing that Suguna has not worked for 20 years, we were concerned whether she will be able to adapt to working life – be it the pace of work or her ability to work well with the team. Furthermore, in Suguna’s previous professional career, she had never taken on a customer-facing role before. However, as a Customer Success Engineer, she will have to play a critical role in working with customers and ensuring that projects are successfully delivered.
Was it helpful that Suguna was in the PCP?
Certainly. With established training partners like NUS-ISS supporting various PCPs, it gives employers like us confidence in the skills and quality of candidates. That said, we recognise that the training duration under the PCP may not be sufficient to train someone to become really proficient skills-wise. That is why, beyond PCP, we actively encourage Suguna to sign up for other courses that can help her in her course of work.
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“The future depends on what you do today”. The best moment to act is now, so what’s your next move?
Did you know that back in the 17th century, the word “computer” was used to refer to “a human being who calculates”? It is a far cry from our understanding of the word today. And like how the meaning of “computer” has changed over the years, the definition of work is also undergoing a rapid shift with the arrival of Industry 4.0. Question is, how can we keep our career growth on track regardless of the changing times?
Actually, the phenomenon of change is nothing new. Over the course of history, human beings have continuously designed and produced machines to take over our work; the machines then went on to do the work of human beings. Accordingly, various predictions were made about the number of jobs that would be lost during each industrial revolution. Yet, human ingenuity has always resulted in the creation of more new jobs than the amount of workers displaced.
So even as we look at the shifts – both past and present – as disruptions, we should also learn to appreciate the demonstration of human resilience. Entering Industry 4.0, we can expect history to repeat itself – except, possibly at an increasingly faster pace.
Sure, we can choose to do nothing and simply look on as transformation unfolds, hoping that we will not be displaced. But why take the back seat when we can be in the driver’s seat to explore the many exciting new opportunities Industry 4.0 presents?
UNDERSTANDING THE FUTURE OF WORK AND ITS COMPLEXITIES
Importantly, we need to understand the complex changes that are unfolding in the world right now. And these changes are not just about using computers to complete tasks faster. One example is the proliferation of artificial intelligence in recent times. Machines have started to take over problem solving and analytics tasks.
Human-machine partnership is here to stay. Instead of fearing the change it brings and rejecting its adoption, why not use humankind’s best skill – adaptability – to embrace and move forward with it together.
Commonly, there are two extreme views to the changes that are happening – pessimistic with a quasi- certainty that we will all end up unemployed; or optimistic, that AI will solve most of our socio-environmental problems. The truth is likely to be somewhere in between.
Human-machine partnerships have existed since the machine age. The difference is that the current pace of technological innovation has increased human reliance on technology more than ever. Fortunately, our ability to adapt to new technology has also been evolving. We have gotten better at leveraging machines and new technology to help us in our day-to-day tasks. With all things in perspective, what’s next for the human-machine partnership? And how will it affect our work lives, careers, and jobs?
RECOGNISING THE VALUE OF DIGITAL DISRUPTORS
Looking into the future, workplace success is likely to be dependent on our ability to build systems which are well integrated with mega digital ecosystems. As it stands now, major cloud service platforms like Amazon Web Services, Azure and Google Cloud are already disrupting businesses in ways that were unimaginable a few years ago. In the same vein, they are also accelerating hybrid human-machine experiences at an unprecedented rate.
Notwithstanding quantum leaps in data centre server computing power and data management capabilities as well as the mass proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT), rapid maturing on the augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technological fronts also offer powerful and interactive human- machine collaboration.
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Education or Automation: Which Comes First?
My friends and I had studied together. After graduation, we moved to different corners of the planet but kept in touch. The recent career moves these two gentlemen made, say a lot about the promises and perils of automation at work.
DIFFERENT JOBS, SAME WORK
One of my friends recently left his job at an established company where he led a small team to join a tech startup where he works alone. To my surprise, he mentioned that the nature of his work hasn’t changed much. He explained that the same tasks he used to ask his subordinates to help with are now handled by a suite of tools that his more technologically enabled startup has developed.
My other friend has just opened a small retail business that sells quality culinary supplies. Unlike his parents who employed several people, my friend does his business alone. I asked him how he manages to juggle the operations, to which he replied – his bookkeeping app keeps his books for him, his email and customer relationship management (CRM) tool push sales,
and all marketing activities are supported by user-friendly digital platforms. According to him, his small operation generates more revenue than his parents could ever imagine.
EDUCATION > AUTOMATION
In both examples, emerging technologies have enabled them to do more and better work faster. However, even as automation enables them to express their ideas in new ways, education appears to be the common factor that drives future success.
In fact, my first friend told me that he would gladly hire and train his former team when his company grows bigger. Similarly, my other friend doesn’t think he will work alone forever. As the business grows, he envisions that he will require people with deep domain expertise in technology, sales, and marketing. My entrepreneurial friends are optimistic about the future of work. And it is apparent that they are basing their positive outlook on training programmes they are building, in anticipation of their business growth.
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SCS Splash Awards 2018 Shines Spotlight on Artificial Intelligence Applications
Into its 15th instalment, SCS Splash Awards 2018 challenged students to apply artificial intelligence (AI) to projects benefitting community- building, education, family & lifestyle, healthcare as well as transport, logistics & communications.
Adrian Chye, Chairman of the Splash Awards Organising Committee said, “The Splash Awards is organised by students for students, and the theme ‘AI Innovation’ was chosen because we saw strong interest from students to learn more about the technological and applied developments in AI. To facilitate this flagship event, SCS had brought in industry partners. And the outcome had been rewarding with the receipt of several high- quality submissions, which are both innovative and potentially ground- breaking.”
During the four-month long competition, more than 40 training sessions were conducted for interested students. At the end of which, close to 200 entries were received for the SCS Splash Awards.
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Forum Sparks Conversation about the Future of Work in the Digital Age
“Mindless agility creates an open and relentless attitude that promotes active cooperation. This same agility also inspires outstanding innovation for continuous development and sustainable growth.”
The 4th Industrial Revolution is rapidly unfolding; and many industries and professions are expected to change more in the next 10 years than in the last 50 years. Recognising that readiness for change is key to navigating the future of work, this year’s Tech3 Forum directed the discussion on “The Future of Work in the Digital Age”.
Engaging IT professionals as well as professionals from other industries and professional bodies, including the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF), Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF) and Singapore Academy of Law (SAL), the Forum featured a strong line-up of speakers and panellists – Charlie Ang from Everything40.com, Lai Shanru from ShopBack, Prof Annie Koh from SMU, Jocelyn Chng from JR Group, Arthur Chua from Goldbell Group, Toby Koh from Ademco Security Group and Charlton Ong from Singtel. Mrs Josephine Teo, Minister for Manpower, also honoured the event with her presence.