Tell us about your background. How did you get to where you are now?
I am a User Experience (UX) Designer at the Data Science Division, with the Government Digital Services at IDA. I have been working on the Beeline project, a transport experiment powered by analytics, crowdsourcing and mobile technology.
Prior to joining IDA, I was an artist, creating and designing game art and interface for a PS4 game, ‘One Upon Light’, and facilitating a training programme for budding game developers at the Singapore University of Technology Game Lab.
I have always enjoyed creating stuff and that led me to explore art, design and animation in school. The process of making websites and games intrigued me on how and why things work beyond the digital space. My core motivation was no longer just aesthetics. I felt strongly about creating an impactful experience for users – solving problems and improving people’s lives. That is when I dove deeper into user experience design and design thinking to innovate and solve problems that users face. With that in mind, I began to look for opportunities that will fit this aspiration.
Why did you decide to join the public sector?
When exploring new opportunities that leverage design and tech to solve real life challenges, I met the data science team at IDA and was introduced to the multiple projects that they were working on. From developing tools to recommend locations to building new amenities based on geospatial data to analysing travel patterns and journey time, I was energised by how much data can allow us to understand and facilitate the planning of the public space.
“Concepts that serve the public good do not necessarily make commercial sense”
I’ve also learnt that concepts and products that serve the public good do not necessarily make commercial sense. Instead, it may be more sensible for the public sector to invest in such endeavours. It could be making public services more accessible as we transition into an era that relies more on technology. It could also be how Singapore, by understanding data and existing behaviour patterns, can better utilise resources in the long run – a challenge that many cities face today. Being able to work on possibilities and solutions to benefit citizens aligns with my aspiration.
What is the best thing you have experienced in your career?
Working with a highly motivated, cross-disciplinary team at the Government Digital Services has been an inspiring experience for me. I have learnt so much from everyone, from the data scientists, developers, project managers and other designers. There are always some ideas being thrown around and often new ideas look crazy at first. Here in the team, we work together to build cool functional tools and visualisations to address a wide range of problems. There is something new to learn about every day.
What is the toughest challenge that you have had to face and overcome in your career?
The team started developing Beeline early this year. The app was launched in late July and routes started running in early August. From a concept to its existence as a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) with real buses plying the road, it has been an exciting learning adventure for me. We are super psyched that the public cares to give feedback and suggestions to improve the platform. At the same time, it is also challenging to dream and shape the next steps for this platform and how it may possibly impact the future of how people commute. It is a game changer and it is scary to think that we might disappoint some people depending on the decisions we make as we continue to develop Beeline. We have to think of ways to scale the platform and experience, and also learn to cope with operating a live system.
What is the most inspiring example that you have seen in your working life?
There are many. One of the biggest turning points for me was when I attended a talk by Jin Zwicky, Vice President of OCBC Experience Design team and she shared how OCBC improves their banking experience with more user-centred design methods. Financial services can be engaging and need not be complex. The same applies for public service and many other functions that are performed daily. Technology is increasing becoming powerful but let’s not forget that that people are the main reason we design and build these systems.
What advice do you have for other women looking to succeed in GovTech?
I’m always learning, and being new in the industry, I may not be at a level to advise. But if I could advise a younger me, I would definitely advise her not be afraid to try new things, and not be afraid to join computer and robotics clubs in school just because they are full of boys talking about things I don’t understand. For now, I will continue to adopt this attitude to constantly learn from doing and iterating. There is a lot of need for user empathy in technology and in government services. And I believe technology in general can benefit from more varied opinions and sensibilities.
And finally, how do you like to unwind after a long week at the office?
Indulge me in a green milk tea full of froth and I will be really happy. I also enjoy watching thriller movies with my husband and spending time with my family.