Angeline Poh, Assistant Chief Executive (Content & Innovation), IMDA
Women in GovTech Special Report 2016.
How do you use tech to improve citizen’s lives? Tell us about your role or organisation.
Technology now touches all aspects of our lives, including the way we relate to one another and communicate our ideas and stories. This has led to innovation in the media sector, enabling creative talent to develop and deliver content to engage with new audiences.
One aspect of my role in the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) is to create an outlet for local stories via the production of Public Service Broadcasting (PSB) content. We are working with new online platform partners to extend the reach of PSB content beyond linear broadcasting to better serve Singaporeans who increasingly prefer consuming content on the Internet.
For a start, we worked with Toggle, Mediacorp's over-the-top video platform, to launch 11 Toggle Originals this year. These shows were produced by leading digital creators like Maker Studios and Tree Potatoes. We also partnered Singapore Press Holdings to produce and distribute digital programmes on their online platforms.
Delivering PSB shows through these new channels enables Singaporeans to enjoy local content at their convenience, and on their preferred devices. It also enables our content partners to derive insights from customer data to drive creative and business decisions to make even better shows.
IMDA's mission is to position Singapore and prepare Singaporeans for a future built on the convergence of infocomm and media. We will harness the opportunities arising from this convergence to power Singapore's economic growth, build an environment of trust for businesses and consumers, improve our quality of life and strengthen the bonds of our communities.
Singaporeans from all walks of life and all ages must be part of the nation's digital future. We have thus developed digital inclusion and outreach programmes to ensure that no one is left behind.
At the same time, a quality life enabled by infocomm media also requires discerning and responsible consumers and creators of digital content. To this end, we seek to raise public awareness of digital literacy by working with the Media Literacy Council on public education programmes conducted jointly with industry and community partners.
What has been the most exciting thing that you worked on in 2016?
If I can pick only one, then it has to be the launch of IMDA! After all, it isn't every day that one gets to be part of the pioneering team that defines a new organisation and what it stands for.
Likewise, this is an exciting time for infocomm media companies and professionals, because we are the generation that is shaping the future of our sector. What we do today and in the years ahead will dramatically change the way everyone lives, works, plays and learns.
What tool or technique particularly interests you for 2017?
Technology is interesting when it is applied in ways that make a difference to people. Virtual Reality (VR) has that potential and is already touted by some to be the most empathetic medium because it completely immerses you in the experience.
Today we see many VR applications for gaming, learning and industrial simulation. But I believe the full potential of VR will be unleashed when creative talent harness its power for narrative storytelling.
The award winning film Notes on Blindness is a great example of how VR can connect the audience with the story in a way that no other medium can. VR is used masterfully in this film to allow the viewer to experience blindness along with the protagonist who loses his sense of sight through the course of the film.
With the amount of attention that the technology is getting among directors and producers, I am certain we will see many more of such examples of powerful storytelling via VR in the near future.
If you were to share one piece of advice that you learned in 2016, what would it be?
I believe that we must challenge and stretch ourselves, because we will be surprised by what we can achieve when we do.
This year, I have seen this play out in so many ways. I am very proud of my team for rising to the challenge to develop and implement a plan to ignite Singapore’s media industry. The launch of PIXEL Studios for the local digital media industry is just one example of their vision and tenacity.
I have also seen Singaporean media talent excel globally because they pursued their dreams. These include filmmakers like Boo Junfeng and K. Rajagopal who did us proud at the Cannes Film Festival; television producers like Jean Yeo and Pedro Tan of Ochre Pictures whose drama series earned an International Emmy nomination; and Ian Gregory Tan and Brian Kwek of Witching Hour Studios who successfully launched their game after winning the Best Indie Game at the Tokyo Game Show last year.
Who is your hero and why?
As predictably as this may be, I am going to have to say my parents are my heroes. They laid the foundation on which I have built my life and career. I know the fact that my sister and I grew up in a stable and loving home is the result of my parents' dedication and the countless sacrifices they have had to make.
To this day, they support me in all of my choices and are always generous with their advice, but never imposing their views on me. They cheer me on when I push myself to take on new challenges. Above all, they have shown me what it takes to be a good leader, partner and parent.
And finally, if you could recommend us one place to eat, where would it be?
If I could, I would recommend my Grandma’s kitchen. She made sure I had a sumptuous lunch every school day when I was growing up. She made the best chicken curry, beef rendang and “flavourful steamed rice” – a special one-dish meal she whipped up for us on the first day of every Chinese New Year.
But perhaps the dish I remember most is her mashed potato with cheese, baked to perfection with a melty golden brown crust. This was practically all I ate for two whole weeks when I was down with chickenpox!
Grandma never referred to recipes as she seemed to cook based purely on instinct. But every dish was consistently good. Alas, my Grandma hung up her apron years ago and all I have are memories of the flavours and aroma of her cooking.
Image: Angeline Poh speaking at Unite Singapore 2016, an event that brought together the gaming community to learn from international experts and peers