Gladys Tay, Deputy Director, Citizen Products, GovTech, Singapore

Women in GovTech Special Report 2016.

How do you use technology to improve citizens' lives? Tell us about your role or organisation. I lead the Citizen Products Team in GovTech. Our role is to use technology to implement products for use by citizens to improve their lives. Some of the interesting products we have rolled out include eCitizen, a whole-of-government portal that makes it easy for citizens to search for government information and services without the need to know which agencies are responsible for them; OneInbox, which delivers government letters to citizens electronically; ‘eCitizen Ideas!’, a one-stop portal that engages citizens for ideas to solve problems through a series of challenges and contests; and the ‘Ask Jamie’ Virtual Assistant that is able to answer questions by chatting with citizens. To ensure that no one is left behind, we have also worked with the Ministry of Finance to set up Citizen Connect Centres for the less tech-savvy or elderly citizens to make use of the facilities and get help to transact with the government electronically. What has been the most exciting thing that you worked on in 2016? The most exciting thing I worked on in 2016 would be the ‘Conversations-as-a-platform’ proof-of-concept where we explored the development of chatbots to connect with citizens on popular messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger, Skype and Telegram. It is exciting to me because chatbots are something very new and hold a lot of potential. Chatbots also has a special place in my heart as I am interested to see if it could be an effective channel in engaging the seniors, who may not be comfortable using the computer or the internet, but have embraced ‘chatting’ on the mobile phone. What tool or technique particularly interests you for 2017? We have embarked on using platform-as-a-service, docker technology and API gateway for one of our products and I am interested to see how the benefits associated with these technologies will pan out in 2017. If you were to share one piece of advice that you learned in 2016, what would it be? 2016 has been a particularly eventful year with many tenders to call, milestones to achieve, new systems to conceptualise, POCs to develop, events to organise and also multiple staff movements. My team took all these in their stride and even won two awards in the process. What I learned in 2016 is the power of teamwork and the value of delegation and empowerment. We are only as strong as our team and you can do better with your team than you can alone - clichéd but true. Who is your hero and why? I will be hard-pressed to name my hero, but I am inspired by ordinary people who rise above their situations or adversity to achieve something extraordinary. And finally, if you could recommend us one place to eat, where would it be? I would recommend Hot Tomato, a local brand for casual western dining with seven outlets in various malls. They are especially known for their steak which is very good and reasonably priced - you should try the Steak and Prawn.