Rachel Ang, Senior Deputy Director, Social Service ICT, Ministry of Social and Family Development, Singapore

By Medha Basu

Women in GovTech Special Report 2020

How do you use technology/policy to improve citizens’ lives? Tell us about your role or organization. 
I am a Deputy Director from GovTech’s Services Group who is forward deployed to the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF). At MSF, I oversee the strategic development, product management, and digitalisation efforts of the Social Service Sector ICT (SSICT) Master Plan which aims to enable the Singapore Government and its social service partners to provide coordinated and integrated service delivery to the community through technology adoption.
A lot of my work directly impacts the most vulnerable groups in society whose needs are multi-faceted, so ensuring a strong integration between policy, business and technology is of the utmost importance.
Under the SSICT Master Plan, we have made secure and responsible data sharing a priority and have witnessed how doing this right helps uplift those at the frontline along with those whom they serve. As our product offerings continue to develop and grow, it is our goal for Government aid to become increasingly accessible through inclusive omni-channel experiences for all segments of society.
What was the most impactful project you worked on this year?
Covid-19-related financial assistance application, processing, and disbursement platforms  such as the  Temporary Relief Fund (TRF) and Covid-19 Support Grant (CSG).
Within a short span of less than a week, our team rolled out the TRF platform to provide one-off interim assistance for Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents who either lost their jobs or a substantial portion of their income due to Covid-19. We also developed the CSG platform to help Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents who are unemployed due to retrenchment or contract termination as a result of the economic impact of Covid-19.
GovTech’s Agile, Bold and Collaborative values were truly exhibited during this pandemic situation. We adopted an incremental approach to development as requirements were constantly refined. The flat structure of our cross-functional Agile team allowed for the fast transmission of new information, and daily standup meetings kept the team in sync, working towards a shared goal.
All these were possible because of a cohesive mindset amongst GovTech colleagues who believe in our common goal to help citizens in need. Everyone in the team worked tirelessly for 12 to 15 hours a day, seven days a week, to develop and roll out the two platforms. Despite the challenging timelines, our team functioned effectively in collaboration with other government agencies, partners, and various business units to serve citizens in an effective manner during COVID-19.
What is one unexpected learning from 2020?
This is an eventful and unexpected year, with the biggest difference being confined to working from home most of the time. The initial discomfort turned into an opportunity when I “chanced upon” the oven. I decided to learn how to bake (something I’ve never tried before). Following YouTube videos, I baked my first batch of crispy chewy chocolate chip cookies (akin to Mrs Fields) and have kept going ever since. Thanks to my family and friends for their kind compliments and devil-may-care appetites!
What tool or technique particularly interests you for 2021?
I’m interested in product analytics tools and techniques that allow us to analyse how users interact with and experience our products. The data and insights distilled are important in helping us better empathise with our users, including their unarticulated needs, and serve as important levers that aid our everyday decision-making on what to build and how we should build it.
What are your priorities for 2021?
The past year has been a whirlwind of events and I am looking forward to helping my team prioritise time for learning through creating new structural support and opportunities for them. While there are always new ideas and products in the pipeline, I would also like to dedicate time in developing our DevOps maturity to achieve even greater customer experiences.
What advice would you give to women looking to start a career in GovTech?
Do it! GovTech is a great place to learn, grow and contribute to public sector innovation. If you’re unsure, participate in events (online platforms are one way to start), speak to other women in tech and find a good mentor to look up to.  It’s important to always keep an open mind, believe in yourself, stay adaptive, and follow the wise saying “Think Big, Start Small, Act Fast”.
Write a message for your future self.
Live your dream. It’s never too late to learn and try new things.