May Liew, Vice President, Innovation, SP Group, Singapore

By Chia Jie Lin

Women in GovTech 2018 Special Report.

How do you use technology/policy to improve citizens’ lives? Tell us about your role or organisation.

At SP Group, we aim to use cutting-edge technology to empower our customers to save energy and cost. The energy industry is undergoing fast and furious changes; my role at SP Group involves making sense of the shifting industry dynamics to enable us to anticipate and react to these changes.

We embrace new technologies by partnering with external solutions providers, including promising startups. These technologies enable us to optimise our network operations and efficiencies, and will allow us to provide value added solutions to our customers.

What has been the most exciting thing that you worked on in 2018?

Blockchain has been emerging in recent years as a potential game changer in the energy industry as we increasingly evolve into a new sharing economy that is more decentralised.

This year, we successfully launched a new blockchain based product, one of the world’s first in the energy industry. The SP Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) Marketplace is designed to offer seamless and automated trading for consumers and renewable energy originators from all around the world to buy and sell RECs easily through our blockchain powered platform.

This enables a more transparent marketplace, encouraging more green producers and supporters, from multinational corporations to homeowners to advance their sustainability objectives, and take part in this green movement. This fulfils our mission to reimagine sustainability with EnergyTech.

What are your priorities for 2019?

In 2019, we will continue to embrace EnergyTech and other cutting-edge technology to develop new ideas to provide our customers with innovative green solutions. SP Group seeks to be an active participant in driving sustainability solutions for all including corporates and individuals.

What is one skill that has helped you the most throughout the course of your career?

Keeping an open and learning mind and being always ready to accept changes has helped me navigate the different facets of my career. My career has taken me across numerous pathways in different fields and countries. It has taught me resiliency and to appreciate the learning journey rather than just focus on predetermined outcomes.

This is an important skill in my job at SP Group to keep an open mind to explore new technologies and potential collaborations as there may be several pathways to achieving the desired outcome of meeting our customers’ needs.

What advancements do you predict will happen in your field in the next ten years?

The energy industry has been disrupted by decentralisation, decarbonisation, deregulation and digitalisation. We are moving from a one-way power system into a two-way bilateral flow of electrons. More electricity consumers will become ‘prosumers’, generating their own electricity through renewable energy sources such as solar.

This will fundamentally change the way we produce and consume electricity going forward. This is already taking place, but technology will likely develop further to make it more viable and scalable in time to come.

Coffee, yoga, music... what powers you through your day?

My job takes me to exciting innovation hubs such as Silicon Valley and Tel Aviv. I am on the go constantly as a frequent traveller. What powers me through my day, besides the adrenaline which my job brings, is my home in Singapore with my six-year old daughter. I enjoy my daily conversations with her, as the mind of a six-year old is so wonderful without boundaries.

Just the other day, she told me about a story she drew and wrote in school about how she turned into a ninja to save her parents who have been captured by an evil monster. She constantly reminds me to keep my imagination active.