Marie-Antoinette, a french restaurant with girly and Marie-Antoinette style making in Singapore, is the place that Aryn chose for our lunch and pastries tasting.
After having been programming for more than 15 years as a C developer for payment terminals among other things, she currently works as a Software Engineer Team Lead in Singapore.
Let’s meet her and discover more about tech in Singapore.
I watched the movie The NET when I was young, and I was hooked by the possibility of being a female hacker like Sandra Bullock
How did you get involved in tech and programming?
I joined a Computer club (ELECOM – electronics and computer club) when I was in high school. Took a year long course where I learnt Turbo Pascal, Visual Basic and Access. My first class was taught to us without any computers, and I programmed in pseudo code. I was hooked thereafter.
We created simple projects, such as programming our own calculator. Created 3D simulations using 3D studio and created a 5 minutes MGD (Musical Graphical Display) which we charged students per view for $0.60 and it attracted a queue every year.
ELECOM provided me with an avenue to learn programming which was something we could not learn from the internet back then.
I have always been interested in computers, my father loved computers, even though his expertise were hardware instead of software. Our home used to have at least 3 computers at any one time, some of them in various stages of getting taken apart and put together. I was never a stranger to computers as a kid.
I watched the movie The NET when I was young, and I was hooked by the possibility of being a female hacker like Sandra Bullock.
We exchange stories of gender biases in our industry. All these made my career a much more easier challenge to face
I strongly believe in role models. I am sure that meeting inspiring persons can impact us and our career. Do you have role models, or something which inspired you?
My elder sister by four years, Daphne Choong, has been my role model. Even though she was not the instigator for me getting into programming. She has become a leading software engineer in her own right. And she has provided me with a lot of sound advices over the years of my career.
I still remember the first advice for my career, was to take a job only for a company where the software is part of the core profit of the organisation. This advice has served me well. Mainly for the reason that the company will more likely spend effort in improving the software department, and I would be able to learn more and progress as a result.
Other advices include and not limited to: advice about office politics, leadership and management issues, programming advances, technological opinions… We also exchange stories of gender biases in our industry. All these made my career a much more easier challenge to face.
I think it is very important to attend tech events, to keep up to date with the current trends, and have a better understanding of the local technological industry and market
How do you stay updated with tech?
In terms of keeping updated, I subscribe to Code Project, which has been my main source of the current trends of IT industry. Other than that, my sister and I occasionally exchange interesting links on Technological advances.
Last year, I relocated back to Singapore from New Zealand, and I was introduced to Meetup.com. And since then I have joined various meetups organized at the increasing technological giants’ companies that were set up in Singapore and Malaysia.
I attended different events such as Agile forums, Coding meetups, Hackathons, Entrepreneurs networking sessions, Tech Conferences… I also attended the DevOps conference 2015 as an ignite speaker.
I think it is very important to attend these events, to keep up to date with the current trends, and have a better understanding of the local technological industry and market. I learn a lot from these events, and they allow me to get in touch with the real world, and not just my own bubble, which can happen very easily if I just stick to what I am good at.
My favorite event was when we got together to collaborate on creating an open source project with various ladies in tech, with Women Who Code Kuala Lumpur. It was a lot of fun to create a non critical project, which is interesting and enjoyable to play with. Getting ideas and feedback from fellow tech savvy girls about a technological project was quite refreshing, and not easily found.
Many initiatives exist in France to learn coding. Now people with different backgrounds, I mean without any knowledge in science or computer science are learning code. Some people change their job to start learning code after 30 years old. What about Singapore?
Yes, very much so. In Singapore, the government has been encouraging entrepreneurship. And most of these up and coming entrepreneurs quickly realize that learning how to do programming would be very useful for a start up in this information age.
I have met more people wanting to learn how to code than people who learnt how to code professionally in meetups and networking sessions.
There are also a lot of initiatives and groups catered to teaching how to code, most of them offer courses to the general public. General Assembly is one of them; and TechLadies is one that focus on ladies.
In France the “Digital world / market” is became a very important topic for the government and education. Government has for example launched a special program, called “digital school” to democratize code learning. What about Singapore?
For Singapore, the government has dedicated resources to setup a group for information and design: IDA Labs.
There is also an initiative to teach programming in public schools, both primary and secondary schools, as part of the student’s curriculum.
How is the market in Singapore? Is it easy to find a job?
Yes, it is generally quite easy to get a job as a programmer in Singapore. Mainly due to the huge demand for programmers.
I get a lot of calls from recruiters in the few months that I was unemployed. Generally for various sectors, and demand for various programming languages that I may or may not have the experience/expertise in.
Can you say in few words, what being a developer means for you?
Thank you Aryn!