Driving a National Broadband Deployment - Tan Sock Cheng

Published 12 Sep 2019 by Isabelle Yuen

Sock Cheng, a Director in Fixed Network Strategy and Evolution shares with us about her impact in Singtel, as she relates her experience of driving the deployment of a national broadband network. 

Q. Could you share with us a meaningful experience that you had in Singtel?

A. I’ve had many meaningful experiences, but if I had to choose one, it would be the deployment of the National broadband network, in which I was made Project Manager (PM). It was one of the first and most memorable moments of my career till this day.

It’s not every day in your professional career that you get the opportunity to drive a national broadband roll out! Being a part of this team and learning to manage it is something that I am incredibly proud of till today. I could not have done it without the support of my teammates, and I might not have even gotten the opportunity to do lead a national project such as this one if it had not been for Singtel, a company with a multitude of opportunities for development. I am truly humbled and grateful.

Q. Did you encounter any unexpected situations throughout the course of this project? How did you handle them?

A. We encounter situations that surprise us every day; it’s a daily affair. Our experience during this project was no different. To name one, we were constantly bombarded with queries and issues raised by contractors. Learning how to manage each and every one of these issues helped me to develop into a better manager, not only a technical aspect of solving the issues, but also by developing my soft skills. Throughout this project, in addition to solving technical problems, I also learned to relate to some of the personal problems that our managers on the ground face. We worked alongside to resolve issues as they came, and through this, we were able to see things from other perspectives saw things from different angles, resolved subsequent issues in a similar manner. Going forward in this manner, we were able to complete our tasks in a way that is most effective and fulfilling to each member of the team. Upon reflection, I realise that the skills that I gained from being PM of the national broadband network deployment team continue to guide me in my job, even up until this day.

The biggest surprise I faced in this project was the demanding requirements of myself as a Project Manager to manage several projects like this. While it is certainly gratifying work as a PM, the demands can get overwhelming at times. We had to deal with the numerous contractor problems, issues that staff faced with processes, systems as well as complications that arise when communicating with customers. In the case of this project, our customer was the IMDA, and we had almost daily correspondence with them. It is a daily experience here that we have to manage the expectations of the various stakeholders with confidence, and collaborate to complete the necessary tasks as a team. I surely would not have been able to successfully see through the national broadband deployment without the cooperation and collaborative spirit of my team.

Q. What were your takeaways from this event?

A. If there is just one thing that I could take away from my time at Singtel, it would be the knowledge that learning never stops. We are in an industry that is highly competitive, not only in a domestic capacity, but on a global front as well, with many national OTT players joining the field. It is expected of us as Singtel engineers to be on top of things, and our duty as individuals to be able to contribute and add value to the company. Singtel encourages continuous learning, providing opportunities for employees to upskill and reskill, equipping ourselves with the newest relevant skills in the industry.

Q. What made you apply for a job in Singtel?

A. Back in the days when I applied for a job in Singtel, the many opportunities Singtel had to offer were very enticing. The national flag that it carried (and still carries today) was also a key factor in my decision to apply to join the company. As Singapore’s largest mobile network operator, Singtel is a very attractive employer to any engineer. We are fortunate enough to be given opportunities to partake in the building of our nation’s digital infrastructure, as well as chances to contribute to joint ventures around the globe, considering Singapore’s extensive reach into countries like Australia and India. As an engineer, we seek opportunities to be involved in building of infrastructure and connections, to aid people in having better communication and connection. Having the chance to do that at Singtel was really the biggest reason why I was drawn to the company.

Q. How do you aspire to contribute to Singtel in your current role in Networks?

A. As a Telecommunications company, Singtel emphasises a great deal on communication and connectivity. However, we are more than just a Telco. We are also a company that focuses on lifestyle, providing many services that are not limited to just connection or communication services, instead improving our customers’ lives in convenience and comfort. As a Networks engineer, I aspire to develop more products and services to bring about greater connectivity, and improve the lifestyles of all Singaporeans.

Q. How would you describe the team culture in your department?

A. My team is highly cohesive. We have members of all ages, ranging from the Merdeka generation to the Millennials (who are fresh graduates), and each of them have different qualities that they bring to the table, but are all equally valuable. The seniors have wisdom in the craft, accompanying their abundance of experiences, as well as having the ability to connect with different parts of the Singtel team. On the other hand, the young graduates have exciting new ideas that excite us and get us thinking about new ways to do things, creating and utilising new technology to improve productivity. This is a team that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. The winning team.

Interested in joining our Singtel Networks team? Discover how you can at Singtel@8George, 17 Oct 2019, 6pm to start a conversation. Register for the event here by 06 Oct 2019.

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