Early Careers, Singtel Management Associate Programme, Diversity & Inclusion

Full-time coding wizard, part-time pastry chef - Xia Yingyu

Published 25 Mar 2020 by Sandra Au

Yingyu has a quirky, free-spirited character, which makes her tech-heavy role somewhat incongruent with her disposition. Being the second youngest member in her team and a minority in a traditionally male-dominated space notwithstanding, Yingyu’s passion and zeal is what makes her an individual who’s hard to miss.

Manners maketh the man, a team makes the (wo)man

“I’ve met excellent mentors,” Yingyu affirms, “their passion is infectious.”

“Lechee Lai from the NCS Communications Engineering for instance – I first got to know him when I was a product manager. It was his passion for engineering and depth of knowledge which helped to inspire and rekindle the engineer in me.”

“And who can forget Sagin Hsu – he’s the technical director of the Embedded Software Engineering Team and an inventor at heart. He comes up with refreshingly innovative ideas, it’s a joy to work with him.”

A great team is what differentiates and elevates your work experience. Having experienced different work environments in more traditional, hierarchical companies, Yingyu relishes having her ideas heard and an overall collaborative approach to tackling any project or solution. Whether it’s working with the Hong Kong office or her team in Singapore, she points to open communication flows and the patience to work through mistakes and learning points as valuable traits for any organisation.

“One of my fondest memories with the team was taking a cross-border coach to Malacca for our annual retreat. It was lovely of our colleague to host us in his own family home, we had a great time playing board games and eating our way through Malacca town.”

A place where ideas and innovation flourish

In her current field of expertise, Yingyu specialises in video analytics and the development of new features for video projects.

One memorable project involved automating the operations of a cruise terminal and enhancing the compound security. Through the use of video analytics gathered from closed-circuit television footage, she and her team helped clamp down on illegal taxi touts who would try to prey on unsuspecting tourists arriving at the terminal. Having been pre-identified, these recalcitrant touts (who thought they were being so sneaky) would be flagged once they were caught on any CCTV in the compound, and be asked to leave the premises.

Yingyu recalls how working in a team which feels like family becomes especially important during crunch time. Back in 2017, she had the opportunity to present one of Singtel’s innovative solutions to then Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean at the opening ceremony of the Singtel Cognitive and Artificial Intelligence Lab for Enterprises.

With the media’s lens trained on her and her team, it was a daunting platform for them to open the first showcase of their video analytics security product, capable of alerting security officers through a chatbot upon identification of blacklisted personnel. Fortunately, her teammates were nothing short of encouraging and gave her the extra boost of confidence needed to deliver with aplomb.

Breadth and growth

As an alumnus of Singtel’s management associate programme, Yingyu is glad to have had the opportunity to feel the ground and to gain experience in both customer-facing as well as backend roles.

“I started out as a radio engineer, then moved to a more front-facing role as presales and subsequently product manager. But ultimately my heart was in programming. I knew I wanted to code again,” she confides.

Not one to shy away from putting her money where her mouth is, Yingyu promptly enrolled herself in the National University of Singapore for a part-time Masters programme in Computer Science, after almost three years without coding.

Still, her career trajectory might seem somewhat atypical. With job-hopping every 2-3 years being the new millennial norm, Yingyu is almost an anomaly for having been with Singtel since graduating from university. She credits the autonomy and privilege of trying different roles and areas of interest as a huge plus factor.

“I’m immensely grateful for the vote of confidence that Singtel has given by exposing me to a breadth of different functions. The flexibility demonstrates their belief in me to explore my passions and interest to see what best capitalises on my strengths.”

When she's not thinking and writing in code, the coding wizard is equally skilled at piping gorgeous rose buttercream frosting and creating equally intricate latticework on pies and pastries.

“I’m lucky to be born in this generation where gender opportunities are not as disparate as previous generations,” she asserts.

She half-laughingly exclaims “In another life, I might have been a pastry chef!”

“I hope companies continue to support women’s professional pursuits and enable them to defy stereotypes and have an equal chance to shine.”

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