Early Careers, Singtel Management Associate Programme

Where I Made My First Career Breakthrough - Kenneth Cheah

Published 26 Aug 2020 by Ramya Ramesh

If you need an energy boost, forget your daily dose of caffeine. Singtel’s Management Associate Programme (MAP) gives you the right amount to uplift your spirits.

Leading by example, Kenneth Cheah commenced his journey to a senior position via MAP. His vigour is something most people admire and appreciate!

Paddling in unforgiving heat, in work or otherwise

Contrary to the mental image of a geeky nerd when most people hear ‘data scientist’, Kenneth Cheah is quite the well-built and toned athlete. During the weekends, he can be found in a team of paddlers racing to the finish line on narrowboats, cheered on by cacophonous beating drums (we’re joking about the last part!).

Part of a Dragon Boat team that is full of energy and colour, known as Paddlers Against Limits, Kenneth takes part in competitive races regularly and trains actively on the weekends. Often called a ‘’gym junkie’’, he can be found in the gym after work, persistently building on his fitness for weekend training. His motto is that ‘’great gains take time and commitment’’.

This same energy and drive can be found in Kenneth’s work - he is a Senior Data Scientist as part of the Network Planning Product Team with DataSpark, a subsidiary of Singtel, that specialises in data analytics and mobility intelligence.

To him, MAP was a crucial step in deciding his vision for his career. He eventually settled down in DataSpark as he aspired to pursue a technical career, after having a small taste of them in his previous positions in Cybersecurity (Group Enterprise) and Operations (Group Consumer). He chose DataSpark in particular due to the opportunity to work with rich diverse assets and latest technologies which will enable him to deliver real impact to businesses and governments. Kenneth feels working in DataSpark is like ‘’opening a treasure trove in his hands’’.

A Day in a Life of a Data Scientist

‘’My days rarely lack excitement and challenges, both of which I welcome.’’

As part of the Network Planning Product team, Kenneth finds himself forced to the edge of his capabilities, in a good way of course. He juggles a variety of tasks daily; from supporting the deployment and pre-sales team during project phases to planning and building new features to meet customer needs.

Due to the complexity of the product, a small feature would require a lot more reworking of the code in order to achieve the goal. Kenneth is, however, thankful for the team effort to be able to identify a quicker fix to achieve the same results.

‘’Despite the many all-nighters that we pulled, it was an experience I would not forgo, as we brought the project to final acceptance. This marked our first of many successful deployments, and for the product team, finding our fit in the market out there.’’ Kenneth draws from his dragon boating experience; just as how synchronicity and teamwork is pivotal for a good race, working together with right dynamics is important to achieve a successful project.

Venturing out to Optus, Sydney

With the great 5G looming around the corner, Kenneth had the opportunity to join the DataSpark team in Optus, Sydney. He connected with key members of the Networks team in Optus and understood how their insights could possibly add value to their planning of a 5G network.

Work aside, Kenneth found it refreshing to see up close the Australian work culture, along with some really great coffee.

‘’While Happy Hour starts early on Friday evenings, the folks there really did nail down the whole “Work hard, party harder” thing down!’’ he excitedly shares.

It’s all fun and games

Kenneth was assigned to develop ice-breaker games as part of an offsite activity which he embarked on with his team of other ‘’newbies’’. One worry was how the folks at DataSpark would respond to the games session, worried that the long day prior may have tired everyone out. But this concern was put to rest when everyone jumped in to help out during their break times. This is what we call a collaborative spirit! The actual games revealed the teams’ competitive nature as they wrestled (not literally) to answer the questions.

‘’It was great to see how everyone really chipped in to help each other to achieve a common goal. It really made the entire trivia session a fun and engaging one.’’

Sage words of wisdom from Kenneth

There are some unique traits of being a data scientist. Kenneth shares some insights from his journey at Singtel.

‘’Problems are often not easily presented, and neither are the solutions. Thinking outside the box to translate user problems into a solution that can be solved with data is a key skill that you acquire over time.’’

That is the short and sweet rule for those who aspire to be a great data scientist. MAP provides you with the perfect opportunity to transform your passions into reality. Apply here for MAP 2021 - a programme that will make sure you find your rhythm and soar to great heights.

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