When I was young, I never thought that I would end up working in tech, or what the older generation describes as “IT”.
My ambitions were quite different. I wanted to be an artist; scientist; psychologist or a journalist.
Perhaps, it was my misconception of the industry.
I thought of people in the technology sector as the guys who helped you when your Microsoft Powerpoint hanged. Or, the old-school type that we see in most of the civil service who dealt mostly with on-premise solutions.
Till today, when I tell the older generation that I work in “IT”, they assume that this is my job.
Furthermore, it was not the top choice of my peers when I was in university.
When I was studying at Nanyang Technological University, most of my school mates aspirations were more aligned to that of “Generation X approved occupations” – civil servant; bankers; management consultants; accountants; lawyers etc.
However, in Year 2, my network expanded and so did my perspective.
I took part in the Dragon100 Young Chinese Leaders Forum and joined Hub Singapore co-working space. This was where I met many youths studying in top universities across the world.
What I noticed from these new ambitious friends was that many wanted to join fast-growing technology companies, or start their own tech startup.
I knew that this group was much more driven to succeed and tend to pick up trends and best practices much earlier than others do. True enough, fast forward a few years, the leading graduates of each cohort would rather work in tech than finance.
From there, I decided to join the technology industry. Five years after graduation, I am still working in tech. Besides being a growing field, there are so many other important factors as to why I decided to join and stay in this industry.
1. My job enables me to help others
In my current role, I help small and medium businesses in Singapore drive greater revenue and save costs through digital transformation.
By helping SMEs, we are also helping Singapore’s economy. If you think about it, SMEs make up 99 percent of Singapore companies, contributing 50 percent of our GDP.
With our ageing population, Singapore is going to become less and less attractive to multinational corporations. However, a more vibrant SME scene will generate both growth for Singapore and jobs for Singaporeans.
Given that SMEs employ 65 percent of our workforce, employees benefit as well.
By investing in software, the administrative boring tasks that staff does can now be automated. Employees can focus on higher level strategic and creative tasks.
This enables them to build and develop more valuable skills and experience so that they can earn more money in their next job.
For instance, a marketing executive in an SME is probably bogged down with all the admin work such as gathering data to put into reports; running events; sending emails, etc. This is the type of work that many are not paid a lot for.
Imagine if all of these could be automated, the staff would then be able to focus on “higher level” tasks such as digital marketing analytics and ad spend optimization. This individual’s market value would increase so much more!
“Capitalism rewards things that are both rare and valuable.” — Scott Adams
2. Working in technology helps me future proof others and myself
Working in technology helps me futureproof others and myself.
I am not going to sugarcoat this but times are hard for PMETs, especially those in their 40s and above.
A total of 76 percent of all locals retrenched last year were PMETs. Only 63 percent of the retrenched found work within six months. The situation was worse for older PMETs with almost 68% of all retrenched workers were 40 and older.
Experts have attributed these trends to automation taking over the jobs of PMETs, and a mismatch between those looking for jobs and the jobs available.
Working in technology is one of the ways to help future proof myself.
The nature of technology is that it is constantly changing and almost every week, there are new developments. This enables me to be at the forefront of innovation and digital transformation.
For instance, in my previous role, I worked in social media analytics software company and had to stay updated on all the changes to news feed algorithms and latest industry trends and research.
Now, this has expanded beyond social media into every touch point of customer engagement.
As I am client facing, I can also help others do the same. Either through sharing the latest industry trends with clients or introducing new business applications to help them focus on higher level tasks; stay relevant and do their job better.
Of course, you do not have to work in technology to future-proof yourself. What matters is that you understand how technology is affecting your sector and what to do about it.
For instance, if you work in Human Resource, you need to understand how technology disruption is transforming the HR practice and the type of skills that will help you stay relevant in the future i.e. mastery of software such as WorkDay; LinkedIn Talent Solutions learning HR Analytics.
Besides technical skills, what is more important is the right mindset to learn continually and stay updated with the latest trends.
“Most of what people learn in school or in college will probably be irrelevant by the time they are 40 or 50. If they want to continue to have a job, and to understand the world, and be relevant to what is happening, people will have to reinvent themselves again and again, and faster and faster.”
— Yuval Noah Harari, author of Sapiens and Homo Deus
3. I rarely need to deal with dinosaurs internally
Since young, I absolutely hate rules that are senseless and not backed up by good reasons.
I would often question school rules that made no sense: Why can’t we wear socks below ankles? Why must our fringe be above our eyebrows? Why is my teacher conducting class this way when another approach would give us better results?
This continued at work and I still remember how frustrated I was in one of my previous roles where an admin auntie did not want to accept my claims from Uber and Grab because other aunties told her it was more expensive than traditional taxis.
I feel it is just the nature of many Singaporean to fear taking risks; to follow the rules without questioning and to fear change.
In the technology sector, perhaps because many of these companies were young, I found that people were different and more like me.
They thought out of the box; did not do things because “that is the way it has been done” and always thought of the method that delivered the best long term and short term outcomes.
Naturally, I felt more comfortable working in such an environment and was able to thrive better and deliver more results.
Then again, not all technology companies are like that. I think a big part of it depends on your boss. There are still many people in Generation X who believes a model employee is one who comes before 9 and stays after 6, or who agrees with everything he or she says.
It also depends on your organization. You can call yourself a technology company but if you are still using paper clips, physical signatures, glue and paper to process claims and expenses… then perhaps it may just be an aspiration.
4. Many technology companies have great benefits and culture
Technology is a field where there is a high demand for talent. Due to competition for talent, firms tend to treat employees really well and create a great culture to retain and attract employees.
Take a look at the top 10 employers in Singapore (above), 6 out of them are technology companies. The numbers have stayed pretty much consistent for the past few years.
They may also offer more perks such as equal maternity/paternity leave; 20 days of annual leave, flexible working arrangements and stock options. In fact, AirBnB who gives staff a travel allowance of $2,000 towards their holidays.
Some studies fear that giving more benefits and flexibility can encourage laziness. However, that is not the case.
According to one study by PGi, 82 percent of telecommuters reported lower stress levels and 80 percent of employees reported higher morale when working from home
In addition to greater productivity, such measures can encourage loyalty and going the extra mile.
When an employee feels like a relationship is transactional, meaning to say “I am here to exchange my labour and output for a monthly wage”, they will draw a clear line between work and life.
However, in situations where I felt like my company and boss has done quite a lot for me, I feel motivated to stay late or even do some work on weekends willingly and without any complaints.
Then again, not all tech companies have great culture and I urge you to do your due diligence online before applying.
What some have observed in the tech scene is the false promise of meaningful work to young people who desperately want to be doing meaningful work, but who are really just making a couple of people very, very wealthy.
The “cult-like” culture makes it easy to exploit millennials who are underpaid and overworked, while all of the IPO gold goes straight into the pockets of VCs and the management.
5. Tech companies tend to be progressive
In general, most technology companies tend to be more liberal and as a result, have a more progressive culture.
I believe this is because firstly, many technology companies global headquarters are located in liberal places such as California.
Furthermore, a technology company’s employees also tend to be highly educated and there’s a correlation between education and progressive political views.
As a result, discrimination frowned upon and many strive to uphold equal rights, equal pay and equal opportunity.
Due to support from leadership, employees can openly discuss and champion issues that could be controversial in other companies such as LGBT issues; Women Rights and environmental concerns.
I used to think that this was not important. I thought to myself “I come to work to earn money, why do I need all these ‘extra’ things?”
However, I think it kind of instills a sense of pride when you see your company not just care about profits but also care about making this world a better place.
Of course, not all technology companies are like that. It really depends on the leadership of that organization.
The extent to which they champion such causes may vary. For instance, one company may simply send an email wishing everyone “Happy International Women’s Day!” or give out flowers and chocolates versus another who makes real change by closing the gender pay gap and giving the same parental leave regardless of gender.
Ending off, I am not saying you should work in technology but more of sharing my reasons on why I see myself in this field in the long term.
If you’re looking for an industry that’s growing, and one in which you can grow your career, I hope that you too would consider working in tech. 🙂