In Conversation with Malaysian Women in Tech #3: What we don't know about the industry
The final say
The start-up scene in Malaysia is actually pretty exciting, especially tech ones. At one point, did we all not see a huge burst of services we could easily acquire via a website or an app? Today, the "pioneers" have either evolved enough to monopolise the service they offer (read: Grab) or made way for budding tech-preneurs to dish their version with a twist. As consumers, we talk about it and we use these very services or apps. Why do we not talk about the people behind them? Especially the women.
And thus, this three-part series was born. There are a few known Malaysian names in the tech industry. Most of them are males. In a stereotypically male-dominated industry, it is important to talk about the minority who chose this path despite that very stereotype, and despite the common Asian belief that a real professional job is a doctor, lawyer or accountant. Today, the scenery is an evolved landscape. A skill in tech is just as handy.
Previously, the three Malaysian women who are working in the tech industry, and who we spoke to, revealed common misconceptions and the gender gap. Part two was for those who wondered about the average working day and potential courses to take (even those who are already working in an entirely different field). Last, but not least, this final part will have these three women share their thoughts on the industry (is it growing?), the flexibility of it, how an app is made, and more.
WHO ARE YOU?
WEI JIA CHEN
Head of Consumer Product
User Interface & Experience Designer
Mobile App Developer
Wei Jia: I'm currently Head of Consumer Product at Fave (by day), wife and mother of a two-year-old toddler (by night). I love living in the digital world (from using apps for transport, commerce, or entertainment) but have a strong appreciation for the great outdoors (mountains and the sea, I gravitate to them every chance I get).
|"Fave is your personal companion for finding the best deals and great meals on the go with FavePay. Available at thousands of your Fave-ourite restaurant and shops across Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. She has also previously worked on KFit"|
Sebastian: My name is Sebastian Wang, commonly known as the girl with a boy's name. My specialisation is Interactive Media Design. I'm currently working as User Interface & Experience Designer at Kurechii, a Malaysian-based indie game developer.
|"Kurechii has created a throng of exciting indie games which include King's League, Tiny Guardians and the award-winning role-playing game, Postknight. Sebastian is currently working on the upcoming King's League 2."|
Brenda: I'm Brenda and my life has revolved around technology since I was young. I learned how to use computers back when I was still in kindergarten! I've been working at Apptivity Lab as a Mobile App Developer for almost a year now and I strive to develop apps to help our community!
"Apptivity Lab is a bespoke mobile app creation company in Malaysia with quite an impressive portfolio of clients such as Digi, Sunway Pyramid and Axiata. Some of the past works include Vidi, Wanderclass and Grab."
The Malaysian tech industry is indeed growing but do you think more can be done to improve it?
I think the key to growth for now is to create an awareness of the successful tech stories—individual successes or startup successes—to encourage people to take part or take note.
Currently, it's great that we are adopting new technologies (such as Big Data, Machine Learning and Augmented Reality) to tackle on the problems of today. You can pretty much do anything with your phone: book flight tickets for a holiday, go on a shopping spree, and order food and have it delivered right to your doorstep! There are also a lot of essential services you can do: pay your bills or buy a parking ticket. But when creating these services, I hope that the industry is more conscious of the older generation and people with special needs so that they can benefit from it as well!
Give us the gist of the working life in the tech industry in Malaysia. Do you think it differs from the tech industry in other countries?
I don't think there is a huge difference. The local industry is growing to a point where people have started to see more potential in it, thus the higher chances of people wanting to educate themselves on it or learn a related skillset. But sustaining and surviving in the tech industry is still a major challenge.
Wei Jia, I loved your story on "Solo Female Syndrome" (SFS) and that transition to being a mother that was supported by your colleagues. They were open and supportive of your needs, especially when you put in the request or ask. Compared to traditional companies, would you say tech companies tend to be more forward thinking in being empathetic with their employees' needs to sustain a healthy working relationship? Or is it also because of the nature of the job that makes it easier for more flexible working hours / working remotely?
Definitely both. I believe that generally, tech companies foster a high sense of empathy to individuals that are different from themselves. People in tech are, by nature, disruptors, innovators and thinkers of the future—and are shaped to think beyond tradition and the norm. That openness was what enabled me to get the support I needed to work remotely through my pregnancy and even for a long while after. The beauty of a tech startup is the tech! There are countless project management and communication tools to support a collaborative remote environment. We definitely see productivity and results as something that doesn't need to be achieved with physical presence in the office space.
Speaking of these tools, Brenda, this one is for you. A lot of people enjoy using apps and trying different ones but most of them are likely unaware of the process of creating an app. What is the procedure usually like and how long does it usually take from conception to final product delivery?
That really depends on the type of app and the available resources. It's definitely a long process. In general, it starts off with an idea and what the app is trying to achieve. After many discussions, the concept and the objectives of the app can be structured into a list of requirements of what the app can do, which then starts the design process. Instead of jumping straight into designing what looks great, it starts off with sketches of the app, focusing on the requirements with the users in mind.
There's no point in having a great-looking app if the user can't do what it's supposed to achieve. After a long time working on the design, it is then passed off to development. Now, development is more than just creating the mobile app that users see. It's also designing how the data is structured, how the information communicates with the server and much more!
And on that note, let's end with your three favourite apps that you'd recommend to our readers!
Oh, that's tough! Being a Product Manager, I download apps all the time for inspiration (I have over 70 apps on my iPhone). If I have to pick, they would be...
1. Fave (for sure!) — It's a great app to save money and seamlessly pay via your mobile app. I always leave my wallet behind with the ease of FavePay.
2. Grab — It's so convenient to be able to get a ride in less than a few minutes whilst avoiding the hassle of finding parking. I'm a multi-tasker so being able to work on the go in a Grab is a plus.
3. Slack — It's the best app for workplace communication. I can create channels, share documents or code snippets, chat with colleagues in a really fun way.
1. Instagram — It's pretty much the only social media app I check everyday. Just like anyone, I use it to see what my friends are doing and (occasionally) post a story or photo. As an app developer, I appreciate the attention to detail and the efforts they put into this app. Since I've recently been working with video and photo apps, I actually refer to Instagram just to analyse how they designed and implement it.
2. Card Diary - Pretty journal by Yuan Fu — I've recently started using this app to capture the highlights and short notes of my day. I live a pretty busy life and I always forget what I did the day before. This app is pretty useful to just look back and appreciate the little (and big) moments! Also, I really love how clean and simple it looks!
3. Apple Podcasts by Apple — Many people ask me how I have the patience to drive an hour (sometimes more if the traffic is really bad) to and from work. Well, I use this time to listen to podcasts with the native Podcast app on my iPhone! They've got a large catalog of podcasts to discover.
Are you a woman who's interested in getting into the tech industry?
There are plenty of resources out there, and in this age, you can even pick up a few skills on your own just from watching YouTube videos. However, Apple has a pretty cool programme for organisations founded and led by women called Apple Entrepreneur Camp. Yes, even you, a Malaysian, can apply.
For more info, visit the website.