Wiring Up the Nation

Set to take the infocomm world by storm are National Infocomm Scholars Yew Siong and Pamela, who will soon embark on exciting careers with Microsoft Singapore and Barclays Capital.

By Nabilah Husna A. Rahman

Attracting foreign investments, sustaining long-term growth, and enhancing global competitiveness – these are just a few of the ambitious aims of the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA). With its global perspective, IDA is regularly on the lookout for the future leaders of Singapore’s infocomm industry – scholars who will not only be the best at what they do, but also have a passion for it.

Enter Lim Yew Siong and Pamela Chua, recipients of the National Infocomm Scholarship (NIS) offered by IDA and current undergraduates in Stanford University and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) respectively.

Jointly awarded by IDA and leading partners in the industry, NIS is unique because it offers greater flexibility, allowing scholars to carve out a career with private infocomm organisations. It offers full and partial scholarships for students, and also the much-coveted fast-track bachelor-master’s degree programme which allows students to study at prestigious local and overseas universities. The fast-track programme allows students to acquire two degrees in the time it takes to get one.

“The NIS provides very comprehensive coverage for scholars,” says Yew Siong, on why he was attracted to the scholarship. “During vacation, we are encouraged to pick up internships with our sponsoring companies. This gives us an advantage because we’re exposed to the corporate culture of the IT sector earlier than our peers in university.”

For Pamela, a former Raffles Junior College student, the scholarship was her one-way ticket to her dream college – Stanford University in California, USA.

“NIS is definitely a great opportunity, because without it I would not have been able to go overseas and study at Stanford,” she enthuses. “More than just the financial coverage, it also gives scholars the opportunity to work with good companies that value talent.”

Such companies include two of IDA’s prestigious participating organisations – Microsoft Singapore and Barclays Capital, in which Yew Siong and Pamela will be correspondingly posted to once they graduate.

Joining the Microsoft family
When asked how his passion for infocomm was born, Yew Siong’s answer might surprise you. “It was out of sheer luck that I even ventured into infocomm technology in the first place,” the 23-year-old reveals.

Studying Engineering Informatics at Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) was not something he had planned on, having been allocated a place there through the Direct Polytechnic Admission Exercise years ago. But fortunately for him, the course was a perfect fit.

“I believe infocomm is one of the most challenging industries we can have now,” he says. “It’s an ever-changing industry that has no limits. That’s also one of the reasons why I chose to stay on in infocomm when I went to study in university.”

Naturally, his outstanding academic performance was one of the factors that landed him the scholarship – Yew Siong had graduated from NYP with a grade point average of 3.9, a Diploma with Merit, and a specialisation in Enterprise Networking. In fact, in NIS,a polytechnic-based education is just as embraced as a Junior College (JC) one, and infocomm talents who are diploma-holders assimilate equally well.

“Some of the polytechnic students I have personally encountered are very talented as IT students or IT programmers,” he shares. “But they lack the confidence and always have the impression that scholars always come from JC, which is not a fact.”

As a diploma-holder and scholarship recipient, Yew Siong finds it his duty to tell his peers that the NIS scholarship is attainable by anyone, as long as passion, hard work and determination are added to the mix.

“My advice to polytechnic students is to be daring,” emphasises the first-year Computer Science undergraduate. “You need to be confident and know where you want to be and what you want in life.”

Under the bachelor-master’s programme with NTU and Georgia Institute of Technology, Yew Siong will proceed to study for his master’s at Georgia Institute of Technology after his bachelor at NTU, attaining the qualification in just four and a half years.

Going all out
Meanwhile, Pamela’s unadulterated enthusiasm for infocomm brought her the golden ticket to an education in Mathematical & Computational Science at Stanford University.

“Math has always been my best subject,” the 19-year-old reveals. “I think that learning Computer Science is very useful, especially in this computer-centric world, because technology is very powerful.”

Pamela explains that her choice to study at Stanford, apart from it being renowned for IT courses, stems from her desire to “experience the US education system for a change”.

“I hope that through this scholarship, I will get to know the infocomm system and help to make it more efficient and productive,” explains Pamela, who will join Barclays Capital, a top investment banking firm, after her graduation. “I actually talked to one of my friends who worked in an investment bank before, and she said that the speeds of the programmes are very important. Every second counts, so I hope to help in that area,” she shares.

Having a broad-based education is mandatory for fresh graduates dealing with a relentlessly evolving industry. Pamela reckons that she was picked for the scholarship because of her ability to “see things from many perspectives”.

“It’s a great privilege to have actually been given a scholarship, and every scholar should strive to meet the expectations,” says Pamela, who finds that commitment and responsibility are the two important traits of a successful scholar.

A progressive environment
As National Infocomm Scholars, Yew Siong and Pamela will soon reap the benefits of the efforts they’ve put into achieving a quality education – they will test their potential on a larger scale at their sponsor organisations. And this is where the real fun begins.

“My job will be more than just about infocomm,” says Yew Siong, on joining Microsoft Singapore. “Personally, I’ll be trying to venture out into other things like economics and sociology – these are the things I believe are required in any corporate culture.”

“Singapore is one of the most wired-up countries. It’s very progressive, and in the infocomm industry, there will always be continuous improvements and developments,” adds Pamela, who looks forward to stretching her capabilities through an exciting career.

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