4 November 2009 - Opening Address by RADM(NS) Ronnie Tay, Chief Executive Officer, IDA Singapore, at The Youth Infocomm Seminar, The Supreme Court Auditorium

Opening Address by RADM(NS) Ronnie Tay, Chief Executive Officer, IDA Singapore, at The Youth Infocomm Seminar, 4 November 2009, 9am, The Supreme Court Auditorium

1. Good morning students, teachers, ladies and gentlemen. I am delighted to welcome you to this inaugural Youth Infocomm Seminar today. Last year, we had the Youth Infocomm Day when we gave out the National Infocomm Club Awards and showcased students’ infocomm projects. As this event attracted much participation from students and teachers, we have decided for this year to include more activities over a one-week period so that more can join in. Today’s seminar will kick off the Youth Infocomm Week which comprises a series of exciting workshops, competitions and field trips to leading companies are organised for students and teachers to experience infocomm first hand. There is also the annual Infocomm Club Awards as well as appointment of new club ambassadors. It will certainly be an exciting week ahead for all our participants.

2. This morning, you will hear about the exciting opportunities in the infocomm industry and the positive impact that an infocomm professional can make to the world today.

3. With the pervasive use of infocomm technology by consumers, businesses and governments, the demand for infocomm services will continue to rise exponentially. Such demand has contributed to the growth of the Singapore’s infocomm industry, which is a key contributor now to our economy. The revenue generated by the infocomm industry grew by 12.4% in 2007 to reach S$58.10 billion by 2008. As Singapore and the rest of the world emerge from the current economic downturn, the infocomm industry has proven its resilience by continuing to seed new business opportunities for further growth and development.

4. Infocomm will continue to be a high growth sector. This has resulted in a high demand for infocomm professionals in areas such as software development, software design, business process outsourcing management, solutioning and architecting and infocomm security. According to a survey conducted by IDA last year, there were 139,000 infocomm professionals employed in Singapore. Slightly more than half of these work in infocomm companies, while the rest work in organizations across the various economic sectors such as finance and banking, healthcare and tourism and hospitality. These professionals who combine technical ICT skills with domain knowledge of specific industries are in even greater demand. Such hybrid ICT professionals are able to leverage on technology to drive and transform businesses, enhance service offerings and increase the overall competitiveness of their organisations.

5. Prospects for infocomm graduates are very good. The average employment rate for infocomm graduates has been rising steadily in recent years, higher than the overall average across the local universities. Infocomm graduates are also getting higher starting salaries than the average local graduate.  Globally, the demand for infocomm manpower is also seeing an upward trend. The international IT research firm IDC and Microsoft projected last month that the IT industry will create almost six million new jobs and more than 75,000 new businesses between now and 2013. The growing demand for infocomm professionals means that students reading infocomm related courses are in a very good position when it comes to seeking good jobs. There is no doubt that infocomm can offer a dynamic and rewarding career to all those with the talent, drive and ambition to succeed.

6. We are very pleased that later this morning, we have the opportunity to hear from four very successful infocomm professionals about their experience of working in the dynamic and fast paced infocomm sector. One is Mr Linus Tham, the CIO of Raffles Medical Group, who has more than 15 years of experience in using infocomm to enable organizations in both the finance and healthcare sectors, having also previously been Managing Director and Head of Enterprise Architecture Services of DBS as well as CIO of National Healthcare Group.  Another is Ms Teresa Lim, who has held various portfolios in marketing, strategy and human resource covering the Asia Pacific region in IBM, one of the world’s largest IT company today.  Ms Lim is the Managing Director of IBM Singapore, where she is responsible for all operations including product, services, sales and distribution of IBM’s business in Singapore.

7. Now if you have a vision or a dream to create your own business, infocomm offers you the world of possibilities. The other two speakers at this morning’s seminar, Mr Tan Min Liang and Mr Chak Kong Soon, are entrepreneurs who seized the opportunities offered by emerging technologies to set up very innovative enterprises. Mr Tan has an interesting career background; he was for the first part of his career a technology lawyer in the boutique law firm Tan & Tan Partnership, where he was also the Asia-Pacific Counsel General to one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world. I believe he was following his passion when he subsequently switched career tracks, to become the Chief Gamer and Creative Director of one the world’s leading gaming peripherals brands, Razer. Mr Chak Kong Soon, CEO and Managing Partner of Stream Global who created his own software business, which provides software and mobile banking solutions in Singapore and the region; this was after a most successful career at the global consulting firm Accenture, where he was involved in offering technology solutions to banks and other financial solutions businesses and creating strategic IT masterplans for companies.

8. All of you here are probably on Facebook. Creating a digital scrapbook, autograph, journal and photo-album all rolled into one, was the vision of Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg when he was still a student at Harvard University. The founders of Yahoo and Google have similar beginnings. Today, Facebook, Yahoo and Google are household names known throughout the world, and these companies have become billion dollar enterprises.

9. Infocomm professionals can certainly make a positive impact in businesses, in society and in our lives through their work. Take our MRT system for example. You would appreciate that computer software is found in all parts of the system, from the command and control of the trains to the communications network linking all the stations together; infocomm technology has also helped to develop a single cash-card system for the convenience of commuters travelling across multiple transit systems. In education, infocomm enables experiential learning, setting a whole new paradigm for students and teachers. Interactive textbooks and new media like virtual worlds are used to help students develop competencies in language, science and music. In healthcare, surgeons are now using robotics to assist them in carrying out very delicate operations to remove tumours using a sophisticated procedure that is minimally invasive. Associate Professor Christopher Cheng, Senior Consultant and Head of the Department of Urology in SGH, is already using this technique to operate on cancer patients – and you will get to see him later in a video. All these innovations have been made possible with the infocomm revolution.

10. For those want to be part of this revolution and the exciting infocomm industry, there are courses and scholarships to help you develop your potential. The National Infocomm Scholarship or NIS is one example. Introduced in 2004 by IDA together with our industry partners, it aims to build a strong pipeline of future infocomm leaders. Outstanding students can pursue a fulltime infocomm-related degree in top universities through NIS. NIS scholars are attending prestigious universities such as the Imperial College, MIT, Stanford, Cornell, London School of Economics and University of California (Berkeley). There are also the integrated fast-track programmes which allow scholars to obtain both Bachelor and Masters degrees. These are offered by NUS, NTU and SMU in collaboration with top overseas universities such as Carnegie Mellon, Brown, Georgia Institute of Technology and Cambridge University. The latest is the new NUS-Brown fast-track programme in Computational Biology, where top students will get to specialise in this field, and have an exciting career in the healthcare space.

11. A total of 181 National Infocomm Scholarships have been awarded since its launch. would like to encourage you to consider taking up this unique scholarship, which includes industry internships at leading infocomm corporations and mentoring by infocomm professionals. IS Scholars will find themselves ‘industry-ready’ at graduation because of the experience they have gained through such internships.  Eventual employment opportunities are provided by leading organisations not only in the infocomm sector but also in the end-user industries such as banking and finance, defence, energy and entertainment. 

12. Let me highlight some of the NIS scholars. Ser Jin, an NIS-Oracle scholar currently studying at University of Pennsylvania in the US, was attached to Oracle’s California Headquarters in May this year. There, he played a pivotal role in enhancing the engineering platform of Oracle’s On-Demand Group, in order to get software to customers more efficiently. NIS-NCS scholar, Desmond Loh, was based in Qatar as a Java Skills Developer for 10 months, during which he created the Qatari government’s official e-Portal called "Hukoomi" or "Qatar Government Online". Desmond saw the project through from its initial design and data migration to its eventual roll-out. James Tan, an NIS-Novell scholar, developed Next Generation open enterprise software at Novell’s headquarters in Germany. James was subsequently offered a permanent job at Novell’s German headquarters in view of his good performance during his attachment with them. All these NIS scholars were able to have hands-on experience in innovatively using infocomm in business and government, which has proven to be immensely valuable when building their careers in infocomm.

13. Choosing infocomm as a career can put you in the forefront of the infocomm revolution. As an infocomm professional, you can make a difference. Indeed, an infocomm career is a rewarding one with tremendous scope for professional development. I encourage all of you to consider infocomm as a choice of study, join the company of fellow creative and brilliant minds, and enter the fascinating world of infocomm.

14. Now I invite you to watch a video about the infocomm industry and what our infocomm professionals and NIS scholars have to share about their experience.

15. I wish all of you a pleasant morning. Thank you.

Last updated on: 13 Mar 2023