“One thing about the tech industry is its ability to improve the quality of life, no matter who you are and what you do.”

When Desmond first started his career as an auditor 20 years ago, the words 'Python' and 'Tableau' were utterly unfamiliar to him. Today, at 54, he builds bots that automate critical business processes at leading Singapore telco Singtel. 

Journey into the unknown

The moment his manager requested for audit reports to be done with Python, a programming language, and Tableau, a data visualisation software, was when Desmond realised it was time he took active steps to keep up with the ever-evolving skill sets required of today’s workforce. That was the wake-up call he needed to kickstart his search for a suitable programme that would allow him to smoothly transition from a non-IT job to one that would enable him to put digital skills to good use. However, he was disappointed to find that many of them required an IT or engineering background, which he lacked.

That was when he came across an opening for a Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Engineer role at Singtel. To sweeten the deal, he discovered that the role was through TeSA Mid-Career Advance – a training programme under IMDA’s TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA) initiative that provides full time employment and salary. After 20 years in accounting, the structure and stability provided by the programme gave Desmond the confidence to take that leap of faith in making a mid-career switch, and he jumped on the opportunity.

Speaking a new (programming) language

Despite feeling like a newcomer to the digital workforce, Desmond managed to re-engineer his thinking from that of an auditor to a programmer. To his delight, it was not as daunting as he had imagined, and he found that his existing skills such as an analytical mind and logical thinking helped to smoothen his learning curve and ease the transition. With close guidance from his mentors and an unshakeable determination to learn, Desmond went from crunching numbers to mastering programming logic, statements, and conditions.

As an RPA engineer at Singtel, Desmond is responsible for meeting up with end-users to gather business requirements and identify manual processes that are taking up too much resources and time. His role is to leverage technology to help automate these tasks, freeing up valuable time for colleagues to focus on higher-value tasks such as customer service and innovation. In just a couple of months, Desmond was able to use Ui Path, an RPA software, to build a bot that helps with form-filling by automating the reading of emails. This marks one of the achievements he feels proud about on his exciting journey into the world of technology.

A one-way ticket to the world of future technology

The ability to utilise software to automate tedious manual processes instilled Desmond with a newfound purpose and vigour. The TeSA initiative not only provided him with digital skills that drive value for his company but also reignited his passion for lifelong learning and a desire to continuously self-improve. Since then, he has not looked back.

Looking to the future, Desmond believes jobs in the coming decades will revolve around tech trends such as machine learning, Artificial Intelligence, and financial technology (fintech). He is confident he will be able to apply the skills he's learned about automation workflows in other tech sector roles.

“My successful bot building is just the beginning, and I hope I can pick up more skills around these areas going forward", he says.

Desmond remains firmly committed to bringing the skills he has learnt through the TeSA initiative to his job, and in the future, hopes to share his experience by mentoring individuals like his younger self who are considering a mid-career switch.