L to R: President of Singapore Computer Society Mr Howie Lau and Minister for Communications and Information Dr Yaacob Ibrahim presents the award for Professional of the Year to Dr Lim Woo Lip, Vice President of SmartHub and Cyber Security at StarHub. (Photo credit: Singapore Computer Society)
By Amy Tan
Honouring ICT Champions
Now in its 21st year, the Singapore Computer Society's (SCS) IT Leader Awards recognises the contributions of outstanding industry veterans and up-and-comers who are helping to transform and strengthen Singapore’s ICT industry.
This year’s awards recognised the following IT professionals:
- IT Leader of the Year: Bill Chang – CEO of Group Enterprise and country chief officer at Singtel
- Professional of the Year: Dr Lim Woo Lip – Vice President of SmartHub and Cyber Security at StarHub
- Entrepreneur of the Year: Alex Lau – Founder and CEO of Anacle Systems Limited
- IT Youth: Yeo Quan Yang, Founder of NUS Greyhats, an interest group that aims to foster collaboration and promote interest in Information Security at National University of Singapore
- Hall of Fame: Saw Ken Wye – CEO at CrimsonLogic
The gap between companies at the forefront of innovation and the rest of the industry is widening, but this spells opportunity for more businesses and workers to adopt new technologies in order to raise productivity.
This was one of the messages in the speech delivered by Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who was the Guest of Honour at the Singapore Computer Society (SCS) 50th Gala Dinner and IT Leader Awards held on 10 March 2017. To achieve this goal, the Government has crafted a two-fold strategy that involves growing a larger cluster of highly innovative firms and ensuring that new technologies spread rapidly across the rest of the economy.
"In particular, we need much more widespread adoption of digital technologies among businesses in Singapore," he said during his address at the gala event held at Resorts World Convention Centre. He added that the biggest challenge to realising this vision was a lack of quality ICT talent.
Some examples of leading ICT talent were on show that night, as the winners of the SCS IT Leaders Awards were unveiled (see box on right). These exceptional individuals were recognised not just for their contributions to the infocomm and digital media industry but also their roles in helping the sector develop in Singapore.
A passion for grooming talent
The IT Leader of the Year went to Singtel's CEO for Group Enterprise, Bill Chang, who was recognised for his "relentless passion, drive and focus on developing talent".
Speaking at a press event on the awards, Mr Chang noted that Singapore would need to groom ICT talent at an early age, as well as help professionals already working in the sector to transition to new areas so as to take advantage of new technologies.
Among his achievements, the 23-year industry veteran has collaborated with the Infocomm Media Development Authority to train mid-career ICT professionals under the Cyber Security Associates and Technologists programme.
He also urged companies to pivot into new business areas in the digital space to capitalise on opportunities that arise. Singtel, for instance, moved aggressively into the cybersecurity space and is currently one of the top five cybersecurity services providers in the world.
“A lot of this is made possible by understanding trends and markets, customer needs and capabilities that you need to build. While Singapore remains a key market for innovation and developing capabilities, we really need to ask ourselves how we can become a global champion,” he said.
Helping build an ecosystem
Meanwhile, Dr Lim Woo Lip, vice president of SmartHub and Cyber Security at StarHub, was named Professional of the Year for his efforts to help develop Singapore's ICT ecosystem. According to his citation, he has "helped to establish links between government agencies, institutes of higher learning and commercial companies for collaborations and joint developments in data analytics and cyber security."
Since joining StarHub in 2013, he has worked to grow its data analytics capabilities. Today, SmartHub, the data analytics arm of StarHub, provides data analytics support to various government agencies and ministries, as well as commercial companies.
Dr Lim said that the availability of huge volumes of data is allowing ICT professionals to create new applications in areas such as deep learning and artificial intelligence. These new technologies, in turn, are fuelling the digitalisation of business and society.
“IBM introduced speech recognition in the 1980s but today, Apple’s Siri voice recognition is almost near perfect. The reason why technologies like speech recognition is reaching the near perfect stage now is because of big data,” he said.
The event also gave recognition to one of the industry's up and coming talents, with National University of Singapore (NUS) Computer Science undergraduate Yeo Quan Yang clinching the IT Youth award.
During his first year at NUS, Mr Yeo founded NUS Greyhats, an interest group that aims to foster collaboration and promote interest in information security at the university. He secured an internship with Google Switzerland earlier this year.
Said Mr Yeo, "A lot of people are in ICT because of how exciting it is. I feel that we should try to maintain our passion in the industry. So I started Greyhats to try to cultivate this passion in people and try to let them discover their passion again."