By Erinne Ong
Though Southeast Asian tech companies have a strong track record of hiring women, a recent report from BCG, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and SG Women In Tech revealed that there is still a leaky pipeline still very much present, even in Singapore. On local shores, 28% of the intake to Information Technology courses in our local universities were female in 2017. This figure increased to 35% in 2019.
As more women consider a career in tech, work-life balance becomes a key consideration—with mothers especially susceptible to leaving tech companies that lack it. However, Mrs Adilah, proud mother of two and founder of web design company Poised Creative, is proof that there doesn’t always have to be a choice between family and career.
With support from IMDA’s Tech Immersion and Placement Programme (TIPP), she valiantly juggled familial responsibilities while taking up the User Experience Design Immersive (UXDI) programme from global technology education company General Assembly. This Mother’s Day, we celebrate women in tech like Mrs Adilah, who show the world that it is indeed possible to have it all—a loving family and a thriving career in tech.
Leaping into the world of UX
If you’ve ever visited a beautifully designed website that was a breeze to navigate, you’ve got UX professionals like Mrs Adilah to thank for the smooth experience.
Armed with a Digital Media Diploma and a Bachelor of Arts in Visual Communication, Mrs Adilah spent nearly a decade as a full-time web designer at companies like Singapore Press Holdings Magazines. However, after eight years in the trade, she realised that she didn’t want websites just to look nice. Rather, she sought to create digital experiences that were immersive, accessible and dynamic, adding value for companies and end-users alike.
“I wanted to explore work that was beyond a flat digital screen, making UX a natural next step,” shared Mrs Adilah.
“What mainly sparked my interest in UX was its ability to affect people and make an impact in their daily lives. In my day-to-day interactions with services and digital surfaces, I found several opportunities that could use improvements through design and UX.”
Mrs. Adilah found General Assembly’s three-month UXDI programme, which for her presented the perfect opportunity to jumpstart a career in UX, with course fees also subsidised by IMDA’s TIPP under the TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA) initiative. Through TIPP, fresh graduates and mid-career switchers with no background in tech are converted into industry-ready ICT professionals through immersive training programmes—after which trainees like Mrs Adilah must find a placement in a tech job role.
Balancing motherhood and work
While Mrs Adilah was intent on changing careers, there were other circumstances at play. After all, not only was she three months pregnant with her second child, she also had a three-year-old daughter to care for. In between rushing her toddler to day-care and staying up late to finish her General Assembly project work, Mrs Adilah quickly perfected the skill of juggling multiple hats as a mother and tech trainee.
“Some challenges included rushing my firstborn to childcare before coming to class and staying up late to finish up my project work,” she shared. “I had to be disciplined…to focus on my goal of completing the course well.”
Thankfully, General Assembly cultivated an environment that suited her personal circumstances and career goals. According to Mrs Adilah, the course focused on project-based learning that closely resembled real-life industry situations that she was likely to face with her clients. Despite the tight deadlines, support from her classmates, instructors, program staff and coaches proved to be invaluable—inspiring her to keep moving forward even while balancing her responsibilities at home.
After graduating from the UXDI course in March 2020, her entrepreneurial role at Poised Creative has taken on a new dimension. Beyond performing design work, Mrs Adilah now manages projects and coordinates with external partners. Her focus has also shifted from branding and aesthetics to a more strategic approach that integrates UX principles to develop more impactful website designs.
Lessons beyond the classroom
The epitome of a super mum, Mrs Adilah exemplifies the strengths that mothers bring to the tech industry where women remain underrepresented.
“Bringing in your experiences as a mother adds a unique depth to your tech career.”
Her patience with her children translates into a more empathetic approach at work, fostering stronger relationships and seamless collaborations to achieve shared goals. Meanwhile, the concept of a ‘minimum viable product’ has helped her rethink her approach to parenting.
“The reality is, our children have their timeline and we cannot force it,” she shared. “Instead of an all-or-nothing attitude, I’ve learnt to think of what can minimally be done to achieve a certain accomplishment for my children.”
By paving the way for career switchers like Mrs Adilah to access exciting opportunities in tech, agencies like IMDA are breaking down gender barriers and preventing businesses from losing out on excellent talent. Interested in taking up a career in tech? For more information on the Tech Immersion and Placement Programme (TIPP), visit www.go.gov.sg/tesatipp.