Upward and outwards: a world of opportunities for professional growth at IMDA

Last updated: 06 May 2022

Published on: 06 May 2022

By Jill Arul

To excel at their sport, many elite athletes rely on cross-training, where they mix up their workouts with an exercise or sport outside of their specialty to work different muscle groups and achieve overall fitness. Similarly, specialists and professionals in all industries can benefit from immersing themselves in a parallel but differing environment.

Take for example, Mr Samuel Tan, senior manager at Digital Industry Singapore (DISG). As an officer at the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), Mr Tan has many opportunities to grow as a professional through initiatives such as the Singapore government’s Digital Technology Attachment Programme (DTAP). Just like a basketballer exploring the quick movements of martial arts, Mr Tan dove into a new role as a part of the Regional Business Intelligence team at e-commerce company Shopee.

Combined with his expertise from his time at IMDA, Mr Tan intends to harness the new experiences and skills from his year-long secondment at Shopee to return to IMDA better equipped to contribute to the growth of Singapore’s digital economy.

Dedicated to driving digitalisation

In 2010, Mr Tan joined Singapore’s Infocomm Development Authority (IDA), the predecessor of IMDA, as a manager developing policies for national infocomm technology (IT) infrastructure projects. New to the sector, Mr Tan was able to see the impact of such policies on the industry as he was a part of a team that helped businesses digitalise, created job opportunities and aimed to cement Singapore’s position as a leader in the global digital economy. In fact, in 2015, Mr Tan was a part of the launch of Singapore’s Heterogeneous Network (HetNet) deployment—which, at the time, helped businesses access cutting-edge connectivity and communications. 

Today, Mr Tan is a part of DISG—a joint office of IMDA, the Economic Development Board and Enterprise Singapore. At DISG, Mr Tan is just as committed as ever to driving digitalisation across the nation as he works closely with the a range of companies in Singapore to nurture tech talent and implement digital solutions. While he continues to develop the digitalisation of local businesses, he has taken bold new steps away from infrastructure and towards resource and talent development.

“I want to see more local companies succeed on the global stage. In this digital age, where companies can be digital and global, we are no longer constrained by our geographical boundaries.”

He added that with the right ideas, talent and government support, local companies have the potential to be serious competitors on the world stage.

At DISG, Mr Tan provides the support for companies to do just that by understanding their unique pain points and working with them to implement digital solutions. Through a slew of initiatives and programmes, DISG helps companies tackle growth challenges like attracting talent, finding relevant partners and expanding overseas.

“At DISG, every day presents different challenges. You never know what’s in store for you. It’s exciting and requires you to think on your feet and be creative.”

An exciting year at Shopee

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At Shopee, Mr Samuel Tan works to understand the challenges and opportunities of the company’s regional teams as well as develop valuable solutions. (Photo: Shopee)

Excited for more challenges and further professional growth, Mr Tan applied for the opportunity to be a part of DTAP. As a part of the programme, IMDA employees and other government officers like Mr Tan spend time working at a private company to better understand the industries they serve.

Mr Tan began his year at Shopee looking to gain insight into the challenges faced by the tech companies he works with at DISG. As a veteran at IMDA, Mr Tan arrived at Shopee with prior experience identifying business challenges, analysing data and building structured processes for problem solving—allowing him to hit the ground running at Shopee.

“The role of the Regional Business Intelligence team is to understand the business models across various local markets, identify opportunities and develop solutions to capture these opportunities,” he explained. “Every day we work with data to identify strengths, best practices and areas for improvement to positively impact users across the region.”

During his time at Shopee, Mr Tan experienced the goals and processes at Shopee first-hand as well as the data-driven approach used to propel projects across various markets. Such insights will be especially useful as he supports companies looking to expand overseas as Shopee has. In particular, Mr Tan has found that e-commerce companies must be adaptable, creative and quick to respond to the needs of the market.

“Each local market has different market dynamics. It is important to understand the context they are operating in to truly appreciate the challenges and propose effective solutions.”

As local SMEs work towards an international presence, such insights will guide them towards strategies to enter overseas markets. IMDA is committed to driving overseas expansion for local companies through a variety of programmes and Mr Tan is looking forward to applying the new insights he has gained from Shopee to better advise companies on the best way forward.

At IMDA, government officers like Mr Tan have the opportunity for professional growth throughout their careers through new experiences in the private sector and government programmes. Additionally, with a fuller understanding of the work that goes on within the companies they aim to benefit, IMDA officers can better design and implement initiatives or resources that contribute to the growth and success of local enterprises.


Are you passionate about developing Singapore’s digital economy and looking for a career with an expanding room to grow? Find out more about the opportunities available on our Careers page.

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