By Sarah Loh
By connecting them with leaders in the industry to learn from the best, as well as through mentorships and coaching, IMDA’s SG Digital Leadership Accelerator programme supports Singapore's high-potential professionals and students looking to advance their tech and media careers to prime them for key leadership positions in local and global firms.
With the world going digital, sectors driven by tech and media are set for exponential growth. According to the Infocomm Media Development Authority’s (IMDA) Annual Report 2021/2022 (13.27MB), the nation’s infocomm media sector expanded by 12 percent in 2021, contributing 5.6 percent to Singapore’s gross domestic product. In fact, tech and media professionals are also in high demand in the country, with their employed rates increasing from 172,480 in 2017 to 214,740 in 2021.
Digital innovation has become a driving economic force as Singapore continues to build on its position as a leading global business and tech hub. However, the growing demand for digital experts far outweighs the supply, making the tech and media landscape more competitive as employers look for ways to attract and retain the right talent.
The SG Digital Leadership Accelerator (SGDLA) programme was thus launched to build a strong local core of digital leaders who can drive Singapore’s digital future. The SGDLA brings together digital leaders at different stages in their tech and media career, covering both professionals and students under IMDA’s SG Digital Leaders and SG Digital Scholarship. It does this by accelerating their professional development through a structured programme, helping them build connections with global leaders in the tech industry and providing mentorship opportunities for leadership skill development.
Learn how our SG Digital Leader is looking to drive his passion for tech and mentoring within the SGDLA, and how two SG Digital Scholarship recipients, who have just begun their leadership journey, look to push the boundaries of their chosen industries through digital whilst leveraging the exclusive opportunities the SGDLA offers.
A passion for tech and mentoring
As Director of Operations and Chief of Staff to the CTO at Circles.Life, a fully digital telco operator and platform provider, Mr Gan has been recognised by IMDA in 2022 as an SG Digital Leader, as part of an IMDA collaboration with the private sector to identify professionals with leadership potential.
Mr Gan was identified as a SG Digital Leader for his extensive technology and leadership experience at Circles.Life where he oversees multiple domains within the Product Engineering department, leading technical, partnerships and program management teams. Mr Gan also holds a Bachelor of Engineering from Imperial College London and a Masters of Science from Stanford University.
The SG Digital Leader accolade offers diverse support mechanisms for executives in tech, from exclusive coaching to mentorship engagements with senior tech leaders and executive education programmes. Awardees like myself can connect with like-minded peers, gain global insights and lead in our roles more confidently.
Mr Gan Hao Yi
Director of Operations and Chief of Staff to the CTO at Circles.Life
As the tech industry continues to expand in Singapore, Mr Gan believes mentorship programmes will benefit young tech talents significantly, particularly in picking up technical knowledge and soft skills from more seasoned industry professionals. IMDA has paired him with Mr Gregor Hohpe, an AWS mentor and global leader that advises CTOs and technology leaders in IT transformation, to support Mr Gan further in his leadership development.
Mr Gan is also a strong advocate of giving back to society and grooming young talent - he has been participating in various volunteering and mentorship programmes since his junior college days. Apart from SGDLA, he is an active mentor with Advisory Singapore and notably, also the Director of Mentoring Programmes in the Project Management Institute’s Singapore Chapter, guiding college students and young professionals in their respective fields.
“As part of my initial batch of mentees years ago, I recall having an enthusiastic young mentee who was ahead of his school peers in exploring software development, including taking up courses and freelance projects in parallel with his studies. During one of the sessions, he shared openly about the tech landscape, culture and mental models of his generation of teenagers, and there was an “Aha!” moment for me as I listened to his sharing, that I was also learning from him as much as he was from me,” Mr Gan recounted. “Since then, I always see mentorship as a two-way street, with mentors having as much to learn from the process and engagement as the mentees.”
A goal to transform industry leadership
Mr Muhd Khairul Syahmi is a young man with a purpose—he aims to redefine what it means to be a 21st-century industry leader in the manufacturing sector by combining strong business acumen with data analytics. A Process and Equipment Engineer with Micron Technology, he considers himself a keen learner and motivated achiever. In 2022, he received the SG Digital Scholarship (Postgraduate) to pursue a Master of Science in Business Analytics at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore.
The SG Digital Scholarship supports both undergraduate and postgraduate studies in tech and media. For Mr Syahmi, his interest in data analytics sparked after reading about a programme that can analyse how crowded MRT trains can get in a day. Through the industry scholarship, he is excited to interact with scholars and professionals from different tech fields. He believes these networking opportunities are also learning moments as he pursues the integration of tech in manufacturing.
As a scholarship recipient, he is part of the SGDLA network and cherishes the eye-opening experiences it offers.
Exposing scholars to esteemed leaders from different backgrounds across industries not only expands the knowledge pool, but also creates a generation of like-minded, collaborative and cross-disciplinary individuals who can shape Singapore’s digital sphere.
Mr Muhd Khairul Syahmi
Process and Equipment Engineer of Micron Technology
Mr Syahmi finds that the well-established mentorship opportunities offered by the SGDLA community give an edge to future tech leaders as they progress in their tech and media careers. He believes growing local digital talent is vital to maintaining Singapore’s position as a tech-driven centre of excellence.
“Developing our local talent will place Singapore ahead of the global playing field. With a diverse pool of tech leaders on our shores, other countries would look to us for inspiration and ideas to further their own tech goals,” highlighted Mr Syahmi, who is determined to apply his knowledge in the manufacturing industry and advance it.
An avenue to blend art with tech
As someone who hopes to work in the intersection between art and tech, this scholarship has brought me out of my comfort zone and broadened my mind with the creative possibilities overseas. I have learnt how to create art collaboratively, be flexible and balance my work and personal life.
Ms Megan Tan
With a passion for the visual arts and an interest in honing tech skills, Ms Tan was drawn to the SG Digital Scholarship because of the many educational opportunities it offers. In pursuing her course, she believes that she will improve her technical skills and ideation processes. Ultimately, she wishes to explore the different ways she can engage with the public through interdisciplinary immersive media experiences.
“Because of how ubiquitous tech and media are now, IMDA’s support in various fields has become all the more significant, especially in the arts,” expressed Ms Tan. “Over the course of the scholarship, I hope to grow into a more confident art practitioner who can work with diverse people and find new ways to combine tech and media in my work.”
Eager to exercise her creativity and practise her skills, she also looks forward to the various mentorship, collaboration, and employment opportunities that IMDA provides through the SGDLA community.
Ms Tan, along with Mr Gan and Mr Muhd, is just one of the many talents learning and growing and benefitting from the leadership development opportunities offered by the SGDLA to build up Singapore’s digital society. The SGDLA will groom leaders who will spearhead digital innovation and contribute to elevating the country’s infocomm media sector.
Find out more about how IMDA supports the development of Singapore’s top infocomm media talent into local digital leaders through the SG Digital Leadership Accelerator.