By Daphne Yow and Michelle Yap
Discovery+ is a series of online industry panels which give students the chance to interact with working professionals and learn about the careers they aspire to enter. These panels provide youths and working professionals with the opportunity to better understand industry trends, hear first-hand perspectives from industry professionals, and gain valuable advice on entering or navigating these industries.
On 5 October 2021, Advisory hosted Discover+: Cloud Computing, the 43rd edition of the Discovery+ series. Speakers on the panel included:
- Colin Tan (Moderator), General Manager, Technology Sales, IBM Singapore
- Chan Cheow Hoe, Government Chief Digital Technology Officer and Deputy Chief Executive, SNDGO and GovTech
- Gunasekharan Chellappan, Country Manager, Singapore, Red Hat
- Sam Liew, Managing Partner, Government Strategic Business Group, NCS.
Attendees included students at various levels of education with a desire to know the different career paths in Cloud Computing, and how to best position themselves for such roles. Below are some key points shared during the session:
While Cloud has been a slow starter for many years, it is now part of a huge global ecosystem. It has become a lot more pervasive and mainstream, and we are only seeing the start of it. Eventually, Cloud will be used by almost every industry. Hence, as a young adult looking for a technology job, cloud computing is almost a necessary skill that one must acquire as everyone will be involved in it in some way or another.
Cloud is pervasive and impacts both the infrastructure team and the application development team. Systems integrators have migrated a lot of their development to cloud-centric platforms, and have learnt how to operate in a cloud-based environment. It is essential to constantly pivot and grow with the industry, while being thoughtful of how we can bring the best products and services to our customers.
Change is the one consistent thing about Information Technology (IT), and this applies to open source technology as well. It is constantly evolving to meet the needs of cloud computing. In the past, a lot of technology was developed by proprietary companies in a very closed ecosystem. However, in the last 20 to 30 years, as cloud adoption continues to grow rapidly, open source has picked up a lot of momentum as a result. Now, the industry sees the democratisation of technology as important in involving the community to work together to innovate. In fact, a lot of the recent technologies that have driven cloud computing are all based on open-source technology.
There are many good career pathways present in the cloud computing industry, and a lot of these opportunities depend on your aptitude and interests. For instance, you may consider joining a technology company if you are keen on building products or seeing product development cycles through. On the other hand, if you are someone who wants to see multiple client organisations and have different challenges or situations being posed or thrown at you, a systems integrator organisation will be more suitable for you. Conversely, if you would like to focus more on supporting the organisation’s mandates, you can consider working on end-user technology as you will be able to see the product of your creation, and learn more about how it generates business value and how that translates to the broader organisation.
One important piece of advice for youths is to not feel constrained by the current role that they are in, as there are many career pathways. To do well in this new age, it is important to focus on building up your skills and capabilities and be adaptable to technological changes. It also helps to have a sense of purpose, such as doing something that can solve compelling problems and benefit a large number of people.
Last but not least, always stay open-minded, flexible, passionate, and most importantly, have the willingness to learn. A willingness to learn and accept challenges is crucial because the cloud computing field is fast-paced and ever-changing. Growth and comfort do not co-exist.
Information Technology (IT) is always changing. Be adaptable, keep challenging yourself to learn new and different skills, and always stay abreast of what is happening in the industry. One good thing about cloud is that everything is now available online, which makes it much easier for anyone to pick up new skills!
Career prospects are tremendous as digitalisation and technology is at the forefront. To progress well in this industry, it is important to achieve a strong technical grounding within the first few years of your career.
There is a diverse range of well-defined technology tracks for people to grow and evolve into. These models are quite versatile and can range from a more tech-centric view to a more business or project management view.
Nonetheless, the key technical skills required can be broken down into the following three areas: Artificial Intelligence (AI), cloud native development, and 5G. Besides technology, you will likely experience rotations to learn more about the business and operations side of things as well.
Yes, there are many resources out there for you to pick up the skills, such as through online courses and SkillsFuture traineeships. One can learn along the way, though it is also essential to develop your technology foundations, such as coding skills, early on. This can be done in school or in the first few years of the career.
It will also be easier for someone to switch into the industry if he or she comes from a science or math background. This is because the structural way of doing things applies very well to the programming methodology. However, having said that, it is generally still possible for anyone to enter this industry as long as he or she has the interest or passion for technology.
There are also many different types of cloud computing certifications in our world today. Although certifications may be beneficial, practical hands-on experience or application are likely to be more desirable to employers.
The rewarding parts can be divided into two areas — the technical aspect and the people aspect of the job. For the former, there are often new problems, challenges and solutions in the cloud computing field that keep people motivated and excited. For the latter, the strong bonds and relationships forged between team members can help to keep one going. Furthermore, it is always heartening for senior workers to witness the growth of their junior employees. It is satisfying for one to see that he or she has played a role in moulding the future generation.
The toughest part of the job includes its long hours, unpredictable nature and heavy responsibilities that correlate with the magnitude of the potential implications that may result if the job is poorly done. Passion is essential to ride through the tough times.
As different people thrive in different environments, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The answer ultimately boils down to one’s subjective personality and degree of comfort with uncertainty.
In the technology field, there is no difference in terms of work-life balance in the public and private sectors because both sectors face numerous challenges. Instead of focusing on the sectors, one’s work-life balance will likely be more contingent on his or her role or position in the organisation.