With any career in tech, especially AI research which I am involved in, you are always ahead of the curve. Sometimes, it’s hard to be an evangelist when the people around you are afraid of adopting change or simply being more embracing of new technology. A lot of it has got to do with a lack of education or information on the technology involved. We fear what we don’t know. I find it extremely satisfying when we get to educate and introduce people to new possibilities through AI.
I have always been somebody to start something new. So, with my partner Natasha, I started En Pointe & Co. which was, at that time, the only modest contemporary fashion retail business in both Singapore and Malaysia. I saw a gap in the market to provide Muslim or modest women in Singapore with stylish yet affordable clothes.
I saw a shift around 2017 in the way people started to view how the world works. That’s the fourth industrial revolution: digitalisation and the usage of algorithms. Everything was becoming online. It’s certainly related to fashion retail (for example, using data to predict fashion trends). When I saw the opportunity, I joined Parrot Social in 2018 as a partner and director. With my 7 years of experience in the finance industry, I could also lend some perspective with regards to conversations with private corporations. Parrot Social was started by Hamidah who saw a gap in the market to provide sentiment analysis and market research based on Artificial Intelligence.
Learning how to code through classes online instead of attending a physical classroom. Imagine trying to keep up with an instructor who pops up on a small window on your screen and also multi-tasking between laptops learning and applying code. I also didn’t have the opportunity to bounce ideas off classmates in a physical setting and had to rely on typing messages on WhatsApp to my TA to check if my code was correct.
It was definitely not the most ideal way to learn how to code and I poured in hours a day practising and getting through assignments. I even took up extra courses online to keep me ahead and fully immersed in the course. I came from a Business School background and had no coding experience prior.
We used to think of tech as a man’s job because of its mechanicality and technicality. But now, the tech understanding is different. It’s about the way you make your payments. It’s about the consolidation of your company’s inventory. It’s as simple as the automation of accounting or invoicing. The understanding of tech is now much broader.
When I took up Python Programming and Coding during the Circuit Breaker, I was a minority in the class. Every time the lecturer would ask a question, the first person to answer would always be a Chinese male. I then told myself that one day, instead of him, I would be the first one to answer the question. On the last day of my coding class, I was the first one to answer the question. I wanted my TA and classmates to remember that there was a Malay/Muslim female student who scored a 100% for the final assignment. I think that’s very important for representation. So that when they next see a Malay/Muslim female candidate walk in, they will never say that she doesn’t know how to code or she doesn’t know anything about tech.
The coding community is amazing and helpful but you have to embrace every opportunity and platform that you are given. Make use of the discussion forums, join the groups, ask multiple questions, and fully participate.
Data science is something I enjoy and I would like to understand it better in the next few years.