Week 2: Uphill Incline

When everything seem to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.

Henry Ford

20 January 2020
Today is my first day at the Endofotonics Woodlands office, here under Sys-Mac Automation Engineering Pte Ltd. It is my first time here at Woodlands Spectrum, and I am amazed at the number of manufacturing buildings here, alongside food manufacturing sites as well.

I was introduced to the optics and engineering laboratory, where the products were being tested. Although my role is more on the clinical side, it is important for me to understand the engineering side of the company, particularly how the technology works.

22 January 2020– Wicked Wednesdays
This week was an ideation sharing by Dylan Teo, co-founder of Kiasu Foodies– popular food deals platform, and Huang Tao of Protégé Ventures– a student run VC. I have several key take-aways from the sharing:

  1. It is important to understand what a VC is looking out for, not just for you to better be able to pitch to them what they want to hear but to find the right match for your start-up.
  2. Product-market-fit (PMF) requires intuition alongside hard metrics. You will know if it is something people want but at the same time it is good to back it up with data.
  3. Look at the number of people who can’t live without your product or service– your super-fans. Find out their persona and what is the value they are getting out of it.
  4. Focus on one idea at a time. This is an age old advice. Don’t spread yourself too thin. As much as it may hurt to think that sometimes ideas do fail, and “there goes all that time spent on it”, working on too many ideas at once might be an even worse off way of spending that time. If you focus on one idea, a really good one, you will be a lot more in-tune with the product and the market.

24 January 2020
This week was a shorter week due to the Chinese New Year (CNY) long weekend, and yet it was still an uphill battle for me. My supervisor was not around this week as she was away visiting family for CNY, so based on the feedback from last presentation, I was tasked to further delve into understanding the epidemiology and clinical guidelines of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). I still get lost in the amount of information that is out there, but I feel myself being able to read faster and filter through information more precisely than the previous week. After reading through so many research papers, there is a real fatigue I feel after a day of “information saturation”. On the bright side, I really do enjoy reading and learning more about such a complex disease. There is always more to learn, but hopefully it will be enough to prepare for my updated presentation next week.

Week 1: Full of Firsts

19 January 2020

‘Firsts’ always fill me with anticipation. My first week of work for NCSG was no exception to that. Never had I even stepped foot into the office before my first day, so I truly had a blank canvas for expectations.

I was assigned to shadow the Clinical Manager, and work closely with her for all things related to clinical affairs. I only had a vague impression of what clinical affairs would entail, but I was excited to understand more about the responsibilities of this department. As part of my goals, I wanted to have a better understanding of the execution of clinical trials and to better understand a product development cycle in a start-up.

Right away, I sat in a meeting for the discussion of the timeline and tasks for clinical affairs and China business development. The COO, ran the meeting very systematically. I felt he was a very organized and meticulous man from the way he gave detailed comments to clarify each task that was presented, all down to the why, when, what, who and how. He gave comments at the appropriate breaks in the presentation, to avoid interrupting the speaker too many times. Lastly, he required that everyone standardize the way that the tasks were presented, such that we were all looking at a similar picture.

The tasks were organized in Gantt charts to illustrate the project schedule. I had never seen or used such a method before. Each main task had smaller specific tasks categorized under it, basically using decomposition, breaking down a complex problem into smaller problems– something I learnt in computational thinking. This way, tasks would not feel as overwhelming, could be completed in an organized manner.

My task for the week was to work on a clinical background presentation for a new area the company wished to expand into. Thankfully, my life science background had proven useful for my research. I gave the presentation at the end of our company retreat, which happened from Wednesday to Friday. I was glad to be able to get to know my entire team better through the retreat and the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) workshop. It had been a few years since I had last taken the test, but my reported type remained as an INFP.

To end off the week, I had received news that I was chosen as a winner in an essay competition to travel to Shanghai to meet with Jane Sun– CEO of China’s largest online hotel and travel agency group. I was exhilarated to be able to meet such an impressive woman in business.