A Product and Solution Architect shares why you’re never too young or too inexperienced to make a difference.
Growing up with an uncle who was a pilot, Charmaine has always been passionate about engineering and technology and was tremendously fascinated by how aeroplanes worked. Charmaine went on to major in Aeronautical Engineering, but eventually found her calling in Area Surveillance & Intrusion Detection, where she develops intuitive yet impactful security solutions for critical infrastructures.
“I’m a very hands-on person, and the role I have here is quite literally the perfect fit for me,” she says. “I don’t think there was an eureka moment that led me to this industry, it just felt natural!”.
Tell us more about your role, and what is it about ST Engineering that caught your attention and attracted you to begin your career here?
As a Product and Solution Architect at ST Engineering (Satcom & Sensors System), my primary role is to look at the solutions we have and think about how they can be applied to meet the security needs of critical infrastructures around the world. Working side by side with our customers every day allows me to understand their needs first-hand, anticipate problems of the future, and join forces with our engineers to find new ways and co-create solutions for tomorrow.
I am excited and thrilled that the role offered is a “hybrid” and bridging role that allowed me to get my hands dirty with developing new technologies, yet be involved in working closely with our customers to help bring a lens of clarity and simplicity to tailor the solutions and tools required.
3 years on, I have enjoyed every bit of it. I am inspired by the passion and drive of both the leaders and the team, as well as the open communication and dynamic environment.
Whenever I am facing a problem, I can always find someone who will be willing to give constructive feedback. They would never give me the answers to my questions, but they will encourage me to find my own solutions.
Could you tell us about a project that you have worked on at ST Engineering? What makes it exciting, and what are you most proud?
I was given the opportunity to work with a team to break into the Indian market. For a couple months I was travelling to India frequently, and working with core engineers to understand the regulatory, look at the various possible critical scenarios and propose solutions that best fit the customer’s needs. I am heartened that the hard work pays off as the fence and buried intrusion detection systems solutions deployed is now proven instinctive and confidence-inspiring for our customers.
I am honoured that this project marked our first foray in the South Asia market, and to ensure that our solutions have created a safer and more sustainable city.
Do you see a shift of increased in diversity and inclusion in the tech industry over the years?
Back when I was still in university, I was the only female in my graduating cohort of Aeronautical Engineering.
I never felt out of placed. In fact, I have taken it on as a driver to propel me to be more diligent in my work while ensuring continuous learning and engagement from my peers and industry experts. The inclusive and open culture, both at university and at work, enables me to voice out and share ideas and opinions, bringing my best self forward.
As a product architect, I work closely with the engineering, product development and sales department. It gives me an opportunity to truly understand the entire end-to-end business development, design, plan and build process.
I appreciate the collaborative yet diverse teammates. At times, my role entails being the bridge between two crucial functions in the organisation, to help enhance user interaction models and workflows, review usability and integrate intuitive designs into a cohesive user experience. It is heartening to see that amidst the different agendas of each function, we all have great, diverse ideas and same vision towards refining our products and solutions to drive success across the board.
Do I think that there is more diversity and inclusion in the tech industry today?
Yes! There is so much more awareness about women in tech today, such as YouTube videos that feature the day-to-day lives of female engineers, and stories online that tell the lives of inspiring female role models.
Do you know that Kevlar, a stronger-than-steel fibre that is used in bulletproof vests and body armour today, was invent by a female chemist Stephanie Kwolek today. Who would’ve thought that would be invented by a woman!
Just as such stories have continue to inspire and motivate me in the tech industry, I believe that in time more girls and women will be inspired to join engineering and tech too.
What advice do you have for students or fresh graduates who want to break into the tech industry?
Be open-minded, be driven and courageously push ahead in what you believe in, and always face your problems head on.
What is the one key change that you want to see in this decade?
I would like to see more tech innovation in the environmental and biomedical devices field. What is the point of technology if it does not improve the quality of human lives?
In view of climate change and the increased in space and hazardous waste, I hope more companies will dedicate resources and combine their know-how to help keep our earth sustainable, liveable.
Curious to know what is it like to be working in tech? Charmaine shares her view in this 2 minutes video:
Special thanks to Tzu Chi Humanistic Youth Centre (HYC) for the film location.