Be Authentic – Build Trusted Relationships

Li Meng

Senior Director of Public Affairs

A Senior Director of Public Affairs at ST Engineering (Chongqing) shares more about her experiences building a trusted and vibrant technology ecosystem between Singapore and China, and how authenticity shapes.

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 senior director of Public Affairs, I play a key role in driving stakeholders engagement for the company. This includes building and maintaining strong ties between our senior executives and key Government officials in China.

I have enjoyed every single moment at ST Engineering since it first began operations in Chong Qing in 2018. It’s a privilege to see and understand the operations of a global company, and I’m inspired by the organisation’s vision and quick strides in advancing world-class solutions – this was one of the key reasons why I took a plunge and decided to forge my career here. Today, I am glad that I play a part in making contributions that are meaningful and impactful to society and cities.

What do you enjoy most about working in technology? How inclusive is this industry?

I find myself drawn to the dynamism of the tech industry every single day. I have always been passionate about the technology since I was in school – the spirit of innovation, the speed of which tech is evolving at, to the people that is fuelling its exponential growth.

Case in point: my colleagues. It almost feel as though everyone in tech shares the same innovative spirit and drive to create and reinvent. There is never a dull moment, and it’s electrifying to work with like-minded individuals whom I can bounce off my ideas and energy with to stretch ourselves and push the limits of innovation.

Could you tell us about your most memorable career highlight?

As the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, and the same could be said for my career. When I first started in business development in my earlier career, it took me 10 months to get formally acquainted with all the key stakeholders. My efforts seeding the ground proved to be of value over the years of my career, as it’s through building trusted relationships that I manage to secure many winnings and establish long-term partnerships.

Joining ST Engineering in 2018 is one of the brightest spots in my career. In the bid of scaling and expanding the company’s footprint in Chongqing, I help spearheaded communications with the Chinese Chongqing Government, and build on a close working relationship between our organisation and the Government.

One honourable example would be the Smart China Expo 2019, a platform that encouraged global exchanges of smart technologies and cooperation to advance smart cities.

Leveraging this opportunity, our Chongqing office hosted and presented our smart city technologies and solutions to Singapore’s Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo during her trip to Chongqing. We showcased how our virtual reality, analytics and autonomous solutions empower people to connect, commute and learn efficiently and effectively – enabling a smarter, sustainable place to live, work and play.

I especially take pride that two Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) were also signed on that occasion – one with Yongchuan Big Data Industrial Park and Xinzhi Cognitive Digital Technology, while the other was with Xiantao International Big Data Valley for projects in CQ Yu Bei district. I was thrilled as I was fully involved in all the discussions leading up to the MOU signing, and oversaw the entire project from end-to-end.

With such strong sense of achievement, I felt that I had made a momentous leap not just in my career, but also help achieved a milestone for our organisation, and play a part in nurturing the bilateral state partnerships for smarter cities.

How do you think technology has evolved in China over the years and how can we help make a difference in time to come?

Innovation spurs productivity. China has made rapid advances in many areas including commercial applications and high-tech manufacturing and transformed itself to a global leader in technology over the years. More investments are also going into building railways and high-speed highways as China ramps up infrastructure investment to boost its slowing economy.

Our Chongqing subsidiary was set up to provide better local support for its metro rail, intelligent transportation and intelligent building management projects. I’m confident that as we continue to move forward in the fast-growing digital economy and expand our presence in China, our organisation will play an active role in enhancing China’s transport systems with its suite of intelligent solutions and capabilities.

What is the one key change that you want to see in this decade?

Yesterday’s science fiction is today’s reality. Real-life technological advancements in technology, big data and artificial intelligence are adding remarkable intelligence to cities. Technology will undoubtedly become an even bigger part of the fabric of our everyday lives in the next decade. I hope to see more public-private partnerships for tech-driven initiatives, the continued development of diverse technological applications, and upskilling and training of workers to fulfil our smart city goals.

What advice do you have for students or fresh graduates who want to break into the tech industry?

Be resilient. There will always be pressure working in a fast-paced environment, but it’s essential to learn how to embrace change and when you’re in the thick of the action. I’m a firm believer in the age-old adage “you reap what you sow”. Have a goal, persevere through the sea of disruption and you will see your ideas or dreams come to fruition in no time.

Be authentic. It is about nurturing relationships with our heart, and have genuine desire to grow, learn and be of value. At work, authenticity shapes great workplaces, where we inspire one another to do better, faster and be more inventive. As a trusted partner with our customers, I learnt that authenticity and empathy goes a long way. It is about stepping in their shoes, understanding their challenges, and staying focus on solving the problems.

The journey to advance into smarter cities is never ending, as new technology is ever evolving and emerging. Authenticity builds trust in relationships, especially in the dynamic tech industry, which are critical for performance, innovation and results.

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