Girls in Tech Singapore https://singapore.girlsintech.org Women. Technology. Entrepreneurship. Tue, 20 Aug 2019 03:26:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.2 https://singapore.girlsintech.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/45/2019/03/cropped-cropped-git-icon-2-32x32.png Girls in Tech Singapore https://singapore.girlsintech.org 32 32 #TechEd: GITSG x Sparkline partnership as viewed by an aspiring data analyst https://singapore.girlsintech.org/2019/08/19/teched-gitsg-x-sparkline-partnership-as-viewed-by-an-aspiring-data-analyst/ https://singapore.girlsintech.org/2019/08/19/teched-gitsg-x-sparkline-partnership-as-viewed-by-an-aspiring-data-analyst/#respond Mon, 19 Aug 2019 01:47:45 +0000 http://singapore.girlsintech.org/?p=14605

By Shweta Ramanujam, an aspiring Data analyst by profession. Shweta recently relocated to Singapore early this year and has been actively looking out for job opportunities in similar domain. Shweta has recently joined the Girls in Tech x Sparkline partnership launch event focused on data analytics education.


Being an absolute stranger to this gem of a country, I have been facing a lot of difficulties in landing myself a suitable job. After a little research online, I found out about this event hosted by Sparkline & Girls in Tech focused on Data Analytics and the involvement of Women interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths). This combination was a perfect reason for me wanting to attend and I wanted to share my key takeaways with you here.

Key Takeaways Girls in Tech x Sparkline partnership launch event:

  1. Confidence booster
  2. Self reflection
  3. Networking

On my way to the event, I had various thoughts running through the back of my mind: What to expect, how am I going to network with people there, how is the atmosphere  going to be and what am I going to get by attending this event?

With all this reverie in mind, I ended up at the doorstep of the event. As I entered, I was greeted by cheery people making the anxiety inside me slowly fade. It was truly a very relaxed atmosphere with people already networking.

Looking around I found some stalls set up by ‘Girls in Technology’, ‘Wantedly’ and ’Sparkline’ telling about what they do and what are the services they provide. After a short chat with all of them, the event started with Sarah Ann Rebello, HR & Education Partner from Sparkline giving an intro about the launch party and a chat with the CEO and co- founder of Sparkline – Aleetza Senn followed by Hayley Bakker – Managing director of Girls in Tech. The two women were truly an inspiration with the former telling about her experience on her career transition from being an actress to setting up her own company on Digital Analytics and the latter speaking about how she was the only female during her college days, how the gender gap got deeply etched into her mind.

This was followed by a presentation on tips and tricks on how to search for a job, finally followed by an experience shared by an employee from Sparkline addressing on the need to keep ourselves up to date in regards with technology.

The tips they had shared was an eye opener for me personally as I got to know what mistakes I was making, starting from the most basic one – resume. Listening to all these talks, the long lost confidence in me slowly started to build up.

After the rapid talk session, we got a chance to network with different people around. Overall a very satisfactory event for me being first timer to such events. Wrapping up the whole event and how satisfactory it was on a personal note are mentioned below.

Would I attend such an event again? Definitely yes!


To benefit from the GITSG x Sparkline partnership, use the code GIT_60OFFEDU_21CEN to get 50% discount on the Data Analytics training by Sparkline Training Academy and accelerate your career in this growing field.

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#SheSTEMS: Our women in tech is using technology to align cultural values https://singapore.girlsintech.org/2019/08/01/shestems-aligning-values/ https://singapore.girlsintech.org/2019/08/01/shestems-aligning-values/#respond Thu, 01 Aug 2019 13:27:26 +0000 http://singapore.girlsintech.org/?p=14599

Figuring out your optimal career environment
When choosing the right company for you, it really does take two to tango

For those that know dance, the tango is a ‘apasionada’ dance between two people. But what if both people, who are equally good dancers, are just out of sync?  Agreed, it is definitely hard to look at, but who is actually to blame? As the saying goes, ‘it takes two to tango!’

Now, I want to use this analogy in a different context. Let’s say the dance partners are a company and an employee, and they both have different values. Or, they don’t even know what their values are! Is this a situation you are familiar with?

Find out your workstyle  and figure out which company will help you flourish

As Sjiva De Meester can confirm, you are not alone.  Sjiva is the Founder & Director of 9 Yards Innovation, a boutique consulting firm based in Singapore. She is also the pioneer of 2 2 Tango (say it out loud), which is a brilliant test that helps people figure out their workstyle and give them direction on the types of companies that will help them flourish! All you need to get started is your LinkedIn Profile, resume and 5 minutes to choose certain characteristics important to you.

Before meeting Sjiva, I decided to take the 22Tango Test myself. After inputting in the above details, it whipped out my results and I was pleasantly surprised how accurate it was. The three top characteristics were ‘Discipline, Standards and Structure’. Wow, that’s all the proof I needed to start loosening up a bit!

I loved the algorithm that used the results to highlight my strengths, weaknesses and some advice on how to use or improve them.

But, the most valuable feature for me were the tips on how to boost my resume with a recruiter eye in mind. Also, because it is connected to my LinkedIn it keeps my results. I’m extremely interested to see how I compare when I take the test next year.

What happens when you have a mismatch between your values and an organisation?

As a matter of fact, Sjiva kicked-off 22Tango because of her husband. “One day I noticed that my husband was less motivated to go work” she explains.  “He was in bed longer and did not seem to enjoy his time at work anymore. Whilst he had the skills to do the job well, his work environment had values much different to his. The organisation was more concerned about stability, following rules and running a well-oiled machine, while my husband wanted to do something new and innovative, and achieve results fast!”

Sjiva points out that “this is an example of a fundamental mismatch in values that affected him despite being qualified for the job. He then changed jobs to a more entrepreneurial yet collaborative company where he was able to do ‘new’ and ‘innovative’ things”

These reflections sent Sjiva on a mission to create a tool that could potentially use culture as the driving force of matching candidates with companies and vice versa.

“When you align the individual and company’s values:

  1. employees will be more productive and satisfied, and
  2. companies tend to achieve better results.

That being said, a company also need to consider their workstyle diversity, especially when innovation is key”.

So, whether it is you or the company creating a scene on the dance floor, take the 22Tango Test, to get you on your way to finding that ‘perfect’ partner.

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#StartHer: Serial entrepreneur sharing her learnings from success & failure https://singapore.girlsintech.org/2019/08/01/women-entrepreneurs-adaface/ https://singapore.girlsintech.org/2019/08/01/women-entrepreneurs-adaface/#respond Thu, 01 Aug 2019 13:03:50 +0000 http://singapore.girlsintech.org/?p=14594

Women tech entrepreneurs changing the world

GITSG sat down for a coffee & a chat with Deepti Chopra, founder of Adaface. 

Adaface is Deepti’s tech baby that helps companies identify top candidates for all tech roles fast. Together with her co-founder, Deepti has created a friendly bot named Ada. Ada saves crucial engineering time by screening candidates with custom assessments for on-the-job skills.  

Deepti shares her early experiences as an entrepreneur – right from her learning’s at her first startup, Job-Hash, her curious stint at Pizza Hut, her good days & bad days at Adaface – and everything in between! Read on and you won’t need your daily shot of caffeine, as Deepti’s go-getter attitude & stories are enough to energize and are stronger than your morning cuppa!  

What inspired you to start Adaface?

I have always been attracted to the HR Tech space; I think it’s mostly because even though it’s a very “boring” space, it’s not always for young software engineers who want to make a difference. The impact you can make in HR tech is huge. People spend most of their life at work, and if you can contribute in the smallest way to helping them find work that makes them feel like its relevant, important & that they’re contributing in some way – you can’t beat that!

Why the name “Ada”?

The name Ada was given by my co-founder, and it comes from Ada Lovelace who was considered the world’s first computer programmer. She theorized a lot of methods that modern computers use, which is why we thought the name Ada would be apt.

How has an apparent failure set you up for later success? Or do you have a favourite failure?

It’s always a tricky thing! Everybody tries to glamourize failure now because that’s the thing to do. Sometimes failure is just failure & that’s what it was. When I was working on my first startup – Job-Hash, there was a huge opportunity cost to it as well, but that being said there were a few learnings. A lot of the decisions that we are making at Adaface today come from those learnings. Just small things like-

  • Don’t give away the product for free.
  • Knowing the importance of having a co-founder.
  • When I was at Job-Hash I didn’t have a full-time co-founder.
  • Focusing on the product & sales, as opposed to focusing too much on the tech.
  • You’re not building a research project; you’re building a company!

I was just out of college when I started Job-Hash, so it’s very easy to just sit in a room, keep writing code and keep overthinking algorithms but that’s not really what helps. Sometimes you just learn the hard way!

If you had to give a fresh college graduate who is about to start their career or entrepreneurial path any advice, what would it be?

A lot of people feel like they’re stuck in the wrong job or with the wrong major, and they may feel like it’s going to be like that forever. Most people don’t realize they have the power to change that. If there is anything you want to do, you can do it. Of course, there are some exceptions – [jokes]

If you’re as short as me then it’s a bit hard for me to get into the NBA. But almost everything else is very achievable, given a bit of time.

When you feel challenged or have a bad day as an entrepreneur, what do you do to get back on your feet?

It depends on how bad it is! Sometimes it’s just “normal-bad” and you can fix it by taking a short walk or talking on the phone for a bit. As an entrepreneur, the advice you get is to always put on a brave face, that you have to keep doing things irrespective of the rejections you are facing no matter how bad things get. But sometimes it can get really bad, and this works for me – some day’s you just need to pack up, go home and shut off your brain. Maybe it’s just Netflix, and then you come back tomorrow morning to fix whatever needs to be fixed. You just need to evaluate how bad it is.

“Having a co-founder also really helps! Both of you can share how terrible it is and then it feels much more okay!”  

In the last 3 years, is there any habit, new belief or behavior that has improved your daily life?

One of the things over the last few months would be just worrying a bit less! Taking it one day at a time. In the very early days of Adaface I would wake up with panic attacks every day – I used to worry about random things like customers churning, servers going down, just about anything. I’ve stopped worrying so much & just knowing that you’re going to be fine helps a lot! My approach to a lot of things I do in life is – “what’s the worst that could happen?”

You’ve been a co-founder at Job-Hash, worked at Pizza Hut & now are a co-founder at Adaface. If you had to summarize one key take away & learning from each experience- what would it be?

Job-Hash: Learning that if you stick to your comfort zone, you can achieve almost nothing.

Pizza Hut: This was something I just did out of a whim, I was curious about it. As a kid growing up in India it was just another world & I come from a very protected family where you are always safe. So I just wanted to try it out & that was pretty much it. There was no grand scheme. A small part of this was getting out of my comfort zone but a bigger part of this was just curiosity.

PS: It’s a huge conversation starter, just try something that other people haven’t. It gives you an interesting experience to share. Adaface: Right now I’m just trying to live one day at a time. You have to have a long-term plan, but worry in the short term.

In your experience with Adaface so far, could you share the highest high?

You can spend months building a product that nobody wants, it’s better to just go out and sell 15 different things to see what people buy & then just go build that.

There have been high points, but it’s more like when you are working towards the high point & once the high point comes it doesn’t feel that high anymore! There were a few things, like the first sale we made was very special because we just had an idea and we didn’t have any product, and we just thought it is something we should try and sell and see if anybody buys it – then we will build it. You can spend months building a product that nobody wants, it’s better to just go out and sell 15 different things to see what people buy & then just go build that. This is another thing I didn’t know during Job-Hash- so I spent months building a product that I didn’t end up selling to as many customers, and that’s another learning from Job-Hash.

Do you have any tips or food for thought for other girls in tech out there?

You can make anything that you want to see happen, happen. As long as you put focused efforts.  

Sometimes you just spend days worrying about how you are going to get out of a job or switch careers – it’s better to either find somebody else who has done it & work with them to see how you can do that as well. There’s no dearth of inspiration if you go out looking for it, there are so many resources online. Sometimes you just need to do it instead of worrying about it. It is going to take time, you are not going to learn how to code in 1 day, and you are going to have to spend 3-6 months to a year – just an example. Anything you want to do takes time, but in the grand scheme of things over a 50-year career it’s better to spend 1 year to try and make that switch as opposed to being stuck with a job or a degree you don’t want!

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#TechEd The Lavender Spaceship Project: Sparking a love for STEM that will last a lifetime https://singapore.girlsintech.org/2019/07/01/the-lavender-spaceship-project/ https://singapore.girlsintech.org/2019/07/01/the-lavender-spaceship-project/#respond Mon, 01 Jul 2019 08:58:33 +0000 http://singapore.girlsintech.org/?p=14567

Lavender Spaceship Project x Girls in Tech Singapore

Girls in Tech Singapore absolutely loves the work that Pranati is doing through The Lavender Spaceship Project and believe our community will too. Together we aim to spark a love for STEM in our girls at an early age that will last a life time.

Girls in Tech Singapore partners with Lavender Spaceship Project

We are so thrilled to announce our partnership with The Lavender Spaceship Project! Through this partnership we aim to bring technology and especially coding enrichment to our communities youngest – your daughters.

The jobs of the future will require STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) skills, which go beyond the knowledge of science and mathematics. The application of knowledge with the ability to demonstrate computational thinking, design thinking, prototyping, coding and robotics in new contexts will be vital.

Research and statistics show that sadly, girls begin to lose interest in STEM as they get older. By the time they reach high school, they have self-selected out of STEM courses due to lack of interest. In fact, even if these girls choose STEM courses, they are less likely to pursue a STEM career as compared to their male counterparts.

If you can relate to this, you are not alone. So, what can be done to motivate your girls, your daughters? To begin with, we could provide them with the right environment and opportunities to foster the love for STEM at an early age. And that is exactly what The Lavender Spaceship Project (TLSP) has set out to do. Read more from TLSP founder Pranati here.

Get your daughters to explore their natural curiosity, creativity, and intellectual strength and develop their love for all things STEM.

Providing an enrichment program for STEM ready girls

The Lavender Spaceship project is Singapore’s first STEM learning platform for primary and middle school girls. TLSP is dedicated to improving and sustaining STEM skills among young girls by providing after-school enrichment program in a supportive and friendly environment.

We believe that if we expose the girls to an experience conducive of STEM learning early on, they will make informed career choices when they are in higher grades. We encourage the girls to develop growth mindset, a “can do” attitude and an affinity towards technology and engineering. Here more from our girls perspective here.

How can you bring STEM and The Lavender Spaceship Project to your girls?

This year GITSG and TLSP have collaborated on family day events, bringing parents and their daughters together to code. The program includes coding, robotics and engineering projects for different age groups and experience levels. The intention is to give girls a holistic experience of what STEM is all about. The program makes use of the latest edu-tech tools, to make lessons interesting and fun for the girls. Think of using ozobot to create a self-navigating bot, python to develop their own game, lego for robotics, the opportunities are endless.

If you are looking to bring STEM to your girls in a fun and interactive way, whether at school or at a family-day at work, reach out to TLSP or GITSG to learn more.

“All parents of girls need to watch this amazing TedTalk on ‘Inspiring the Next Generation of Female Engineers’ here” – Pranati Bagchi

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#TechTalk: Women in blockchain are making waves https://singapore.girlsintech.org/2019/07/01/tech-talk/ https://singapore.girlsintech.org/2019/07/01/tech-talk/#respond Mon, 01 Jul 2019 04:07:45 +0000 http://singapore.girlsintech.org/?p=14560 Women in tech are making waves

GITSG grabs a coffee with Yuree Hong, founder of SheBlockchainersAsia

Yuree is a deep tech and blockchain enthusiast, who has been featured on Forbes and CNBC. Born in South Korea, she is the founder of Ampliv, a deep tech communications consultancy and SHE Blockchainers, the inaugural women in blockchain initiative in Asia, both of which came to inception in 2017. Yuree humbly shares her great passion for blockchain and introduces it as the future of decentralised network and alternative financing methodologies. So what drove her passion for Blockchain?  And how does she keep her technology skills relevant?

How did you find your passion in technology?

The technology adoption cycle is getting shorter and shorter every moment. The regulations in each country of the world will be a focal issue in the next few years, and I believe this will accelerate the steep curve of growth for blockchain in the technology adoption cycle in the next few years.

Prior to becoming a tech CEO, she spent over ten years of working experience in technology startups, Korean Telecom and agencies where she was the brains of digital marketing. Yuree enjoys working with people with diverse tech backgrounds when she lived in Australia, the UK and Asia. More recently this year, she was nominated as Women in IT Award 2019 Finalist for Diversity Initiatives & Woman of the Year in Singapore.

What made you decide to pursue Blockchain?

I began to study blockchain technology in 2017, attending seminars and events to gain knowledge from experts in the blockchain industry. During a blockchain seminar, I looked around and realized that I was the only lady at the blockchain event of about a hundred people! I decided to start SHE Blockchainers Asia about two years ago, with the aim to gather and educate like-minded people, share blockchain with others, especially ladies who are new to this technology.

My strategy is to gather a panel of female technology speakers for monthly seminars, and invite more females at blockchain seminars. The aim is to create more awareness on blockchain and share benefits of using blockchain with women. Slowly, our events started to grow and we organised meetups and collaborated with blockchain, tech and finance conferences worldwide. Our collective community grew more than 2,000 (Facebook 900+, Meetup 500+, Newsletter 600+), primarily based in Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea, US, and Europe.

“I want to challenge the perception that there are few qualified women in the blockchain space.

About the role of women in blockchain space…

“Partnerships and unification among all women working in the blockchain industry is vastly important. ”

      

How do you keep your technology skills relevant?

I read a lot especially on my topics of interest like blockchain and cryptocurrency. Two years in blockchain is like 20 years in the real world. In an era where technology is ever changing, it is important that we stay relevant. Right now, I am most dedicated to Blockchain tech research and tokenisation consulting. My advice to aspiring tech ladies would be to read, learn and practice!

“The blockchain and cryptocurrency industry showed vigorous growth in the past 1-2 years. It is important that we stay relevant.”

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced?

At present, the industries involving blockchain technology attract more males than females; finance, deep tech etc. The blockchain and crypto space needs a more inclusive environment if we want to make the new technology achieve mass adoption and bring about revolutionary change. This could be delivered by not only numerous surveys and research studies but also practices in real businesses.

I set up SHE Blockchainers Asia, with the aim of bridging the gender diversity gap by contributing to the inclusive environment development. Many blockchain events draw fewer number of the women participation, however, we usually have at least 30 to 40 percent of the female attendees at our events so far. I also launched www.ampliv.io that is a multimedia knowledge sharing platform that offers an easy access to complicated information in the deep tech and finance industry. Together, we analyse how deep tech involving blockchain and cryptocurrency will change life in the future via creative mass communication.

 “The blockchain and cryptocurrency industry needs more female participation to support diversification in development of ideas and it will be integral to the growth of the industry.”

What would you recommend to other aspiring (women) blockchainers?
  • Find the right motivation. Put your goals on paper and work towards it. I set out to learn more about technology and that helped me to find my passion in blockchain. Surround yourself with people who are interested on the same technology and can motivate you.
  • Don’t be afraid to start. Everyone has to start somewhere. Your knowledge is yours to build, don’t shy away from networking opportunities. Meet new people, discuss latest technology and share new ideas.
  • Keep on learning. I constantly keep myself up to date with what is happening in the industry by reading, watching YouTube tutorials, speaking to like-minded people. I seize every opportunity to learn and that helped me to find my passion in blockchain. Knowledge sharing is a proven way to learn. It is so important to keep learning so don’t stop!

“Collective work is required when it comes to a higher level of technology development though, as it requires the sharing of ideas from the minds of many people of various backgrounds.”

Have questions or looking for advice? Reach out!

Do you have any questions for Yuree or the Girls in Tech team about blockchain, new technologies or otherwise? Feel free to post your question in the comment below or send them to hayley.bakker@girlsintech.org. You can register and find future Meetups organised by SHEBlockchainersAsia below.

About us

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#StartHer: From lawyer to tech startup entrepreneur, she did it! Flora shares her story and tips. https://singapore.girlsintech.org/2019/06/18/starther/ https://singapore.girlsintech.org/2019/06/18/starther/#respond Tue, 18 Jun 2019 08:06:24 +0000 http://singapore.girlsintech.org/?p=14527

Women tech entrepreneurs changing the world

“I had an idea, a solid background in law and was curious about what technology can do to transform the way we practise law. With that, I decided to become a legal tech entrepreneur.”

GITSG grabs a coffee with Flora Suen-Krujatz

Flora has co-founded a company in Singapore, Narus, which develops smart knowledge management solutions for legal teams to build, maintain and capitalise on their know-how. Narus has a small but growing team of specialists, including a computer scientist focusing on machine learning and a research scientist with a physics background specialising in computer simulations, probabilistic models and convolutional neural networks. Flora herself has spent nearly a decade practising corporate law in Europe and Asia before founding Narus. What drove her to start her own company? And how did she prepare for and overcome some of the challenges she encountered? Here are some of her learnings.

 

 

What made you decide to become an entrepreneur at your own startup?

Becoming an entrepreneur did not feel like abruptly ending my legal career.  Instead, it felt like a natural progression.  During my years in private practice, I experienced first-hand the manual and inefficient processes of building, maintaining and retrieving institutional knowledge. I later turned into a knowledge lawyer. In some ways, I was the human solution to the problem that Narus aims to solve with technology.

Very soon, I realised that I could do a lot more for this role if I stepped outside and built something from scratch.  I am still working on the same problem, but with a very different set of tools and with an entirely new perspective. I did not have a technology background, but I thought I had what was needed to get started: An idea, a solid background in law and enough curiosity about what technology can do to transform the way we practise law.  And with that, I decided to join Entrepreneur First – a talent investor that supports entrepreneurs in building start-ups.

“Everyone will come to a point in their career where they need to decide to continue on their current path or take a step aside to get a new perspective.”

How did you come up with the idea of a knowledge management solution?

A lawyer’s core asset is his know-how.  But there are almost no dedicated tools that help manage it.  That was pretty evident to me right from the start of my career.

However, as a young professional, you hardly have time to pause and seriously think about how to improve the processes you are involved in.  Only after joining Entrepreneur First, I had the opportunity to further refine my idea. I spoke to many colleagues and other entrepreneurs active in this and related fields.  These discussions helped shape the product and define the industry vertical: initially I thought our product would mainly be for legal departments in large companies; our customer base now grew to include government agencies and law firms.

“While the product evolved over time, as it should, my framework is still the same as when I started off”

Flora about the difference between being a corporate lawyer & tech entrepreneur…

“As an entrepreneur, you need to constantly think outside the box for new solutions.  Repeating well-established processes is usually not enough.  This can be exhausting at times, but also hugely rewarding when you succeed!”

I use my legal skills daily as all the data we work with is law related. Having worked in professional services, I am also accustomed to working in a structured and professional manner.  This is quite important when you want to attract corporates and other highly professional organisations as potential customers.

As to the differences, as an entrepreneur you need to constantly think outside the box for new solutions.  Repeating well-established processes is usually not enough.  This can be exhausting at times, but also hugely rewarding when you succeed!

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced?

At the beginning, dealing with rejections was a challenge for me. I reached out to numerous potential customers and naturally received a lot of rejections.  As a young corporate lawyer, there is always enough work for you and your sweat and suffering is usually appreciated.  As an entrepreneur, you first need to generate that work.  As time passed, I began putting rejections into perspective: companies simply have other priorities, different challenges or the timing might just be off.

Another challenge was dealing with uncertainty.  As an entrepreneur, there are so many things beyond your control.  I started focusing on things that I can control.  For instance, I cannot control whether a client ultimately signs up for our services, but I can control that we deliver the best possible service to our existing customers and that the pipeline of new potential targets is always full.

“Dealing with rejection and uncertainty are some of my greatest challenges. While I have found ways of dealing with this, I still find it difficult”

What would you recommend to other aspiring (women) entrepreneurs?
  • Build relationships and trust. Being an entrepreneur is constantly working with new and existing customers, your team and your investors. You need to be able and willing to build strong relationships and mutual trust.  It’s about finding people that share the same goals and you can work together with. I went to a lot of conferences or otherwise simply put myself out there. I love my customers! We get along very well and are working towards the same goals.
  • Find your support group. Having a support group is important. For example, I am part of a small lean-in circle for Women in Law. It is such a safe environment to exchange experiences and ideas.  Support from family and friends is also essential. Credit goes to my husband here!
  • Be humble and patient. Getting customers on board is challenging. In particular in the B-2-B space, where you often have lengthy tender and screening processes. Being new to the market, we had to show what we could do better than others before signing a contract. So we have run complimentary pilots to showcase our solutions. This has proven to be a really good way to get our foot in the door and convince our prospective customers.

“Being an entrepreneur is mostly about building relationships and trust with clients, investors and your team.”

 

Are you looking for advice on anything? Reach out!

Do you have any questions for Flora or the Girls in Tech team about (tech) entrepreneurship or otherwise? Feel free to post your question in the comment below or send them to hayley.bakker@girlsintech.org.

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#SheStems: How to transition your career path into tech? Four tips from Katie. https://singapore.girlsintech.org/2019/06/18/shestems/ https://singapore.girlsintech.org/2019/06/18/shestems/#respond Tue, 18 Jun 2019 07:38:27 +0000 http://singapore.girlsintech.org/?p=14518

Sharing the diversity of women in STEM

“I’ve had the trip of a lifetime working in startups. Now it’s time to refocus, invest in myself, and learn some new skills”

GITSG grabs a coffee with Katie Dumergue

Katie has worked at some of the most prominent consumer tech startup companies in Singapore including RedMart, Grab and Uber. She is married to a fellow kiwi and has a ten-month-old baby boy. She has recently decided to take a break from work to spend time with her baby, invest in learning some new skills and volunteer for Girls in Tech Singapore.

 

 

Did you always know you wanted to work in a technology startup?

Not at all! I actually studied a Bachelor of Property and my first job was as a Construction Project Manager in New Zealand. I was one of only two women in the entire office, it was the definition of a male dominated environment. I was frequently the only woman in the meeting room, but I quickly learnt to find my voice, and that I needed to take a seat at the table both literally and figuratively.

“Do you want to have your managers job? If not, it is time to look further.”

What made you decide to move from construction into tech industry?

One day, I simply asked myself what I was working towards. Did I really want my managers job? When I realised the answer was no, it became clear it was time for something new. To help decide on my next career move, I focused on what my passions are. It’s honestly no secret to my family and friends that I really enjoy online retail, I’m always on Pinterest and Amazon, checking out the great sales in the US, and even sourcing the best deals for my friends online. In 2015, online shopping was only really just becoming popular in Singapore, so being able to buy groceries with an app and have them delivered to your door was honestly a game-changer. Redmart’s mission to help its customers ‘save time and money for the important things in life’ really resonated with me, so it was the perfect company to transition to.

“The end of your story has not been written… it is up to you to decide”

Without a tech background was it difficult to move into the tech industry?

Yes and no. I joined Redmart in a part-time data input role, so it was a strange feeling having to start again back at the bottom of the ladder. However it honestly didn’t bother me, and I relished the opportunity to experience an exciting, fast-paced company. I even surprised myself by constantly coming up with new ideas to improve the app, and within a few weeks I was offered a full-time role as an Operations Lead, working directly with the product teams. For the first time in my life I truly loved going to work every day. Up until that point, I didn’t realise how many non-tech roles are available in tech companies, and I wish I had made the transition sooner.

When I later joined Uber, I joined the Regional Community Operations team, and later switched to Regional Operations. Both roles were super focused on improving the customer experience; we used data to develop insights into the complex issues affecting our customers, and then worked with the relevant local or global teams to address them through operational or product improvements.

I held a similar role at Grab; I just really enjoy acting as the voice of the customer to improve the product experience, and find it truly rewarding to be able to improve the app experience for thousands of users at a time.

“Almost 75% of roles at Uber are non-technology roles.”

About the working environment at tech startups…

“Everyone should read the bookGRIT: The Power of Passion and Perseverance’ and especially if you are working in a startup”

I don’t think there is one culture across the tech startup scene, as each company I worked for (Redmart, Uber, Grab) was quite different. What was common across all, was that no day was the same, and that you’re often working on tricky problems that haven’t been tackled before. You have to be flexible, and most of all, you must have grit. For sure, especially when I first started, there were many times that I wanted to quit, as the breadth of responsibilities and the sheer scale of the workload can be intense. There were many times when I couldn’t leave the house even on weekends without my laptop, and of course we would work past midnight on New Years Eve, one of the busiest days of the year. Taking things one day at a time, and just showing up to the game, week after week got me through. I’m definitely a stronger person as a result.

About the role of women in tech startup companies…

“Women within organisations supporting other women is so powerful”

At Uber I had the most amazing female manager. She was an outstanding communicator, and ensured that everyone in her team was reaching their full potential, setting strong goals and then helping us achieve them. She was so much more aligned and tuned into my experience than my previous managers, and showed me how powerful women supporting women in the workplace can be.

We were also both core members of the regional ‘Women of Uber’ employee resource group, where we used a data-driven approach to identify challenges being faced by women within the organisation. More importantly, we then worked with leadership directly to implement strategies and plans to create awareness for and overcome issues that women face in the workplace. One example was improved goal-setting and performance tracking, which then increased transparency and equality in career progression. Other examples include manager training on ‘unconscious bias‘, and access to mentors within the company. It’s so important to be able to access that data though, and I think that more companies should practice radical transparency in order to push for positive change.

 

Katie’s recommendations for women moving into the tech startup industry…

  • Embrace your skills. Don’t be scared off by the fact that you don’t have a tech background.  For instance, at Uber about 75% of roles are non-tech. Instead of being intimidated, simply break down the role into its individual components, and reflect how your skills, background and experience align. If you have knowledge gaps, upskilling is always recommended; I’m a firm believer in #AlwaysBeImproving!
  • Try different things. Unlike previous generations, now you don’t have to choose one job for the rest of your life. The world is changing at such a fast pace, with new opportunities being created every day, and there’s really never been a better time to explore working in a tech company. It is more than ok to try different things, in fact I would encourage it, especially early on in your career.
  • Invest in yourself. Having worked non-stop for the last 12 years, I think it’s time for a break! Half that time I want to use to spend quality time with my family and especially my baby. The other half, I want to invest in developing myself. I’m looking forward to taking a photography course, heading to Bali for some yoga, and becoming certified as a Project Management Professional (PMP). In the longer term, the one company I would honestly love to work at would be Google. Being surrounded by so many talented minds, all working to improve people’s lives on such a huge scale, and with so many different products would be a dream come true.
  • Believe in yourself. Quite often, we are our own worst critic. Instead, we need to learn how to set ourselves up for success. Create a support network that believes in you, and learn what it means to have grit. When things get tough, don’t give up too soon, anything worthwhile is going to be hard. But when you eventually achieve those hard goals, the feeling of success is so rewarding.

“Your career is a jungle gym not a ladder. Sometimes you need to take a step to the side or slide down to get where you need to go”

Do you have any questions or are you looking for advice? Reach out!

Do you have any questions for Katie, or the Girls in Tech team, about working in technology, startups, your career or otherwise? Feel free to post your question in the comment below or send them to hayley.bakker@girlsintech.org.

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Volunteers You Rock! Our GITSG appreciation and engagement event: Celebrating our priceless volunteers. https://singapore.girlsintech.org/2019/05/15/volunteers-you-rock-our-gitsg-appreciation-and-engagement-event-celebrating-our-priceless-volunteers/ https://singapore.girlsintech.org/2019/05/15/volunteers-you-rock-our-gitsg-appreciation-and-engagement-event-celebrating-our-priceless-volunteers/#respond Wed, 15 May 2019 10:14:07 +0000 http://singapore.girlsintech.org/?p=14477 By Hayley Bakker

As our new co-Managing Director at Girls in Tech Singapore, Hayley is set on meeting our amazing community at as many occasions as possible. What better way to kick this off, than to host the very first, but certainly not the last, GITSG volunteer appreciation event – An opportunity for our valued volunteers to meet up and get inspired and to share our appreciation for all contributions throughout the year. She shares her takeaways from this event.


Having always worked in ‘for profit’ organisations, co-leading Girls in Tech in Singapore is definitely a new experience for me. One of the first questions I raised was how GITSG has been able to organise so many events with a board of just six members, who have taken on this role on top of their ‘day jobs’. At that point I was bombarded with names – ‘Ashley’ – ‘Sarah’ – ‘Vinny’ – etc. –  of so many fabulous individuals who help us out on a regular basis. Upon further research I was pleasantly surprised to discover a ‘Volunteer List’ containing over a hundred names. And an idea was born: to kick off with a volunteer appreciation and engagement event. I could not wait to meet all the lovely people on this list in real life!

To truly show our appreciation we kicked off the evening with some vino and finger-foods with an amazing rooftop view of the sunsetting over Singapore. Luckily I was able to speak to each and everyone of the arriving volunteers to hear their stories and understand ‘what makes them tick’. I met volunteers from so many diverse backgrounds, but all aligned behind one mission ‘to promote and support women in STEM reach their aspirations’!

Looking Back…

As part of the event we reflected on our 2018 past year events including nine GITSG events and five partner events with almost 400 unique community members joining us! We also took some time to high-light some of our shining stars amongst our volunteers. Three GITST certificates were awarded to some of our special contributors.

#OverAndAbove was awarded to James Campbell-Grant for his exceptional contribution to our GITSG Mentorship Program last year. As part of the six month program, James showed his dedication by attending and actively contributing to all workshops, networking events as well as his dedicated mentee meets.

#ConstantContributor was awarded, as a special thank you, to Anjuli Gopalakrishna for her diverse contributions to GITSG. Anjuli has been one of our writer contributors as well as a speaker at our events and we are excited to keep her on in the coming year.

#BiggestBroadcaster was awarded to one of our wonderful volunteer board member Lynette Pathy. Those of you who actively follow our Facebook page and the thread of relevant and inspiring articles that she curates and shares with our community on an (almost) daily basis. One of the many, too many to mention, things she does for GITSG!
 And did I mention their was a special cake: Strawberry, rose, with butterscotch vanilla frosting!

Looking ahead…

For the second part of our event, before the chatting, drinking and eating continued, we took the opportunity to share our plans for GITSG in 2019! The key idea here was to inspire our old and new volunteers to collaborate in the year ahead and gain ideas on how we can make these and other events a success.

“How about a fashion technology bootcamp where we help girls create clothes that respond to sound. The more excited the audience gets, the brighter the clothes light up.”

Safe to say, enough inspiration was firing at this point! And we are looking forward to turning these ideas and others into action for our community.

“As a starting freelancer I remember feeling so lost. I was constantly reinventing the wheel. If I could only tell younger self what I know now. We should provide starting freelancers with a starters toolkit!”

These are only a few of the invigorating stories I heard and people I met at our ‘Volunteers You Rock!” event. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to work with all of you to make an impact for our community of women in STEM in Singapore.

 

Check out our Event Calendar where we share out 2018 recap and will be actively updating our 2019 planned events. If you were not able to attend our event but are keen to contribute in some way or form this year, feel free to reach out!


About the author

Hayley is an engineer with a strong belief that girls and women can do and achieve everything that men can. Hayley has worked in M&A, Consulting and Banking industry. Currently she is an entrepreneur, setting up and managing technology teams for and with technology start-ups in Singapore. She is passionate to support aspiring entrepreneurs! Connect with her hayley.bakker@girlsintech.org

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Serial entrepreneurship and half the sky – an interview with human capital expert Sabrina Ho https://singapore.girlsintech.org/2019/03/05/half-the-sky-sabrina-ho/ https://singapore.girlsintech.org/2019/03/05/half-the-sky-sabrina-ho/#respond Tue, 05 Mar 2019 12:51:48 +0000 http://singapore.aprilrieger.tech/?p=2014
Sabrina Ho, founder of half the sky.

Girls in Tech Singapore (GITSG) kicks off a week celebrating women with Sabrina Ho – serial entrepreneur, human capital expert and founder of half the sky (HTS). HTS is a career platform for women; its mission is to level the playing field for women at work, and help companies that care to build a diverse talent pipeline.

Could you give us a background of your entrepreneurial beginnings? What motivates you to set up half the sky?

I was working in large executive search companies in Hong Kong and Singapore for over ten years and getting disappointed with the culture and transactional nature in large recruitment firms. I decided to embark on my first entrepreneurial venture setting up a recruitment practice, the leap into entrepreneurship was scary for me and it required a massive shift in mindset going from a paid employee to managing my own business and dealing with hiring, payroll, marketing, legal, corporate tax etc.

However, it’s also prepared me mentally for my next entrepreneurial venture, which is half the sky a career platform for women. Having been in the recruitment industry for the past ten years, I’ve witnessed the unique challenges female candidates faced in the workforce, this deeply motivated me to utilize technologies to set up a platform where female candidates can find better job opportunities and equip them with information and data to enable them to make informed career choices. Hence, halftheskyasia.com is born!

Banner for halftheskyasia.com

Is there a reason for the name half the sky?

Yes, being from Hong Kong, my dad always used to tell me when I was young: “敢於鬥爭,敢於勝利,婦女能頂半邊天.” – which translates into “Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win, Women Hold Up Half The Sky. This always struck a chord in my mind as a very powerful proverb that could not be more relevant for today’s push for female empowerment and inclusion!

The name is reflective of my upbringing as I was fortunate to have parents who always motivated me to be whatever, I wanted to be and follow my dreams – half the sky for me is a representation that women can do anything they set their mind to and gender equality is essential especially in the workforce, hence we hold up “half the sky”.

Along your entrepreneurial journey, what are the difficulties/obstacles that you have met and overcome? Is there any unforgettable incident that stuck?

Over the years I’ve faced many challenges to be honest; the biggest I can recall was losing a quarter of a million dollars in sales in a week as one by one my deals collapsed – it really knocked my self-confidence but luckily, I picked myself back up from this to come back stronger.

I would also say that building my new venture half the sky, is probably the most challenging and the steepest learning curve I’ve experienced, as everything is out of my comfort zone; from putting together a team to build the platform from scratch and handling the technology side of issues, community building, and social media marketing etc. However, as Ginni Rometty (CEO of IBM) said: – “Growth and Comfort Do Not Coexist!”, this motto has continuously kept me going.

What are your future business goals? What changes or improvements can users and customers anticipate in the next two to five years?

I truly believe that the biggest challenge for corporates now and in the future is getting access to skilled talent in this fast-changing global economy – and female talents are especially underserved.

Traditional recruitment practices do not meet the needs of female talents and current and emerging challenges that they face, although we are in the early stages of the platform, my main goal is to build a community with utility. I hope we can make a difference in female professional lives, by being a trusted and resourceful go-to career portal helping them to find better jobs at companies that care.

I hope in the next two to five years we can grow into more Asian countries and introduce new technologies to the platform such as augmented reality (AR) to enhance the user experience to become a truly digitized leading career finder and adviser for female talents.

What role does technology currently play in your entrepreneurship journey? Has it made achieving your vision/ideas easier or harder?

Technology is an essential part of my entrepreneurial journey, although I’m not technically trained in software design for example – I have had to quickly learn the basics and principles to try and keep up to speed in what is always a fast-changing environment.

I personally think as the economy transitions into a digital economy any entrepreneur today has to have a tech focus, without one how can you reach an audience of millions or potentially billions of people? Although we are still very early in our venture, we have already seen the breadth and depth of reach that technology offers – which could never have been achieved using traditional methods.

half the sky posts insights and thought leadership from female industry and tech leaders on its social media to empower and inspire. https://www.facebook.com/pg/halftheskyasia/

What’s one piece of advice you would like to give to encourage women to pursue entrepreneurship?

Firstly, entrepreneurship is not for everybody, one thing people have to realize from the outset is that it’s going to be tough, it’s going to be scary and you will face many obstacles and likely fall down many times on this journey. That’s just the reality; however, “Life is not about how many times you fall down. It’s about how many times you get back up.”

If you have this resilient and can-do mentality then I would encourage you to go for it, as it’s such a great feeling seeing your vision turn into reality and gain the independence that entrepreneurship gives you.

What do you think women should do as part of career planning – especially in a climate where jobs that never existed before are now in demand?

I think this is a key and critical challenge for female professionals going forward in the workforce – the deep structural changes that are taking place in the global economy, due to technological innovation, means that the skills you have today may not be and probably will not be relevant in the next 5-10 years.

This means it’s essential that female talent urgently need to prepare themselves to remain relevant in the workforce of tomorrow. I suggest to those who ask for advice to start by changing mindsets and being prepared to learn and unlearn. On a practical note you can follow these steps:

  1. Map out the skills you have list at least ten
  2. Research the skills that will be in demand in the future for your sector or industry
  3. Find your interest and passion  
  4. Upskill yourself via eLearning courses which can equip you with additional skills you will need for the workforce of tomorrow
  5. Don’t wait act now – the changes in the economy are moving fast – it’s essential to start now.

Emphasizing the point, recent research reported by the IMF revealed that women are employed in the majority of automated and AI-threatened roles. Given the current rates of tech evolution, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that 26 million female dominated jobs across 30 countries (including Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea) are at risk of disappearing. It also predicts that 180 million women’s jobs globally are at risk of displacement.

More worrying still is the fact that there is a deficit in knowledge of essential machine learning skills among women, with men outpacing them by 85%. This demonstrates the urgent need to upskill women in these areas.

What’s coming up next for you and half the sky?

A lot of exciting things are happening, we are working with several leading MNCs as we build out the career platform adding new exciting jobs every day.

We also have an exciting half the sky interview series that we are producing – where we interview leading female executives in Asia.

I will also be speaking on several career panels and conferences in the coming months. It’s going to be a busy few months as we build awareness of the platform – so stay tuned!


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#StartHerSuccess powered by #SheMeansBusiness Meetup: Strong Women, Powerful Stories https://singapore.girlsintech.org/2018/12/24/starthersuccess-meetup-strong-women-powerful-stories/ https://singapore.girlsintech.org/2018/12/24/starthersuccess-meetup-strong-women-powerful-stories/#respond Mon, 24 Dec 2018 08:33:04 +0000 http://singapore.aprilrieger.tech/?p=2003

 

By Anjuli Gopalakrishna 

Our community writer Anjuli volunteered at our first ever #StartHerSuccess meetup, powered by SheMeansBusiness – a space for entrepreneurial women to make valuable connections, share advice and move forward, together. She shares her takeaways from this event, including some real vulnerability and hard truths about women, entrepreneurship and resilience.


When it’s about women, I am all ears. Women in tech, who are entrepreneurs too? You’ve got me hooked! That’s how I ended up volunteering for Girls in Tech Singapore at the #StartHerSuccess meetup, powered by SheMeansBusiness.

I usually go to such events with an open mind: to meet people, get inspired and build connections along the way. I was pleasantly surprised by what I experienced at this event. I was expecting some PowerPoint presentations – there were none. I was expecting a huge crowd – but the setting was small and intimate.

What it was instead: three women recounting their entrepreneurial journey. How do you hang in there when times are tough? What does resilience mean for those who are their own boss? It was a remarkable event in that it brought out the raw, vulnerable and less glamorous aspects of entrepreneurship.

Pocket Sun runs the first female-led millennial venture capital firm SoGal Ventures – she got her start by organizing a conference while at university, and in the process found her calling:

“During the process of hosting these events, women started opening up to me on the issues and problems they face. I realized that the most important roadblock for women entrepreneurs was money.

When they went out to raise money, it was hard for them. When I got into the statistics, I was shocked. Only 2% of the venture capital funding went to female CEOs. ”

– Pocket Sun

Pocket decided to solve that problem, but said that it was sheer luck to subsequently be chosen for the Forbes 30 under 30 list. Her accomplishments and conviction to solve a problem she identified are impressive; proving that age is no bar for success, and that successful people are often very grounded. Serendipity may also have a role to play in our lives – Pocket attributed her spot in the Entrepreneurship and Innovation course at University of Southern California (USC) to a requirement for 50% female scholarship applicants!

An insight on problems that  Sjiva De Meester, founder of 9yards Innovation Consulting, shared was that it is important to fall in love with the problem, not the solution, because the solution may change going forward.  

As a youngster Sjiva was shaped by values of financial independence from her grandmother, who ran her own furniture business, and her mother, a divorcee who brought her up single-handedly. It was a big shock to her system when she decided to leave her career and join her husband in Singapore, so that he could pursue his. He was sitting in the audience, clearly a huge supporter, and has actively helped her in pursuing her aspirations.  

She lives her values and recounted a touching story of how she struggled with a serious bacterial illness which left her physically depleted with a weakened immune system.

“Every day was a struggle. I really felt like that song – ‘I get knocked down, and I get up again.’  To me that experience was a huge learning and I apply that to my business every day. You get knocked down and you get up again.”

– Sijva De Meester

Each day though, she pulled herself up.  Sjiva also spoke of two other ingredients for resilience – that determination to get up again, and continuous improvement. 9yards is a true testament to these two aspects of her character – in addition to partnering with communities such as Girls in Tech Singapore, Sjiva now works with some of the biggest companies, such as DBS and Accenture, to consult on and facilitate transformation through design thinking.

Solonia Teodros, the founder of The Change School shared her story of being on an entrepreneurial journey at the same time as her life partner and pivoting her business 4 times in 5 years. She stood out for me by voicing a different yet powerful point on resilience. Pivoting is not something that’s amazing or cool, as it is projected to be in the start-up community – it is truly exhausting. Resilience is a given when it comes being an entrepreneur, in the sense that you need to be agile and responsive to market needs.

“Each and every time we had to pivot, it felt like we had to start all over again. Everyone can be an entrepreneur, but entrepreneurship is not for everyone. And we need to be real about that.

I worry when I hear too much about resilience. As a society we are risking getting into this belief system that if you choose not to start over again, its because you are not resilient enough. I say that with a lot of passion because I am fresh off of a 3-month sabbatical. That’s because it has been my 3rd burnout in 6 years.”

– Solonia Teodros

She expressed her worry about the general concept of resilience, which puts pressure on you to get up and start again when you fail. For Solonia, resilience has taken on a different meaning now. It involves scrapping what the world peddles to you on how to run your business, and what you should or should not do.

Instead she urged the need to be honest with yourself about your mental health and well-being. The conversation on resilience needs to level up, so you can be true to yourself and your values. Sometimes, it may mean that you make a difficult choice: to simply pause, give yourself space to breath and restore a sense of balance to your life.

“For me resilience is now taking on a new meaning. It is not about can you work harder or smarter – it is more about how you are feeling, where you are, and about having to make choices that are difficult for you. Knowing that we are resilient, how do we ensure that we are mentally strong, we are living our values and we are courageous enough to say, ok, we need to pause.”

– Solonia Teodros

Yiping Goh, Founder of Quest Ventures,  learnt lessons of entrepreneurship at a young age, helping her parents with their humble business. It was very important to her to succeed and prove to the world that people from modest backgrounds could achieve the highest level of success too.

When she realized that her first start-up was not working out, she decided to put it aside. She took up two full-time *and* one part-time job; sleeping for only a few hours a day and saving money to give her parents an allowance for two years. She took the practical approach to first secure her parents’ needs, and told herself that if things did not work out, she could go back to her job again.

“Resilience to me looked like the nights where I have this habit of just lying on the bed, looking at the ceiling, when I am really depressed. Entrepreneurs have this depressive feeling most of the time. Spending lonely nights, staring at the ceiling trying to formulate answers and solutions.” -Yiping Goh

At a time when Yiping’s business needed to pivot, she walked away from a funding offer, because she wanted long -term success on her terms, rather than short-term success on terms dictated by others. It is this navigation through what she calls “a total mess”, and coming out of it knowing that you made it – that was Yiping’s version of resilience.

This meetup connected women on both sides of the table; the speakers and the audience as individuals being vulnerable, sharing relatable experiences and issues, as well as their own version of resilience – the common threads of which tie us all together.


About our community writer

Anjuli is a seasoned apparel and fashion industry professional and consultant; she is also a trainer, digital media practitioner and influencer. She is super motivated by the digital disruption sweeping the universe at large, and believes Digital is a mindset. She is energized by innovation and currently obsessed with curating and executing the best fashion-tech events for clients, as well as bringing together the most inspiring thinkers, innovators and business leaders to initiate conversations around digitalization, technology and innovation in the industry. Connect with her @anjuligo (IG/Twitter).

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