Patricia Zhao, Deputy Director, Agile Consulting and Engineering, GovTech, Singapore
How do you use technology / politics to improve the lives of citizens? Tell us about your role or your organization.
I started my career at GovTech as a Service Designer in 2019 and worked on a project with the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) to redesign the leave portal application and approval process government paid. It was a wonderful experience with MSF colleagues to streamline the workflow which not only provided better guidance to users every step of the way, but also helped MSF officers more easily review applications through a backend system. .
When the pandemic hit Singapore in early 2020, I joined the SupplyAlly product team as a product manager. Together with the team of engineers and designers, we have deployed several features and campaigns to help streamline the distribution process for several government agencies.
Most of them were involved in nationwide distribution initiatives such as reusable masks, TraceTogether tokens, and ART kits. Thanks to the work we did in SupplyAlly of managing the entitlements and balance of each beneficiary, we were able to pivot the use of the same technology to support other use cases such as buyout. SingapoRediscover coupons and the development of a new product called GovWallet.
What has been the most significant project you have worked on this year?
I had the privilege of attending the launch of two new products in November 2021. It is gratifying to see the fruit of the hard work of the teams. One was the government’s paid vacation portal and another was GovWallet. Much of my time this year has been invested in the conceptualization, engagement and product development of GovWallet. It was a derivative of the SupplyAlly code base.
It is a digital wallet module that manages a citizen’s government payments and acts as a payment facilitator to transfer funds from the government agency bank account to the recipient’s bank account using by PayNow. This had the most impact on me given the many learnings I had throughout the product lifecycle from conceptualization to launch in one year.
What is an unexpected learning of 2021?
As a product manager, I’m constantly learning to balance business requirements, technical feasibility and user experience… oh, not to mention the schedule. The theory sounds simple, but it prompts me to constantly think about it and consider compromises in every decision. I am grateful to have the opportunity to do so in this role and I hope I will improve in this role.
What is your favorite memory from last year?
Our team started organizing weekly shares every Friday where we took turns sharing everything that was happening under the sun. Through these sessions, we learned about each other’s travels, the meaningful things they do and the things that shape our values. I love it and while the work is important, there is so much more beyond the work that we do, and I love it!
What tool or technique are you eager to explore in 2022?
I am interested in negotiation strategies and techniques. I love to learn how people’s minds are wired and what people are looking for in a conversation. It will be interesting to acquire skills in this area.
What are your priorities for 2022?
I would like to be able to spend more time coaching teams than doing the work. However, the 2022 work priorities are fairly aligned – we have a few major feature launches for GovWallet in the first half of the year and I’ll focus on those first.
As for priorities beyond work, I would like to learn new motor skills and skateboarding could be.
Who are the mentors and heroes that inspire you?
I am fortunate to have three mentors. Two of them have retired and I am happy that they are now enjoying the fruits of their labor. I would always go to them for advice on how they would handle the situations I sometimes encounter at work. They have many leadership traits, but what inspires me the most is their willingness to take a break from what they’re doing and listen. They invest their knowledge and their time in others. I am not there yet but I aspire to be someone who develops and who also invests in others.
What wakes you up in the morning?
Besides waking up, it’s the tasks of the day that wake me up every morning and keep me going. I am a very task-oriented person and I stay focused on completing what is needed before the deadline.