Diving into DevOps and Regional Marketing at Shopee: Kelvin Ang, Carmen Foong

Are you a Shopee fan? We’ve got two awesome interviews for you right here with Shopee’s DevOps Engineer and Regional Marketing Associate!

Kelvin, the DevOps guru, shares his experience alongside Carmen, the Regional Marketing Associate. Both of them had lots to say (and we mean a lot) about what they love about their job. Let’s dive in!

How did you get to where you are now?

K: I’m a Computer Engineering grad from NUS. Upon graduation, I was required to serve a scholarship bond with another company. But I quickly realised that I would not be able to fully realise my passion to its fullest extent where I was. I knew where my strengths lay and what I wanted to do, but there were all sorts of uncertainties and dilemmas especially with regards to the bond. When I saw an opportunity, there were many who tried to talk me out of it, citing reasons that sounded right. But somehow I knew it would not lead me to where I needed to be.

After pondering for many days, and speaking to many others in the same position as me, I realised that it was then or never. It was a very difficult decision full of hurdles but I broke the bond and joined Sea (previously known as Garena).

On my first day, the Garena Labs VP asked me what kind of software engineer I wanted to be. I told him I wanted to be faced with the most challenges and excitement, and he placed me in DevOps.

What do you like most about your job?

K: Being a DevOps engineer in Shopee allows me to operate full-stack, exposing me to technologies all the way from the network and infrastructure level to back-end servers and front-end applications. One day, I might be designing a multi-layer load balancing architecture, and the next, I could be developing a front-end React application and implementing back-end APIs.

Being responsible for both development (Dev) and operations (Ops) allows me to simultaneously experience both worlds from a unique perspective, and to understand the system architecture through many different pairs of eyes. The level of exposure from being a DevOps engineer deeply satisfies my desires to learn. I’m able to grow both technically and interpersonally as I interact with talents from all walks of life and technical competencies daily.

While operating full-stack is challenging, it enables extreme freedom and creativity, allowing the implementation of solutions and technological platforms beyond conventional boundaries. I get to experiment and work with the latest technology stacks from web frameworks to container orchestration architectures, SDN, and distributed tracing systems. We experience the fruits of our labor daily, from the accelerated development through automated platforms to self-healing infrastructures, allowing everyone to sleep peacefully at night.

What’s a typical day like for you?

K: I wake up early in the morning for my daily workout to get myself mentally prepared to conquer the day (and to compensate for the snacks I’m about to eat for the rest of the day), then proceed to have breakfast and get changed. I spend most of my train journey on Udemy, MIT OCW (I love courses in Physics), or sometimes just indulging in Twitch or YouTube. When I get to office, I usually head to the pantry first, and brew myself an exquisite cup of TWG tea. While partaking in my daily tea ceremony and chomping on Magnum ice cream (also from the pantry), I spend a few minutes prioritizing the fun activities (i.e. tasks) for the day on Jira.

The day starts. As the office bursts into life, I put on my game face, fire up my favorite playlists on Spotify, and race to complete the set of tasks I’ve marked to complete before lunch, while multitasking between a dozen chat windows, performing mass operations on thousands of servers, responding to live production emergencies, hammering code into IDE, and sipping tea.

LUNCH TIME!!! We are spoilt for choice when it comes to food. Apart from the fancy restaurants in SavourWorld, we can also take a free two-way shuttle bus to various lunch locations like NUS PGP or Timbre+. Back in office with our tummies full of joy, some of my colleagues nap in sleeping pods while others fire up their favorite online games. I usually get myself my daily aromatic cup of coffee from the Nespresso machine, yet another stick of Magnum ice cream, some fruits and a bag of chips from the (really awesome and fully stocked) pantry for my after lunch snack party.

Then, I put my game face back on and “re-enter the Matrix” until about 4 where I bring up the meal portal to pick my (free) dinner. I love myself a savory plate of seafood pasta, or salad if I’m in the mood for healthy eating. I’ll then attend some workshop, sharing session or Sea Labs College lecture which are held almost every afternoon (yes, Sea Labs College. You didn’t think your last lecture would end in school, did you?).

Time flies when I’m having fun and before I know it, it’s dinner time. While enjoying yet another Magnum (just can’t get enough of this liquid bliss), I reflect on the things I’ve accomplished for the day before heading off with my colleagues. I usually end my day with a few episodes on Netflix and pwn a few n00bs in competitive esports. Sometimes I go for a run, and then sink into bed to catch 7 hours of sleep (very, very, very important).

What words will you use to describe Shopee’s work environment/community?

K: Young. Vibrant. Diverse. Exciting. Cutting-edge. Open-minded. Nurturing.

John Rohn famously said that “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” I’m really glad that I’m surrounded by the brightest minds of our generation. Apart from a multicultural and diverse pool of young talents, the company has a very flat hierarchy and is virtually free from workplace politics (I kid you not). Knowledge and ideas are shared freely, and everyone grows together. There are lots of personal development opportunities and programmes available. There is not a single day I haven’t learned something amazing.

The software engineering team adopts a strong no-blame culture and operates on facts and logical reasoning. Not only am I allowed to push boundaries into unknown territories, I’m encouraged to do so. I feel like I’ve been placed in a catalyst where I have freedom to learn, create and innovate to my greatest abilities.

Any words of advice for those looking to follow your steps life-/career-wise?

K: You do not have a time machine, but you can always project yourself in the future. Tell yourself what your future self would tell you.

Don’t be afraid to make decisions for yourself. A popular decision is just a decision that lies on the median, and following it may just keep you in the median. Don’t worry about pleasing everyone when making decisions.

Once you’ve made it known and you’re past the point of no return, stay firm. Don’t be tempted by distractions and follow through like an atomic computer instruction, or risk suffering the equivalent of data corruption in real life where you end up in a worse situation than before you started. Trust me, I’m an engineer. Also, YOLO.

Wow. If there was ever the most informative interview ever – here it is. Let’s get to Carmen’s interview and step into the world of a regional marketer!

How did you get to where you are now?

C: There’s no Oscar-worthy story behind this! I have always loved marketing and was certain that this would be my career. While in university, I was fascinated with digital marketing and that gradually led to an interest in the tech industry. I stumbled upon Shopee’s job listing for a Regional Marketing role in my final year and applied for it.

I am thankful I landed the job and from then on it was just all about hard work and having a strong willingness to learn.

What do you like most about your job?

C: Two main things: Getting exposed to new challenges every day and working alongside incredible teammates.

I am fortunate to be with Shopee during this period of growth where we’re constantly trying to move faster, push new initiatives and optimize existing ones. I learned a lot by doing. There’s no doubt a lot of hard work and long hours involved but I’ve gained so much experience in return, from handling e-commerce campaigns, to rolling-out new app features to in each of our 7 countries.

That being said, I couldn’t have wished for better people to work with than my teammates in Regional Marketing as well as my colleagues in the local marketing teams. We trust and support each other even when the going gets tough. Above all, they are also friends whom I would gladly hang out with and party after work (which we do) and that’s a big plus.

What’s a typical day like for you?

C: There’s no hard routine. My role concentrates more on product marketing. Most of my time would be spent liaising with stakeholders from both the local and regional teams, to plan or to launch marketing related features in our app or PC platforms. We work closely across functions to ensure that these new features value add to consumers, are relevant to the market and are accompanied by the right marketing communications plan. My team and I would also spend time looking into the performance of our existing features and follow up with the local teams on new product requests.

These days I have been spending more time outside of Singapore to help out with initiatives in our local offices. It strengthens my understanding of the local markets and allows me to experience local marketing at first hand.

What words will you use to describe Shopee’s work environment/community?

C: Young and dynamic. Most people in our company are in their twenties so there’s always an energetic vibe around in the workplace. Things move really quickly so if you’re looking to join, be prepared to be comfortable with change and get ready to hustle.

Any words of advice for those looking to follow your steps life-/career-wise?

C: Have a growth mindset. Focus on learning and getting better. Don’t be afraid of uncertainties or about asking questions about what you don’t know. And when things screw up, don’t focus on the mistakes or failure but see what you can pick out from the experience to improve things the next time round.

The hype for a job at Shopee is real. Which is why we’re serving you once-in-a-blue-moon Unicorn Opportunities; all you have to do is ready your applications and CVs. Check out Shopee’s open positions right now and see which path you want to take. Trust us: it’s going to be super fun. Especially if you like a fully-stocked pantry. 😉

Sophia Lee

I used to freelance exclusively for Glints - now I'm a content marketing intern working furiously in the backdrop. Talk to me about writing any time! (Or we could have a serious discussion about video games and e-sports... that's cool too.) Find me on Instagram (@pxtrx)!

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