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15. John Ang on Biz guys learning tech and Digital Career

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Podcast with John Ang Part 4

 

Part 4 Podcast with John Ang

Summary

John believes that it’s easier to train a business guy, to learn a no-code or a low-code product to do AI automation than it is easier to hire a software engineer or AI engineer to learn the business. The easier path for the chicken rice hawker is the non-coder path where he goes to become a people manager. John liked to read fiction when it comes to digital transformation. So there are a lot of very interesting sci-fi authors that write about what the world might look like in 5 years or 10 years. So for those of you who are interested in coding, this would be really relevant. I think my favorite app today is actually Google's collaboratory. John thinks the most important thing is to stay where you are passionate. Don't just go to learn to code just because people are saying you should but you have no interest in it at all.

[00:00:00] Andrew Liew Weida: Hi, everyone. Welcome to the AI of mankind show where I share anything interesting about mankind. I'm your host for this season. My name is Andrew Liew. I work across four Continents and 12 international cities. Also, I work in tech startups across a range of roles from selling products, making customers happy, figuring out fundraising, making finance tick, building teams, and developing sticky products. Apart from building startups. I've also worked in fortune 500 companies as a chief data scientist or technologist and people leader. You can call me Jack of all trades or master of learning. I hope to make this podcast show a great learning experience for us In each season, there is a series of interesting things where I invite guests to share their views about their life and interests. Now let the show begin.

[00:01:10] Andrew Liew Weida: In the previous episode, John shared his views on how AI is being deployed in the process of digital transformation and how AI will shape the future of work. This episode continues the part 4 conversation with John and John shared his career advice on how to build a career in AI, digital, and data. Let's continue.

[00:01:37] Andrew Liew Weida: Yesterday. I had a meeting with some of the big global tech brands and there was this saying that: it's far easier to train a business guy, to learn a no-code or a low code product to do AI automation than it is easier to hire a software engineer or AI engineer to learn the business.

[00:01:56] John Ang: Yeah, I think that most data people and software people go into data and software because they have a better knack for the sciences rather than the business side of things. So forcing them to go over to the business side could be a little bit hard on them and it's a challenge, but for the business people, they know that in order to win the business, I need to get to a certain level of proficiency, at a the statistical program or code and enough motivation for them to get it done. Because if they don't, then they're not competitive in the market anymore and the business would just fail. So I think that just from looking at these two perspectives, it makes sense to me that it be maybe easier to treat business people in how to think like an engineer.

[00:02:41] Andrew Liew Weida: Okay. So in Singapore, we have a lot of food stores. They are known as Hawker. One of my favorite questions is if there's a chicken rice hawker who one day decided to change his career paths. . There were two possible extreme paths. One is to be a software engineer to learn to code and eventually create a product. The other path is to learn to be a people manager. So which path is easier for the chicken rice Hawker?

[00:03:08] John Ang: The easier path for the chicken rice hawker is the non-coder path where he goes to become a people manager and I wouldn't say just that to be a people manager. I think that as a chicken rice Hawker, I'm going to call him a domain expert in this industry. So he's a domain expert in the F&B industry. And simply by being there, he has an understanding of the designs required of F&B business requirements, how to do sales, and how to do marketing, and these are all very important in any business, right? Especially if he's looking to stay competitive. So if I were a chicken rice Hawker, and I wanted to move away from just saying chicken rice, myself, I would want to bring all these skills that I have with me and not throw them away, just to focus on learning how to code. In order to leverage everything that I learn and contribute back in the best way that I can to my current industry, I think that will be the best way for someone in this position to actually re-skill themselves and reenter the industry.

[00:04:10] Andrew Liew Weida: Oh, that's very well said. So you mentioned that even the chicken rice Hawker has a domain knowledge, which is in the design domain in the space of, food and beverages, maybe even in a deeper domain called chicken rice. And instead of him spending a lot of time and effort to learn to code, unless he's very interested or is gifted it's probably best to use a low-code and no-code apply design and domain knowledge to be put into good use. Now that requires a passion for learning and continuous learning. Coming back to this topic of learning John. So what is your favorite book?

[00:04:41] John Ang: I actually liked to read fiction when it comes to digital transformation. So there are a lot of very interesting sci-fi authors that write about what the world might look like in 5 years or 10 years. And if you go back to see like the 1990s and 1980s and read what those authors write. So you're trying to figure out if those predictions actually did come true today, we find a lot of very interesting insights in terms of how they view the world. And to me, those have been the greatest value for me when I read. So for example, the latest book that I read was [Ready Player One].

 John Ang: You might have seen the movie. So that was someday that was written back about eight, 10 years ago, about VR and the metaverse. And today Facebook becoming meta and Mark Zuckerberg trying to realize that vision. So that actually were the concerns of the people, how would the businesses be organized? How was society organized, and how to react to these developments, continue the book? So that's why I found it. I find fiction to be actually instructive rather than nonfiction when it comes to looking right into tech and deep tech.

 Andrew Liew Weida: Yeah, it's very interesting because I remember Neal cross, the ex-chief innovation officer of DBS bank. He also said the same thing.

 Neal Cross: So they said, okay, Neil, so what's your advice for regulators? For just one answer, read science fiction. Cause what is playing out is, has already been defined. The future has been defined on the inside, even though Elon Musk keeps. All his stuff comes outta science fiction. Yeah. Hyperloop that's, I've read science fiction books going back in the 18 hundreds. LOL, the concept of tubes with vacuums in. So there are no air-resistant trains it's, not. It's not anything new and a lot of it's inevitable. And so my point was to read science fiction and understand tech megatrends because you know that the way a tech megatrend rolls out will affect how people operate in society and how people will purchase products in the future. But if you could even just have a team, which thinks about future regulation. Based on future tech and societal trends, you'll be way ahead of the curve. So when things like blockchain come up with things like aka KYC, when thing all these cloud computing, you already have a handle you've been waiting for it. It's not I'm in, in tech since I should dreamed of being a robot when I was a kid. So I was writing code at 10 When I got my first machine, I was a game developer at 12. I just I've been sat there for most of [00:09:00] my life just waiting. Oh, great. Finally, this thing's turned up, so I've read thousands of sci-fi books.

 Andrew Liew Weida: He also believes that companies C-level management leaders. should look towards the imagination of human beings, especially, in science fiction books, and they actually review what the future holds in terms of what is possible. What is the utopian world look like? And in your case, [Ready Player One] is one of the books that you actually read to get yourself up and learn about the future. Now, what about the number one personal app that you use almost every day?

 John Ang: So for those of you who are interested in coding, this would be really relevant. I think my favorite app today is actually Google's collaboratory. It is a cloud-based platform where you can very easily just jump in and begin writing code without having to install anything or make sure that certain dependencies fit with each other. So that system has allowed me to iterate far more quickly than I would be able to have everything on my own system. So I use that every day to do my work. And if you haven't tried it out, you should actually go and try to Google collaboratory. It gives you a GPU if you wanted to do training off your AI systems on this platform.

 Guo Yufeng: Creating and maintaining a data science environment is no easy task from installing libraries to updating run times. It can be a real drain on both your time and productivity. What if I told you there was a tool that could make all of that go away? So you can focus on data science and machine learning. What might such a tool look like? My name is Guo Yufeng and co laboratory or CoLab for short is a tool for machine learning, education, and research. In a nutshell, it's basically a Jupyter notebook environment that requires no setup to use.

 Andrew Liew Weida: You mentioned Google CoLab. The interesting question I want to ask is about the libraries like how it is being deployed. Those coding libraries and the other ones that I'm also concerned is the privacy and data governance.

 John Ang: Yes, if you are using company data and you have a company policy to not put it on the cloud, then definitely do not do that because it is Google. It's just it's exactly the same as putting your data onto Google drive. So if you can't do it definitely don't do it. But in terms of getting the libraries all set up, what I found is that with Google collaboratory, you actually are being given a pretty standardized system, but if you need to swap out anything and at the bottom of the stack, it's actually pretty easy to issue just a few commands inside of the black form to swap in any of the libraries that you want. That is pretty well documented as well with Google documentation and still doing it is much faster than trying to do the same thing on my local system.

 Andrew Liew Weida: Ah, okay. Now, John, I want to ask is you have an interesting non linear career path from a wall street banker to a biotech founder to later be AI product manager for a public university. For those who are interested to start their career in the digital space, what are the career tips that you can offer them?

John Ang: I think the most important thing is to stay where you are passionate. Don't just go to learn to code just because people are saying you should but you have no interest in it at all. There are so many things, even in the tech space, so many jobs, so many responsibilities and tasks that don't require you to code. So go to where your passion needs you, whether it's design, whether it's business, whether it's legal, we go, for example, there's now, law tech, and tech in law and law in tech, both of these things. These will set you up well to be a long and happy career here. The best advice that I would give is to identify your passion, go and find people in this field that have the jobs or doing the things that you're passionate about and ask them, what did they have to do to learn the skills or what they have to do to get those roles and then prioritize doing those things. And I think that is the best advice that I would give myself a few years back in order to have a healthy and productive career ahead.

 Andrew Liew Weida: So John, thanks for coming to the show. We are coming to the end of the podcast. Is there anything that you want to ask the audience that they can do for you?

 John Ang: Definitely check out what we offer at AI Singapore., www.aisingapore.org. We have tons of programs, tons of frameworks, and certain grants and we might have something for you. And if you're interested in don't hesitate to contact us.

Andrew Liew Weida: So for those who are interested to try something AI or learn about AI or being involved in AI, AISG, artificial intelligence singapore is one of the best place to go to and do a follow back and network with John. And we have come to the end of today's session. Thank you so much, John. I wish you the best and hope to catch up with you soon.

 John Ang: All right.

John Ang: Thanks, Andrew.

 Andrew Liew Weida: Hi everyone, thanks for tuning into this episode. We have come to the end of part 4 with John and this is the end of the podcast series with John.

 Andrew Liew Weida: If this is the first time you are tuning in. Remember to subscribe to this show. If you have subscribed to this show and love this episode. Please share it with your friends, family, and acquaintances. See you later and see you soon.

 

(Source: Neal Cross talk: Banks are becoming Fintechy & Fintechs are becoming banky : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4y2f5IHaq0&t=2546s)

(Source: Ready Player One : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSp1dM2Vj48)

(Source: Introduction to Google Colab conversation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yEIc9z-Ad3k)

 

 

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