Having studied economics in university in the UK, I never quite imagined that I would one day be working in a tech role. Back in 2013 when coding just started gaining popularity, I had already began learning programming on my own and taking night classes.
I ended up falling in love with programming and it became something I seriously pursued. I went from being a broker in the back office of a precious metals firms to become the team lead for front-end app services for Hong Kong digital bank Mox.
As a British-born Chinese, I grew up on the outskirts of Glasgow, UK and then moved to Hong Kong to work as that’s where my family is from.
Over here at Mox, a lot of my day-to-day work consists of thinking about how I can bring the bank and its technology solutions to the next stage. There’s a lot of long-term planning involved in a virtual bank and it’s quite different from a startup where the focus tends to be more on surviving each day.
I started this role right in the thick of the pandemic in the second quarter of 2020. One of the things my team does at Mox is releasing the apps and integrating them with the bank’s API (application programming interface) backend services.
It’s certainly very challenging but at the same time, that’s what I like about it as I have the agency to work on these problems in the virtual bank space.
Because I joined during Covid-19, it was several months before I got to meet my colleagues in Mox. The whole pandemic period was not easy for many of us as Covid-19 fatigue also set in as the lines between work and home became blurred.
Some of the key lessons I learnt from that time is to communicate and be open to build trust with colleagues. It takes courage to admit your limitations, but I’ve found that admitting my own vulnerabilities helped to create a positive work environment for myself and my team.
Another takeaway is to prioritise what’s important and to say no to everything else. Work can be overwhelming and we often find ourselves bogged down with too much on our plate. In those situations, I take a step back and identify what’s truly urgent and important versus what can wait. Often, I’ve learnt that being able to push back helps with building a better product.
It has not been an easy transition into this role, especially when a lot of colleagues have left Hong Kong due to the various pandemic restrictions. But I look on the positive side as I managed to carve a niche with my work and I was able to establish boundaries for my mental health. For instance, like many other software engineers, I learnt to bake sourdough bread (I named it ‘Frank’!) during the pandemic to take my mind off things. It’s an ongoing process that goes beyond the pandemic.
Those were tough times, but I managed to persevere and also fostered good relationships with colleagues – these are blessings that I’m thankful for.
I recently got married so I am now enjoying this new stage of my life. With pandemic restrictions slowly lifting, there’s light at the end of the tunnel, so I’m looking forward to better days ahead.