Céline Heldner worked in Singapore at Zühlke for more than a year. In this interview she tells us about her experiences there, what made a particular impression on her and how COVID-19 brought her to a new project.
You only came back from Singapore this year. What was it like working in Singapore?
Very good, very interesting – and actually also very straightforward! Everything that was needed was organised for me by Zühlke: the apartment, the relocation and all the administrative work I don't like to do myself (laughs). I got to know Singapore as an exciting city: thoroughly international and culturally diverse. But my stay was an experience not only because of the location, but also because of my projects.
What did your work in Singapore help you to achieve?
Singapore is a hotspot for FinTech and so my first project was in the private banking sector. From there I switched to a team that developed mobile apps for a Singaporean energy service provider. I found the sustainability features in the apps particularly interesting: users are rewarded for environmentally friendly behaviour with, among other things, a bonus! When COVID-19 broke out, the same company planned two new apps with us: one for tracking the health data of workers who are housed in larger, communal accommodation, and one that serves as a "keep-your-distance reminder" in the office. Our customer wanted to make a contribution to stabilising the situation on the premises. I thought that was a very good initiative and I was happy to be involved in it. We were supported by British colleagues from our Zühlke network.
At the peak of the covid-19 crisis, a lot happened in just a few weeks or even days. How important was time for you in the project?
The COVID-19 apps really did have to be developed incredibly quickly: we only had three weeks for the proof of concept. But I found the pace fascinating because I learned so much in such a short time – and also because I was there from the very beginning and was able to help create the basic structure.
Different nations, different companies – in your experience, what happens when different cultures meet in a job?
Certainly, people don't behave the same way everywhere: in each team, you just have to watch and see how you can work together best. For example, I prefer to be phoned directly rather than be sent an email. I need to share that with colleagues first, of course. But if you are approachable and direct, and just watch what goes on around you at the beginning, the cooperation always works very well – even across cultural boundaries.
Are you now "homesick" for Singapore?
For my team and for the good food there, of course! (laughs). But basically, I'm glad to be home for a while.
Céline Heldner is an experienced Software Engineer with a focus on Mobile- and Backend Development (Kotlin/Java). She has demonstrated her experience in distributed, international teams based in Switzerland, but also in Asia (Singapore/ Shanghai). With her technical know-how and direct communication, she efficiently drives projects forward.