Behind the Scenes: Singapore Tech Forum in the Making

Putting together a mega event like the Singapore Tech Forum requires painstaking preparation, seamless teamwork, and attention to detail. Michelle Loh, SGN’s Regional Director based in New York and a member on the organising team, offers her behind-the-scenes perspectives to help you navigate the event of the year. 

6 November 2020 / By Michelle Loh

Part of the Singapore Tech Forum 2020 organising committee from Singapore Global Network and GovTech. We couldn’t meet in person to take this group shot but thank goodness for virtual team collaboration tools!

After months of planning, it’s finally here: the biggest, most ambitious edition of Singapore Tech Forum ever.

What a journey it has been. Moving a conference fully online was not an easy task, much less one which had previously been oversubscribed and had a huge following in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

While excited, we had moments of doubt right from the start – How would we replicate the IRL networking and community experience? What topics would be most interesting and useful for our Singapore, US, and U.K. communities? Would people even turn up?

Luckily, we did have guiding lights in the form of data generously shared by global tech talent over the past year. We spoke to over a hundred Singaporeans and friends of Singapore in the US and U.K. to understand their perceptions of Singapore’s tech ecosystem, and the questions they had for us.

With just one week left to this year’s Tech Forum, we’re counting down ways that the event has continued to surprise us:

1. This is our most power-packed line-up ever…

If you are blown away by our list of speakers – headliners include Singapore’s Prime Minister and Senior Minister, Salesforce’s Marc Benioff, DBS’s Siew Choo, Sea Group’s Forrest Li – well, so are we.

When we drew up our wish list of speakers, we knew the list had to be kick-a**, given the saturation of online events during Covid-19. (We also secretly hoped that they were more available than during pre-pandemic times, given their considerably streamlined travel schedules!) We were so thrilled they said yes. 

It’s a veritable list of Who’s Who at the forefront of innovation in tech, government, and business, and we can’t wait to be inspired by their sharing. 

2. And also the most diverse and inclusive

From the start, we were insistent on a line-up that represented the best of the Singapore tech ecosystem. This meant putting those from diverse backgrounds on stage. We wanted to highlight more women in tech and working parents, among others.

It was not an easy task. The tech industry is notorious for its struggles with building gender, ethnic, and racial diversity at the workplace, but we knew that made our work even more important.

We’re so proud that over a third of Tech Forum’s main stage speakers are women, and more than a few of all of our speakers will speak about the realities of juggling family life and a tech career #multitasking.

3. If you want a glossy advertisement of a Singapore tech career, look elsewhere

The Tech Forum will showcase the amazing perspectives of a tech career in Singapore – but also areas that are still a work-in-progress. 

It would not be realistic to say that being in tech in Singapore and Southeast Asia is a bed of roses, which is why you’ll get to hear from engineers, developers, designers and business leaders who made the move to Singapore from the US and U.K. 

They’ll share the good, bad, and downright weird sides of building and scaling in the Southeast Asian region, and how the different workplaces, cultures, and communities stack up. Be prepared for some candid conversations.

4. Choose your own adventure

Yep, we know webinar fatigue is real, which is why we designed the programme to be only a couple of hours long every day, with tailored sessions for our regional audiences. 

No matter your background, we got you covered: our speakers and audience include everyone from policymakers and strategists, to VCs, engineers and data scientists who make our ecosystem tick. 

So whether you’re a thinker or tinkerer, we’re pretty certain you’ll find a session or two that will intrigue and inspire you.

5. Get ready to meet others like you

Going virtual has allowed us to experiment with new formats, and we’re so excited to host our Tech Forum community on Slack. 

While we aren’t able to meet in person this year, we’re bringing together our incredible and passionate audience online. You’ll not only have the opportunity to learn and build relationships with our global community of like-minded individuals, but also to network with some of our speakers, moderators and participating companies, even before Tech Forum begins. 

We can’t wait to see you on 17 November! Seats are running out, so if you haven’t yet booked your spot, do so here. We hope you’ll leave Singapore Tech Forum 2020 with new contacts and fresh perspectives in tech, public good, and business in Singapore and Southeast Asia.


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