From 3 to 120: How a Swiss innovation company built top-performing tech teams in Singapore


Poised for accelerated growth amidst COVID-19, the Singapore tech scene is thriving with innovation and set to become a regional powerhouse. We speak to Zuhlke — a Swiss global innovation and technology company – and their employees on the local tech scene and what makes Singapore a prime location for regional innovation as a tech hub. P.S. Zuhlke Singapore is hiring – scroll to the bottom for more details.

19 January 2021 / By SGN

Attracting and retaining top-tier tech talent powering next-generation businesses

Coming respectively in the third and fourth position on the annual Bloomberg Innovation Index for 2020, Singapore and Switzerland may be thousands of miles apart yet hold deep connections and similarities. Competitive yet open economies, political stability, solid education systems and strong digital adoption – the perfect landscape for building highly-innovative tech capabilities as a global hub.

As government initiatives continue to fuel growth of new business models, digitalisation effort and ecosystem collaborations across industries, the demand of tech talent is expected to continue well into 2021 and beyond.

An influx of demand for specialised roles such as DevOps engineers, cloud specialists, cybersecurity and data experts are on the rise as more companies move their operations to the cloud. In the continuous bid to deliver new, delightful experiences for users, companies are also investing more in emerging technologies like augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), mixed reality (MR), machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) among others, driving regional demand for niche talents specialised in these realms.

Zuhlke Asia Team at Yearly Camp, 2019 Vietnam

When it comes to hiring, Sean Eu, Head of Engineering at Zuhlke, shares the company’s unique approach in localising talent for each market across 15 locations globally.

“Our technical interviews include hands-on sessions like pair programming to ensure that candidates are able to demonstrate real expertise and practical experience. We also provide consecutive feedback to all candidates who interviewed with us regardless of the results, to ensure that the evaluation time would be helpful for us and them in both ways,” he says.

Clare Goh, Talent Relations & Recruiting Specialist at Zuhlke, concurs, highlighting the importance of ensuring a strong culture fit in an international team.  “With Zuhlke operating in 9 countries, we are able to tap on our international network of talent in scaling high-performing teams from the ground up in Asia.”

“These specialised profiles at mid-to senior levels bring in industry expertise and experience across global markets and accelerates the hiring, onboarding and development of our teams. Relocating from other locations to working in-location with our Singapore teams, they bring deep expertise as well as a diverse, multi-cultural perspective to the way we work, while championing our open culture and spirit.”

Yacine Mekesser, Software Engineer at Zuhlke Singapore

Hailing from Switzerland, Yacine Mekesser who has been with Zuhlke for over 4 years as a software engineer working on projects in the financial and banking industry shares his story coming to Singapore.

“I have always wanted to experience working abroad since graduating. Not just visiting a place, but really living locally to experience being integrated within another culture. The clients we were working with in Switzerland wanted to expand to Asia and I was offered the opportunity to set up the team in Singapore having had prior experience leading the first distributed team on the project with teams based in Serbia.”

“Working in a cross-cultural team was a great, enriching experience. Being tasked to build a team from the ground up in a location all new to me was definitely challenging at first. But it didn’t take long before we were a tight, well-performing team, sharing the same DNA and passion for innovative technologies and drive to deliver great products. Through community events like coding nights, virtual camps and focus groups, we are able to continue challenging and developing ourselves. By the end of my first year in Singapore, I enjoyed the experiences, people and places so much that I decided to extend my stay for another year!” Yacine shares.

Working as a Project Manager and Agile Coach, Aleksandra Brewer looks after project teams in client projects, ensuring that teams have everything they need to be top-performing and self-organising. Coming from Poland and having worked in New Zealand for over 7 years, Aleksandra shares what it is like to work in Singapore in a distributed manner supporting global clients like the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom.

“The diverse culture is what I love about working in Singapore. First off, we have no language and little cultural barriers with English commonly used as a main language with colleagues from diverse backgrounds. It also really helps that technology is a language that we all speak collectively — a passion we all have in common. Working with people from many diverse cultures means we get to celebrate everything unique about our different backgrounds, learn about customs from all over the world, which makes our lunchtime conversations all the more interesting,” Aleksandra reveals.

Aleksandra Brewer, Project Manager and Agile Coach facilitating an Agile Learning Workshop with Nan-yang Technological University (NTU) Students in 2019

Continuing on her experience working in Singapore on distributed projects, “When it comes to delivering valuable work, it doesn’t matter whether you are based in London, Zurich, Singapore or wherever around the world. You are working as part of a team united towards the common goal of building a successful product that impacts the world. For a solution like the NHS Test and Trace app, the fact that it is such a public project was challenging but also motivating in driving us to do a great job.”


Developing a growth mindset in tech career

It is important to realise that many roles in demand in the job market like software engineers, data scientists and product designers are fundamentally looking for problem-solvers. Beyond the essential technical skillsets, it is crucial for tech professionals to approach work with a craftsman mindset and develop passion for continuous learning and development rather than just as a job.

“Software engineering for example, is in itself both an art and science. It is a discipline that is more aligned to craftsmanship than traditional engineering disciplines. To excel, you need to possess both talent and also a strong drive for excellence, continuous innovation and be extremely agile.”

In traditional engineering disciplines, the same fundamental theories and formulas used decades ago can still be applied today. Contrast that with IT and software engineering where changes and evolution of practices happen within days and the hottest technologies of yesterday can be obsolete in months. Without a growth mindset and real passion for what they do, individuals will find it hard to develop mastery even if they are extremely bright and talented in terms of skills,” Sean elaborates.


Involving in Singapore’s vibrant tech & start-up community

The best of minds can only flourish with the right formal training and supported with opportunities in the best career path.

“Many of our brightest talents with great potential come from a non-IT background. These talents have managed to break through the barriers of learning new skills and disciplines, and have done so based on their passion for technology and their unwavering focus on improving quality and craftmanship.”

“As part of Singapore’s Traineeships Programme for Trainees, we are glad to be able to tap on a growing pool of talented individuals who are open to tech careers, and we are also fully committed towards their professional upskilling in their path towards IT,” Sean adds.

Employees often participate actively in local meetups and tech communities, be it as speakers or topic hosts — a useful way for professionals from the same line of work to exchange experiences and topics of interest. Conferences in person are less relevant these days, but it hasn’t stopped collaboration, with virtual workshops and team camps heading to online. If anything, the pandemic has made the community even more creative than before, exploring the use of technology to enable global collaboration.


Innovation and technology never stay still

“I think we are living in an age where it has never been easier to learn technology and build things. But at the same time, there is a gap in terms of the quality of technologists that our industry wants and what is available in the market. I think this gulf is formed because while everyone can learn about programming or technology, not everyone is great at it because not everyone is curious enough about it.”

“If you aspire to be a techie, be curious about everything. Ask basic questions like what is 5G, how does the internet work, why does VPN unlock your favourite channels. The answers are not going be easy to find, but you would be surprised at how much you learn in the process!” Vignesh Rajasekaran, Lead Architect at Zuhlke shares.

In this digital age with inclusive technologies, everyone can become a technologist and have their unique ways in keeping up with latest developments.

There is an abundance of personal development and learning opportunities with content from e-learning, social media, online tutorials and virtual conferences.

“Utilising our training budget, I try to attend conferences at least once a year to keep up with the upcoming trends. The last one that I attended was the KubeCon in September 2020. Also, participating and contributing to the local community meetups go a long way in helping you to meet similar-minded people and stay updated!”

“Our projects with clients also allow opportunities for me to continuously learn new things. Like the current project I’m working on using Istio and Kong — service mesh solutions which I find interesting to learn and experiment. Different projects give me the ability to learn on a day to day basis where I’m being pushed outside my comfort zone of what I already know,” Vignesh shares.

Zuhlke Singapore is actively hiring candidates to fill open positions – head to their Singapore page for 2021 job openings.



About Zuhlke Group

Swiss roots, global reach. Zuhlke is a global innovation service provider with over 50 years of leading expertise on quality software engineering, digital strategy, and business innovation. Founded in Switzerland in 1968 with a focus on product innovation, Zuhlke has now expanded to 16 locations worldwide, supported by a diverse talent pool of over 1,200 tech and innovation experts.

Groupwide, Zuhlke is proud to support businesses on over 10,000 successful projects worldwide, working with clients from innovative start-ups to large Forbes 100 companies across diverse industries and verticals: from banking and finance, insurance and fintech to machinery engineering, medical technology and pharmaceutical. Zuhlke is committed to sustainable growth in the ASEAN region with heavy investment in regional talents and involvement in the local community and tech ecosystem. A third location in Asia is also in plan for 2021.

Visit www.zuhlke.com for more info or reach out to asia@zuhlke.com to speak to innovation experts at Zuhlke.


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