The role of women
Ong Chin Yin, Grab's head of people, shows off a Grab Pay cart located in the company's new R&D center. Settled in the common area, the cart does not appear in Singapore but appears in some of Grab's other markets, including Vietnam, a constant reminder that the company serves the region first. - Grab company culture
One of the reasons that data science is a field in so much demand is because it's also a relatively new field - there's no set plan for coming into the field, which is why Grab hires from so many different walks of life. Under the same premise, perhaps more women would come into tech if they were aware of the options available to them at an early age. However, a significant portion of life - and development - takes place before an individual fills out a job application - or enters higher education, for that matter.
We sit in Grab's new research and development center in the heart of Singapore. In a conversation that is equal parts roundtable and fireside chat, co-founder Tan Hooi Ling and data science lead Serene Ow discuss Grab and the role of women at the company, as it is International Women's Day. We are free to ask either a question, but Hooi Ling pauses for a moment in the middle and poses a question to her counterpart.
Co-founder Tan Hooi Ling addresses a design workshop. The attendees? All Grab drivers' daughters, aged 15 to 19. - Grab company culture
“What are your ratio of females to males in electrical engineering when you were in university?" she asks, referring to her counterpart, who is an electrical engineer by trade.
“I think it was less than 10 percent," Serene replies.
It's an effect that snowballs, Hooi Ling goes on to explain - if more women went into similar fields, then some of those women would move over into data science, and then more of those would apply and be hired for jobs at Grab. The trick then - and what Grab wants to do - isn't just to hire more women but to begin nurturing the region's community when people are young.
Tending to tomorrow
“It's a good sign - we're growing up," Grab's head of people Ong Chin Yin says. She's proud of where the company has come from and where it's going.
The office serves as a testament to that, and several empty desks are also an indication of where Grab company culture lies.
“We really, really really encourage our grabbers to do is really be on the ground," she says. In Jakarta, that looked like one of the developers going out to a busy part of the city, enlisting the help of someone off the street for translation, and to speaking with drivers and users about their needs.
Grab's R&D center is designed to make those inside feel right at home in Southeast Asia. - Grab company culture
“When we look at an office that's half empty, it actually makes us really happy because it means that the team is really on the ground trying to be and understand from the point-of-view from our users and our drivers," she says.
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