In September 2013, McLaren Applied Technologies set up its Asia Pacific (APAC) headquarters at the heart of Singapore's Central Business District.
We sat down with APAC regional director, Kok Leong Lim (KL as he's known to colleagues) to find out how the Singapore team is progressing.
What originally attracted you to join McLaren Applied Technologies?
I spent over twenty years in the IT and telecommunication industry, until I was approached by McLaren in 2012 to spearhead Applied Technologies’ Singapore office. It was a fantastic opportunity at a company which is passionate about fusing data, IT, electronics, and wireless communication together to solve challenges in multiple industries.
The challenge of setting up a presence in Singapore and the allure of the McLaren brand, meant that it was a challenge I simply couldn't turn down, and I'm thankful I made the decision to join Applied Technologies.
Also, I was the first employee in our Singapore office, which is cool!
Why did Applied Technologies choose Singapore for its APAC headquarters?
Applied Technologies’ mission to solve challenges and improve lives stretches around the world, and the complexity and scale of our challenges means we will collaborate with like-minded visionaries based in APAC.
We view Singapore as a hub for innovation and our expansion is aided by the pro-enterprise Government, which encourages ambitious companies like Applied Technologies to grow by providing support.
We also recognise that Singapore produces some of the most talented and passionate people in the technology industry, many of whom share our ethos of using our skills and expertise to solve crucial challenges.
Which Applied Technologies projects does the Singapore office work on?
Our office is predominantly focused on applying insight and technologies in the health and transport industries.
In health, the output is intelligent products, from collecting real-time data from the human body to optimising the care pathway for patients. Our vision is to use health records to build models around population health data, optimising the patient care pathway.
We are already working with one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies to measure the effectiveness of a drug, and to see if patients are consuming the drug according to the dosage prescribed by the doctor. How? Well, without giving too much away, it involves using sensors to create a ‘digital wrapper’ around the medicine box, which can provide pharmaceutical companies and the wider health industry with valuable data. We believe this is a more effective, less intrusive way to measure the effectiveness of a drug compared to traditional clinical studies.
We have also supported projects which improves the condition of patients suffering from ALS (a form of motor neurone disease) and diabetes – a disease which is unfortunately too common in Singapore.
On the transportation front, we’re applying McLaren’s expertise in monitoring the performance of formula 1 cars to Singapore’s local transportation network.
Using data, modelling and simulation, we will empower transport operators to make better decisions to improve the peak performance of trains, reducing disruption caused by unscheduled maintenance or delays.
Working on solving difficult challenges, some of which have never been tackled before, motivates our people. It truly is an exciting time to be a part of Applied Technologies in Singapore.
Why do you think companies should collaborate with Applied Technologies?
McLaren were pioneers in extracting big insight from data very few companies needed the ability to record, process, and analyse massive amounts of data. Companies are only now fully understanding the potential of using data to improve business.
That means we have a big head start in understanding how data and engineering work together.
One of our key strengths is quickly understanding which problem a business wants to solve and how we can do it. We identifying efficient ways of doing business which leads to faster and better decision making.
For Applied Technologies, innovation isn't about technology. It's about how you apply that technology to improve people's lives.
And we will continue to work with work with like-minded visionaries to turn ideas into reality by developing intelligent products and processes.
McLaren is renowed for its high-performance culture, so what is the culture like in the Singapore office?
We have found the right balance of maintaining the Singaporean culture in our office, but also having the McLaren way of working with extreme high quality and attention to detail. It's important that we maintain the McLaren high-performance culture to ensure our clients receive the same quality of service as they do in the UK.
The thing that pleasantly surprised me at the McLaren Technology Centre was that teams go for breakfast and lunch together at our restaurant. This isn’t a common scene for UK companies. People are normally eating sandwiches at their desk during lunch. It’s great that we encourage employees to take breaks and to get away from their desks to socialise with colleagues. Great ideas are often generated through these interactions.
You say its becoming busier in the Singapore office, so are you recruiting more talented people?
Yes, we’re currently recruiting for a number of roles involving data science of software engineering. We anticipate recruiting an additional thirty-forty people before the end of the year, as we expand the Singapore team to take on additional responsibility of product development for our health and transportation business.
We will need a sustainable local talent pipeline with skills in design, data science, software engineering, project management, market analytics and technical and delivery. To kick start this, we have set up an internship programme with the local universities for engineering and computer science students. They will have the rare opportunity to experience working at McLaren Technology Centre in the UK for six months, before returning to apply their learnings in their final year project. After nurturing and developing talent, the end goal is for them to join Applied Technologies after graduating.
The personal and professional development of employees is crucial to our success; we want to make our employees happy doing what they enjoy.