Illuminate: A Regional Data Product Manager On Southeast Asia, Acquiring New Skills, and Freedom

Anthony Lifeatshopee

With special edits by Anthony Ho

There are rare moments in time where you bump into someone with the right mix of self-assuredness, passion, and humility. Someone with confidence that inspires but does not intimidate; someone with answers that empower but do not enfeeble.

Tuesday afternoon was one of these moments.

Anthony, a Regional Data Product Manager, is currently back in Singapore after touring our regional offices, educating local analysts on how to use Shopee’s new Lumos system. Speaking to him for the first time, it is clear why he was chosen as the man for the job: his clarity and expertise is second only to his eloquence.

In an insightful hour-long conversation, Anthony speaks at length on the future of our region, the perks of working away from his home at Hong Kong, and staying grounded in a sea of dreams. Read on for the full story!

Anthony sharing a mid-day laugh with his team

Perry: Lumos is a relatively new development in Shopee’s history. Will you tell us more about it?

Anthony: Certainly! Lumos is a big data interface and visualization platform with three main functions.  The first is a query workbench known as SQL Lab, where Lumos users can acquire data from our ever-expanding data warehouse.

Primarily a data visualization tool, Lumos is also capable of transforming large volumes of raw data into interactive charts and graphs that update in real-time. This tool is tied to the third function – the dashboard building client that helps analysts automate the generation and distribution of their reports and analyses.

Anthony at a hackathon organised by his previous company, ThinkCol, a boutique data science consultancy in Hong Kong

P: Such a large-scale undertaking must have had some intense planning behind it. How did the idea for this platform first come to be?

A: Lumos was actually an answer to a need we already anticipated. For any modern online enterprise, data is everything. As our business grows, so does the volume of data generated by new customers, features, campaigns, and thousands of other elements contributing to the our ecosystem. With this data, we can make smarter business decisions and grow the business, which then leads to even more data, continuing the cycle. Building Lumos was a natural next step for us to convert data into insights more efficiently.

Trainees look on as Anthony shares insights during a Lumos coaching session

P: That sounds like an incredible breakthrough for all of us! Such a project must’ve brought about many benefits to many aspects of the business.

A: I’m glad you feel this way, we’re very proud of what we’re working on as well! The platform is mainly designed to serve business intelligence users and analysts throughout the business, so they’re definitely the most affected. With Lumos, our users can automate many of the manual, error-prone, and time-consuming tasks from their daily routine This means they have more time to fulfil ad-hoc requests and tackle more strategic topics

Other departments benefit too. Let’s say a Marketing team needs data to prepare for an upcoming campaign but their Excel report’s data is already several hours old. Instead of chasing the report owner for an update, the team can now directly access Lumos whenever they please and refer to a dashboard containing the latest information available.

Anthony formally began his career in tech at Rackspace, a managed cloud service provider

P: You seem very in tune with the beneficiaries of your work. Does this awareness come with experience?

A: I think it does, but a desire to learn more about the end users matters as well. Early in my career, I worked at Rackspace, a managed cloud service provider. There, I had my first exposure to big data applications and got to work closely with data-centric clients and businesses. It was really fascinating. And that’s what first motivated me to move down the supply chain and closer to the consumer.

Anthony enjoys how Singapore tries to weave together nature and city

P: It’s great to hear that you’re finding a middle ground between profession and passion! Is there a particular reason why you chose to pursue this in Singapore?

A: Well, I feel that there’s plenty of growth and potential to be found here. Asia is an economic powerhouse with ample room for growth, and I believe that Southeast Asia will be very much in the mix during this boom. It has the size and the talent, and could very well ride the wave to success that the rest of Asia has been capitalising on.

A snapshot of Hong Kong’s skyline from Anthony’s favourite lookout location

A: I’ve had minimal difficulty adapting to Singapore, actually! Both are cities and incredibly convenient for young professionals. I’ve lived in cities my whole life though, so I might be partial to them! (laughs)

Singapore, however, does have its plus points. For one, there’s a lot more space! It’s also really therapeutic to have Mother Nature at your doorstep. I could grab my running shoes, head downstairs, and jog in any random direction and still be in the company of greenery.

The lifestyles people lead here seem to be healthier. It is a little small, but Singapore is right next door to so many other countries I want to explore – the rest of Southeast Asia is just a short flight or ferry away!

Anthony catching up with his old friends during a trip back to Hong Kong

P: I’m rather surprised you consider our lifestyles healthy, but thank you nonetheless! On the topic of travel, which parts of the region have you explored so far?

A: Quite a few! Just recently I visited all 8 countries we operate in.. They’ve all been work-related trips though, so free-time was pretty limited! (laughs) Being away from home means I have a lot more time to explore and travel to places I’ve always wanted to. I think when you live in the city you grew up in, it’s easy to spend all your time with the friends and family you love. As soon as you move away, you suddenly find yourself with no plans for the weekend and realise you can actually do all the things you’ve always wanted to do!  

Getting in touch with nature along one of Singapore’s most scenic trails

P: Everyone could use some alone time once in a while! So, what have you been doing with this newfound freedom?

A: I’m trying to be productive and pick up a few new skills. This year, I want to get my motorcycle and open water diving licenses. The worst thing that can happen is if I travel to some of the neighboring countries and find myself lacking the skills to safely drive around or dive with my friends.

Anthony enjoying a trip out onto the waters on a weekend

P: I can understand your interest in being able to operate a motorcycle. We never know when we’ll need that skill, especially when we’re in other countries. Why scuba diving though?

A: Diving’s an interest that caught my attention now that I’m living in Southeast Asia. The best diving spots are within easy reach now – and I don’t want to miss out on the grand opportunity to experience them.

Anthony celebrates his graduation day from Babson College (Statistical Modeling and Strategic Management) in Massachusetts, USA

P:  You’re making me want to learn scuba diving now! (laughs) Looks like we’ll have to catch up separately for me to find out more. Shall we conclude here in the meantime? Perhaps with some advice you’d give to a younger version of yourself, fresh out of university and headed into the corporate world?

A: I’d say the most important thing to do is to be honest with yourself. Apply your strengths and confront your weaknesses.  Identify which strengths and weaknesses when fixed add most value to your professional and personal growth, and focus on those. Skip and embrace the weaknesses that don’t matter much. Spend time with people who you can help succeed, and with those who also care about your success.

Also, there’s no happy ending for a one-man army, especially if you’re taking the first step into uncharted territory. Being independent is great, but never hesitate to rely on your network for support. Don’t forget – your friends will be there for you!


Inspired by Anthony’s story? Join him and his team at https://careers.shopee.com/!

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