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NIS – A Remarkable Journey With The National Infocomm Scholarship

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An education at a world-class institution, a work attachment stint in Hong Kong, job placement in an MNC and professional development courses – these were just some of the highlights of Leonard Lu’s journey with the National Infocomm Scholarship (NIS).

The most compelling feature of the NIS is that it offers a total of 26 prestigious ­infocomm organisations from the ­public and private sectors in which scholars can serve their bond in.  Leonard said, ‘I think that the most attractive draw of the NIS is that it provides scholars with the best of both worlds – the prestige of a ­government scholarship and the exposure to the ­private sector.’

Leonard embarked on his full overseas scholarship under the NIS in 2009, taking up a BSc in Engineering in Cornell ­University, USA, an Ivy League research university.  In the three years there, he built a Facebook app for university course selection, performed an anthropological analysis of Southeast Asian cults and ­spirits, attended talks on Wall Street, ­explored ­social inequality issues in America, and learnt how to snowboard and play golf, within the scope of the Cornell curriculum.

Effusive in praise of his time there, Leonard said, ‘Cornell is an amazing world-class ­institution and the breadth of education is unparalleled.  What you get is not simply the impartation of knowledge, but an entire educational ­experience altogether.  Interdisciplinary research is ­becoming more and more important and it is interesting to see how some of these fields relate to my core interests. I thoroughly enjoyed being given the freedom to explore my interests within and ­outside of my major.’

‘Cornell has taught me to explore outside of the realms of my comfort zone and be unafraid to take risks.  I learnt that successful people are those who identify that one thing which they are passionate about and go on to be really good at it,’ he added.

During his time at Cornell, Leonard went for his NIS attachment at Barclays in Hong Kong. He was assigned to the desktop services team which managed local hardware inventory and provided daily support to issues related to hardware, operating and basic firmware.  Being new to the team, and being able to look at things with a ‘fresh pair of eyes’, Leonard was tasked to identify areas for improvement within the team and devise measures to target these areas, ­allowing him to challenge his creativity and innovation in deploying solutions within the practical realms of an organisation.

Leonard has embarked on his career at ­Barclays in an analyst role this July. He recognises how critical infocomm professionals can be in banking and financial institutions such as Barclays: ‘Infocomm professionals are indispensable to the financial industry because good technology distinguishes successful firms from its competitors.  In a world where a split-second delay can cause millions of dollars of lost revenue, having the ability to build and maintain reliable, fast and secure technology is critical to sustaining a successful business.’

Beyond just technical skills, Leonard also feels that his time as an intern has also allowed him to hone several soft skills such as communication, problem-solving and organisational, which would be increasingly important as he progresses in his career.

In addition, Leonard had opportunities through the NIS talent management ­programme which allowed him to take courses to enhance his professional capabilities, ranging from ­vendor-specific expertise to soft skills like ­business communication.

In the future, Leonard, who is inspired by ­entrepreneurs such as Michael Bloomberg, ­Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, seeks to obtain an ­important managerial role in the technology ­sector or become a successful technopreneur.  He stated that Singapore has all the makings of an infocomm hub – a central location in Asia, openness to foreign ideas and investment, sound technology infrastructure and policies, and a highly educated labour force.

Finally, when asked about career ­opportunities in the infocomm sector, Leonard said, ‘We are in an age when having infocomm expertise is ­probably more desirable than at any time in the past.  Every company in the world is in need of some form of information technology service to handle its operations.’

Be remarkable.  Think infocomm.

LEONARD LU HANXU
National Infocomm Scholarship
Age: 24
Attained: BSc in Information Science, Systems & Technology (magna cum laude) from Cornell University
Now: Analyst (Technology) at Barclays