Singaporeans flock to join firm with in-house masseuse

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If data analysts and data scientists weren’t already in high demand in Singapore, another high-profile company has joined the growing list of employers recruiting them in large numbers: Shopee. The expanding e-commerce platform – which has a headcount of about 1,000 people and is a unit of New York-listed Singaporean tech giant Sea – is also poaching some of its data professionals directly from banks. 

Shopee’s data division has 24 Singapore-based vacancies, according to the firm’s career site. In comparison, Singapore tech unicorn Grab has 22 data openings, while the Republic’s second largest bank, OCBC, has eight.

Speaking at the opening of Shopee’s new office yesterday, Forrest Li, the billionaire chief executive and founder of parent company Sea, said Shopee is set to expand its technology workforce, and data professionals are central to these plans. “As we grow, we will continue to offer exciting new roles to Singaporeans. For instance, our data science teams are rapidly growing their capabilities – from basic machine learning to complex products like chatbots,” he said.

The data unit at Shopee is made up of business intelligence and data science teams. Business intelligence helps build the firm’s data platforms and conducts analysis to solve business challenges, while data science uses advanced tech (such as machine learning, computer vision, and natural language processing) to power key projects at the company.

Shopee generally prefers its data scientists to have a Masters or PhD in computer science, statistics, mathematics or machine-learning related fields, according to its careers site. As a data analyst at the firm, you’ll typically find yourself assigned to work with a specific part of the company (such as risk or regional brand partnerships) to provide it with in-depth analysis to help improve business performance.

Shopee’s data professionals are now housed in a hip new headquarters in Singapore’s Science Park. The 244,000 square-foot office – which is expected to eventually house up to 3,000 employees – features ‘nap pods’ on all six floors, a mini arcade, an in-house masseuse, and a dinner catering service.

Despite these office amenities, Shopee might not find it entirely straightforward to hire the data professionals it needs. The firm faces strong competition for data talent from the likes of AWS, Google, Grab and Facebook, which is building a new data centre in Singapore. And as we reported last week, banks in Singapore – in particular Citi, HSBC, Standard Chartered, DBS, OCBC and UOB – have increased their hiring of data scientists, analysts and engineers over the past year. Senior technologists from DBS and JP Morgan told us earlier this year that data professionals are among their hiring priorities.

Shopee’s past hiring history, however, suggests that data professionals will be on its radar as it recruits to staff up its new office. Many of the current employees in its data division have previously worked for banks, according to their LinkedIn profiles.

Tien-Dung Nguyen, a data analyst and senior associate, joined Shopee in July last year, having worked for Morgan Stanley as a stress testing analyst and then (briefly) for BlackRock, for example. Data analyst Xiaoqin Yi moved from China to DBS in Singapore in January last year, but then joined the marketing analytics team at Shopee just six months later. Fellow data analyst Zhengyan Yang also worked for DBS (between 2016 and 2018), and is now a senior associate at Shopee, according to LinkedIn.

Shopee, which was founded in 2015 and is now the leading e-commerce platform in Southeast Asia and Taiwan, has also taken on graduates into its data team who’ve interned at banks, and it’s hired from banks for non-data roles such as finance, QA testing, and project management, according to LinkedIn.

The firm has also committed to training more than 100 employees to become data analysts and software engineers under the Infocomm Media Development Authority’s TechSkills Accelerator initiative.

Shopee did not respond to a request to comment on its recruitment.

Image credit: BraunS, Getty

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