President's Message to ITMA Members

Category: Blog Created: Friday, 23 December 2016 Published: Friday, 23 December 2016

Posted by Alvin Ong on December 23, 2016

Dear ITMA Members,

During my growing-up years, I used to frequent an emporium near a HDB flat in Queenstown where I lived. Naturally, as a child, I would gravitate towards the toys and games section of the departmental store and would spend many hours exploring. On one of my many visits, my attention was fixated on the new board games such as Othello, chess and checkers. In particular, I was intrigued by the tagline “A Minute to Learn. A Lifetime to Master” on the colourful box of the chess set. “Is it really so easy to learn but so hard to master?” I thought to myself. I felt the desire to learn the game and bought my first chess set after saving up for several weeks. Upon unpacking the box, I found the instruction manual and started to learn the rules and history of the game. Of course the tagline is not totally accurate as it definitely took me longer than one minute to learn the game.

I was blessed in that I lived next to a neighbourhood public library and in a fortuitous way, it became like my personal reference library for knowledge of all kinds and contributed to my development in chess and life. As I was determined to master the game, I would initially borrow chess books meant for beginners and intermediate players. While reading them, I was totally fascinated by the game’s very logical and yet artistic aspect (the unique way each chess piece functions and how the pieces can combine so elegantly together in the hands of a skilful chess master to deliver a coup de grace) as well as its rich heritage. Then I quickly progressed to reading advanced books written about the top grandmasters of those days and diligently studied the games of the world champions such as Bobby Fischer and Anatoly Karpov. At one stage, I had probably read every chess book in the library and hence had to visit other libraries to fulfil my quest for knowledge. I even competed in several chess tournaments and played as many blitz games as my school schedule could allow. However, as hard as I tried, I failed to master the game. There are still so many gaps in my understanding of the game and I was not entirely pleased with the outcome of some of my tournament games. I then realised that mastery is not a destination. It is not a “mountain top” moment of having arrived at the pinnacle. It is but a lifelong journey of self-awareness and continuous improvement. In essence, it truly takes a lifetime to master although true mastery could be an elusive target.

I believe the same principle applies to the mastery of the skills and competencies in our career as ICT leaders. The mastery of oneself is a lifelong effort and can only be achieved through a recognition of our individual strengths and weaknesses and taking deliberate steps to address those gaps. Hence, one of the four pillars of our ITMA Masterplan is about Advancement and Personal Mastery. We are developing a concept plan to support the continuing professional development of ICT leaders, to keep their skills continuously updated and future-ready. Some of you have asked about the outcome of the ITMA 5-Year Masterplan workshop that took place on 28th July 2016. This is still in a work-in-progress stage as the Council needs more time for in-depth discussions on priorities, resources and sustainability of the various excellent ideas before sharing with you.

Let me also provide some updates which could be of interest to you:


ITMA-NTUC U Associate Strategic Partnership

ITMA-NTUC U Associate Strategic Partnership (2nd December 2016)

I am pleased to announce that ITMA has entered in a strategic partnership with NTUC on their flagship U Associate Programme. This partnership will enable both organizations to work closely together to develop a customised programme to help ITMA members stay future-ready and also provide exciting opportunities to contribute their expertise to the society-at-large. A signing ceremony took place on the 2nd December 2016 at NTUC Centre. Minister in Prime Minister’s Office and NTUC Secretary-General, Chan Chun Sing, witnessed the MOU signing ceremony after an engaging dialogue with key council members. We took this opportunity to invite him to be the Guest-of-Honour at the upcoming ITMA-Accenture 30th CIO Workshop, tentatively scheduled to take place in May 2017. I would also like to thank Dr Kwong Yuk Wah, the CIO of NTUC, for facilitating this opportunity to collaborate with NTUC.


ITMA Toastmasters Club

Do you face stage fright whenever you have to deliver a speech to a large group? Do you wish you could deliver a more persuasive presentation at the board meeting? Do you wish you could facilitate more effective meetings? Many of us as ICT leaders do face these type of situations from time to time. Very often, how effectively we present our case can mean securing the budget, getting buy-ins from colleagues and support from bosses. Fortunately, there is a proven system to practise speaking before an audience and receiving feedback which helps in self-awareness and personal mastery over time. On the 3rd Friday evening of each month at the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, a group of about 30 toastmasters meet together to deliver prepared speeches, impromptu speeches and speech evaluations. Our ITMA toastmasters club was chartered in July 2003 during the term of past ITMA president Vivienne Tan. It serves as a platform for any ITMA member interested to further develop his or her oral communication and leadership skills. The toastmasters club is part of a global non-profit Toastmasters International organization which has 13,500 toastmasters clubs worldwide, including 200 in Singapore. The ITMA toastmasters club is currently helmed by former ITMA council member, Alfred Anand, who is serving as club president.


10th CIO Study Trip

10th CIO Study Trip (22 to 28 October 2016)

The 10th CIO Study Trip exceeded many of our expectations in terms of learning and networking opportunities. With 50 attendees, it was by far the largest ITMA contingent for an overseas study trip. In six days, we managed to squeeze in 12 site visits, beginning with an exciting game day experience at Levi’s Stadium on Sunday morning and culminating with a visit to Airbnb HQ in San Francisco on Friday afternoon. Many felt that the programme’s pace was just right and didn’t feel rushed despite the packed schedule. There was also ample time to schedule in a shopping trip to the Livermore Premium Outlet for a few hours. At the various site visits, we admired the avant-garde workspaces, meeting rooms and canteens of the famous Silicon Valley companies such as Apple, Dropbox, Google, Intuit and Airbnb, which also helped to attract tech talent. I can’t help wishing for more of such inspiring and innovative office space design concepts in Singapore’s local companies. The planning committee led by Vice-President, Alan Goh, is planning for the 11th CIO Study Trip, possibly centred on Germany or the east coast of USA.

I also need to recount a near accident that happened on the 3rd day which will serve as a good lesson for future study trips in terms of personal safety and contingency planning considerations. As the coach driver applied the emergency brakes to avoid an accident, Nancy, who was at the front of the coach, standing up to retrieve a microphone to brief our group, fell backwards and hurt her back and head. She was in great pain but showed remarkable courage and strength to soldier on the trip. We are extremely grateful for prayers of many members and Nancy’s subsequent miraculous recovery over the next few days. Upon her return to Singapore, she consulted a GP and a Chinese TCM physician and had been given a clean bill of health.


Concluding Remarks

Our first event in 2017 will the ITMA 36th Annual Dinner on Friday 13th January 2017 at the Conrad Centennial Singapore hotel where we will party away to the theme of Rock and Roll. We have also invited a few special guests such as the CEOs of IMDA, GovTech and association leaders to join us on that evening. I hope you have registered and certainly look forward to catching up with you.

As the Christmas holiday and celebrations are just a few days away and the 2016 Year of Disruptions will come to a close shortly, I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year. We all live in uncertain times when change can be sudden and non-linear, where boundaries are blurring everywhere and the old order of things might not apply anymore. Many things will be beyond our control so it is best not to worry too much but to focus on the positive and live life to the fullest!


Alvin Ong
President, IT Management Association (ITMA)
23rd December 2016

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