With over 20 years of work experience split between the public sector and corporate environment, Too Choon Yong, Associate Director of Security at Klook, has decided to take on a new challenge and join his first startup. Two months into his tenure at Klook, we talk to Choon Yong to find an answer to the question that's on many minds: is working in a startup really THAT different from working in corporations? Is the startup hype real? And last but not least, how do you land a job in a startup?
Can you tell us what is it that you do here at Klook?
I joined Klook to lead and grow the security team which is currently based between Singapore and Shenzhen. As an e-commerce business, we process a lot of customer data and partner data so security is incredibly important. My mission is to ensure top-level cybersecurity so we can build and maintain trust among our employees, customers and partners.
What was your work background before joining Klook?
I have 15 years of technical background in IT. Six years ago, I switched my career to cybersecurity which became a huge passion of mine and I’m currently a certified information security, governance, risk management and compliance (GRC) practitioner.
Too Choon Yong, Associate Director of Security at Klook
When I first got into the field, I was curious how the Singapore government runs their cybersecurity. For 3 years, I worked on a few projects that supported government agencies which allowed me to understand the government security practices and structure. After that, I joined one of the telecom companies in Singapore where I also spent 3 years, focusing on security governance and later on compliance and security architecture.
What attracted you to join Klook?
There has been a lot of buzz around startups in Singapore, it’s quite a hot topic. So I thought: why not challenge myself by joining a startup? I was curious how I could contribute and solve problems in the startup environment.
I was drawn to Klook because it’s not only well-known in the APAC region, it’s also growing globally. To me, that meant that I would have an opportunity to grow my career regionally and globally, and work with people across different countries and cultures. After talking to the interviewing team, I learned that the leaders at Klook had a similar vision on the role of cybersecurity in the company. It seemed like a great opportunity for me to take that leap and to contribute.
Is working in a startup really different from working in corporations?
I think there are skills and experiences you can only gain in a startup. The culture at Klook is really all about creativity and innovation. The whole environment here is about building something of value. You see people constantly show initiative, suggest improvements. They don’t shy away from hard work and putting in extra hours because they take it as a mission, not just a regular job.
Everyone feels like a small business partner, they take full ownership. As long as I have the expertise, experience, knowledge, I will contribute to it, add on, suggest a way to improve. Everyone participates in making the company successful.
I notice less hierarchy than in a more mature business as well. Everyone on the team is very hands-on, they get things done fast. Because of that, people here are very talented, they have a wide range of skills. For example, it’s not only the managers who have stakeholder management or communication skills. The junior employees are involved in many different tasks and projects where they pick up skills I didn’t expect from their seniority level. The quality of work has really impressed me.
How would you describe the culture here at Klook?
There are a few elements that create our Klook DNA but I think ownership is the most important. Everyone feels like a small business partner, they take full ownership. People really have that mindset of “if anything happens, pass it on to me, I will take care of it”. It doesn't matter whose job it is. As long as I have the expertise, experience, knowledge, I will contribute to it, add on to it, suggest a way to improve. Everyone participates in making the company successful.
Klook Hackathon 2020: The culture at Klook is all about creativity and innovation.
We have very clear goals and there is no micro-management. I found that this approach brings more productivity with better results. Very tangible evidence of this is the speed. When there’s an issue at Klook, the response from the Technology and Engineering team is almost immediate, with a turnaround of just a couple of hours. I see how hard-working the team is and how fast they jump in to contribute. I have to say this is incredibly motivating for me, it drives me to want to do more, to help out the team. Once you work in this type of environment, it changes your mindset.
Did you experience any challenges while transitioning to a startup?
It’s always a bit challenging when you change to new environments. But it has been very manageable at Klook because of people, processes and technology. Our People & Culture team has a mature onboarding program, including the Buddy Program which I found very helpful and a very detailed Intranet. I also found the cross-team networking very good. In Singapore, we had a chance to have small group events before the holidays and we got to know each other on a personal level which was great.
On the technology side, a lot of the tools we use at Klook were new to me. But I think if you have a positive attitude and are a fast learner, these tools are easy to pick up. To be honest, there haven’t been many challenges when joining Klook because people are very positive and keen to help each other. Even though most teams have a remote setup, everyone is very happy to jump on a call, get to know each other, have a chat.
Is working in a startup for you? Read 10 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Applying For A Job In A Tech Company to find out!
As a hiring manager, what kind of people would you like to see on your team?
It’s important that they are passionate about the role and have relevant skill sets. Personally, I’m really passionate about cybersecurity: I read all types of relevant books, I wake up early in the morning to catch up on cybersecurity news. That kind of dedication and passion is something I look for in my team members.
Candidates who stand out to me have an actionable and realistic plan for their personal growth, and show the drive to achieve their goals. There are many growth opportunities at Klook and there will be even more as we expand but you need to be motivated to learn.
We love learning at Klook! The team in Shenzhen attends our Train the Trainer workshop where they learn how to share their expertise efficiently.
They also need to realize that startups have a small workforce with a huge mission. With a lean team, everyone needs to pull their weight. If you don’t deliver on time, you become a bottleneck and delay your team’s work. So I’m definitely looking for someone who’s ready to take full ownership of their work and who can keep up with our fast pace.
Do you have any advice for people applying for the tech team at Klook?
Culture is incredibly important here so I recommend reading up on that [find more information on the About and How We Hire pages]. When we do the interviews, we want to learn about the candidate’s mindset and aspirations. We look for people who want to achieve something, who have ambitious goals and who will feel comfortable in a fast-changing environment. You need to demonstrate that you have those skills and attitudes.
Our tech team is growing!
Posted by Klook Careers