Yinyee, stem professional


I am currently studying for a PhD in computer science.  My area of research is in applying reinforcement learning (a branch of machine learning) to solve combinatorial optimization problems.


I was encouraged to do my undergraduate degree in actuarial science by my first mentor (a female civil engineer!) who noticed my interest and aptitude in maths (specifically, in probability).  Upon graduation, I obtained a place in the graduate programme of an international bank.  I spent eight fulfilling years in various roles ranging from product management to risk analytics and banking regulation to corporate strategy.  During that time, my job took me to many countries — certain jobs have a high degree of geographical mobility.


I decided to do a conversion master’s degree in computer science during my sabbatical year.  I had enjoyed the one module of (C++) programming in my undergraduate course and wanted to pursue it further.  Computer science is fascinating, and it is so much more than just programming! For my electives, I chose to do functional programming, information retrieval and data mining, and artificial intelligence and neural networks.  I wrote a cryptocurrency from scratch for my master’s dissertation.  I found it all so interesting that I decided to switch careers upon graduating with my Master’s.


I joined another graduate programme, this time as a software engineer.  The software that my company writes powers much of the travel industry, from travel reservation systems to safety-critical software for airlines.  Shortly after joining, I was selected to do a PhD, sponsored by my company, on a topic of commercial interest.  Initially, I was too daunted to apply, but I was encouraged to submit an application and give a presentation of my ideas.


Mentors have played a huge role in my professional life.  From telling me to “do what scares you” to insisting that I “take a seat at the table” instead of in a corner of the room, they have changed the trajectory of my career.