About Xian

Project Director

Portrait of Kode Digital's project director Xian

The Tech Lover

Since I was small, I have been very sensitive to numbers and a quick learner of electronic devices. During primary school, I have learnt how to use e-dictionary, personal computer, Walkman, game console and digital camera. I got my first email address at 8, which I am still using to this day! (Surprise emoji) When I started secondary school, I developed interest in understanding how computers were built and what is inside the motherboard. Since then, I knew I wanted to study Information Technology (IT). Most of my friends picked Science Stream in form 4. However, even though most of the adults persuaded me to go to Science class, I insisted on going to the IT class, even when I didn’t have any friends in that class. I knew that I didn’t want to waste time studying the subjects that I don’t enjoy studying and won’t be using in the future.

Nothing Could Stop My Passion

I also heard a lot of voices saying, “IT is for guys!”. Looking back at that time, I am still glad that I made the right choice. In a totally new environment, apart from learning the subjects I am passionate about, I have also made long lasting friendships. When I did South Australian Matriculation (SAM) in college, I picked IT again as one of my 5 subjects. Around 80% of the syllabus was repeating what I studied in secondary school, but most of my classmates have never been exposed to IT before so I guided them along the way. My college results allowed me to enter one of the universities in Australia’s Group of Eight, and even better, I was eligible for a partial scholarship. It was difficult to choose between IT, Computer Science and Software Engineering but I thought IT is broader and less boring compared to the rest.

Becoming Someone Who Has Skills Not Only In IT

In my university, there are many majors in Bachelor of Information Technology and Systems. During my freshman year, I was interested in Multimedia so I picked up basic 3D and website development subjects. A lot of these subjects require a lot of creativity and self-learning. For instance, in my advanced 3D subject, the ultimate goal is to create a 3D character with colours and textures on it, then animate it. To create textures, I needed to learn how to edit the texture templates using Adobe Photoshop and to animate it, I needed video editing skills. It also takes a lot of imagination to give the character weight and expression. After that, I thought I scored better in programming subjects so I changed my major to Application Development. I graduated with a wide variety of skills in hand, from visuals and video editing, to 3D animation, to programming. My final year project has also given us more exposure in dealing with actual clients and documentation writing, and that’s also where I met my husband☺

Being a student ambassador at Monash University has improved my leadership and communication skills. I got to meet many lecturers and friends from other countries that I still keep in touch with until today. At one point, I spoke to one of the senior lecturers and organised a weekly quiz about IT in general. The university had offered attractive cash vouchers to the winner of the quiz. It increased student engagement and encouraged students to study more about different topics.

Another thing I liked about Monash University is that there are many clubs and societies. I was in the Modern Jazz club and eventually became part of the marketing committee because I was interested in exploring more about marketing. My main role was to consistently update the club’s Facebook page with the weekly class schedule and any social events we held. Instagram was not popular yet back then. Unlike now, this role didn’t require me to create nice visuals but it did require me to come out with attractive copywriting to get more students to attend each class.

My Experience Has Made Me Who I Am Today

My web development career started when I was approached to take up freelance WordPress projects during my penultimate year and I was lucky that the clients allowed me to learn while working on their project. I spent a lot of my own time researching and looking for the best way to achieve what the clients want in these projects. I have built a strong relationship with these clients and until today, after 7 years, one of my first clients is still happy to give me more projects. I also had the chance to do my internship at PwC. It wasn’t required by my course, I wanted to experience working in a corporate environment. The HR at PwC put me in the Marketing and Communications Department to assist with website updates, brainstorm ideas for their social media and organise internal events. In this internship, I gained more experience in marketing and branding, but not much about website updating.

Two months after my graduation, I landed a website developer full time job in WME, Melbourne. It was a big team and everyone was very friendly and worked very closely together. We always chit chat at work and regularly go out for lunch. My colleagues and I can talk about any topic outside of work and we are always happy to help each other. My web developing skills have also accelerated from junior level to mid-level within 1 and a half years. I had the chance to learn both frontend and backend development. We took turns to hold a bi-weekly one-hour training session so we could share about a topic to the other developers in the team. The topic may not be relevant to our work, but it definitely gave us more general knowledge that we can apply to our work later. After that, due to a change of management, I found another job in a much smaller company. My director treated all of us very well and always brought us out for lunch. We don’t have to be at work at 9am on the dot and could go out for a 5-minute walk when we are too tired of staring at the screen. Here is how I discovered that we can be more productive if we were given more flexibility at work.

When I was working full time, I also did a project on the side with my cousin. Spartext, was a marketplace we created to let university students sell their used books to their juniors. We integrated a secure verification process and payment gateway to allow them to trade without hassle. My cousin was in charge of the offline marketing part of the business and I, on the other hand, had to be in charge of the social media and website development. We worked hard together to promote the platform and the biggest achievement we had in this was someone from Singapore wanted to franchise our platform! It took me a lot of time to develop and refine the website while working full time at a company as well as taking up freelance projects at the same time. Despite the busy workload, I always try to meet all my deadlines.

Moving Back To Malaysia & Still Pursuing My Passion

Due to visa conditions, I had to move back to Malaysia with my husband who was working as a business development manager. It was definitely not in our plan to come back that soon so we didn’t know what to do at first. So, we decided to put our skills together and start up our own digital agency! We were lucky to have a few connections that were interested in our services but we knew we couldn’t go too far if we kept relying on connections for projects. We started enrolling in digital marketing courses and participated in networking events. Eventually, we expanded to become a team of 7 and are offering more services now.

Today, even though I am in a management role, I still enjoy creating beautiful websites and helping my clients achieve their targets. I think digital marketers and developers should be appreciated because they play an important role in the advancement of technology and realising imaginations.

The biggest challenge for me now is there are many things I want to learn but I do not have enough time to learn all of them. Everyone in our team has different fortes and together, we can produce amazing work and great results. We enjoy learning from each other and giving advice to each other. During our free time, we always browse social media to get fresh ideas and the latest trends on the Internet. If you think you are the right fit of the team, feel free to drop us an email!

My advice to students is, if you want to pursue your passions, just chase for it. What others want you to do may not be what you will enjoy. You know you are on the right path when you wake up inspired every day. Everyone defines success differently, so just do what you like.

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