I’m one of the youngest women working in AI
We’re launching the Women in Software Power List to showcase top rising stars in tech, and the Changemakers List to recognise initiatives supporting gender diversity. Meet Chia Wei Lim, aged 29, a role model in AI, who worked for Skymind, an industry champion of Makers.
Chia Wei Lim is the founder of CertifAI, where CertifAI aims to equip and certify AI practitioners to foster AI industry growth. She was a technical lead for Asia Region of Skymind. Chia Wei has been in the data science field for more than 6 years. She accelerates the delivery of business value through enabling AI models serving at scale, crossing use cases of different verticals. Apart from that, she delivers technical sharing across China, Indonesia, and Malaysia and is one of the people leading the effort in building up the AI community in Malaysia.
Chia Wei earned her Master’s degree from Hanyang University located in Korea, where she was also a teaching assistant in Image Processing and Numerical Analysis. She published three papers with the title of “A Real-Time Eye Gaze Correction Method based on Head Pose Estimation in a Calibrated Environment”, “Online Tree-Structured Trajectory Clustering with Anomaly Detection” and “Effective Trajectory Similarity Measure for Moving Objects in Real-world Scene” during her studies. She previously worked at Intel Penang, leading the innovative effort in showing potentials of deep learning and Internet of Things (IoT).
What inspired you to join the software development community?
I was exposed to various subjects in the very early stages of university life. The ability to program a few lines of code and give an output amazed me. I’ve continued to build more complex projects and it continues to challenge me in creativity and system design. The amount of work is tremendous in software development. There are so many areas a software developer can work in. This keeps me on the continuing journey of software development.
What are your qualifications and how did they help you to excel in your role?
While pursuing my Masters degree in Electronics and Computer Engineering, I specialised in computer vision and worked on industry projects at Vision & Image Engineering Laboratory. I was in a position where I had to advance in academic understanding while applying these fundamentals to projects. Going through the process for 2 years prepared me for the working industry. With the rapidly changing pace of the technology world, it’s crucial to keep up with new trends, solve pain points in industry and make the right decision as a technical leader.
What are some of the challenges of being a woman in the software world?
I believe I’m speaking on behalf of many women — and not just those working in the software world, but the entire working sphere. Even though the equality of men and women has been advocated for a long time, for now many women are still aren’t taken as seriously as men at work. However, I have realised that by continuing to try and by constantly backing up decisions and conversations with justification, people will eventually acknowledge that we are a crucial part of work.
There is also this glass ceiling issue where women tend to suffer a disadvantage when it comes to salary offerings and career advancement. As far as how I handle it, I never see myself as a “female figure” when I’m in a meeting. Rather, I’m a competent figure who is able to provide insightful opinions on my professional domain. Practising a positive and resilient mindset is important to be taken seriously at work, and eventually, I believe it will give us a chance to make a few cracks in the glass ceiling.
What more can be done to encourage women to consider a career in the profession?
Breaking the impression that software development is a career designed for men would definitely be a good place to start. This can be done by more campaigns and messaging to the public crowd. Offering success stories of women who play a significant role in the industry would also encourage more women to be in the field.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time with respect to your career?
I definitely see myself progressing to a more senior role in the area of artificial intelligence, and making a more significant impact from the perspective of products and solutions. There’s still a lot of undiscovered areas and missing gaps in artificial intelligence. I truly believe it will further improve human lives and I want to be part of these discoveries.
Who is your role model and why?
I have always been inspired by Steve Jobs and his impact on the technology world. His work principles are very powerful and make me believe that the hard work we put in throughout our careers will eventually lead to a wonderful journey. Hence, we can only work our story out by connecting the dots backwards and we have to trust our journey.
What advice would you give to women wishing to enter the software development profession?
Entering the software development profession is relatively easier compared to the past. To advance progressively in the career, however, still requires a lot of work. One of the things women can do is to find mentors or seniors who advocate for women in the industry for mentorship.
Being open, confident, thoughtful and articulate is crucial to make sure you are taken seriously all the time. Last but not least, keep a healthy mindset and do not think of oneself being inferior due to the mere factor of being a woman. Perform your best with the grit, spirit and belief that you can achieve something impactful.