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One tech at a time

Thirty years ago, Mr Yap Mia Kai troubleshot his first technological problem during a Build-Your-Own-PC class at a neighbourhood community centre. His computer failed to boot up correctly and he had to rule out potential technical problems in a structured manner before finally arriving at the solution. Since then, he has been fascinated with the systematic nature of IT solutions. In fact, he says he has always known that he wants a future in IT.

Today, the 39-year-old director at the Inland Revenue Interactive Network 3 Architecture Office (I3AO) leads a team that’s architecting and designing IT systems at the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS).

Mr Yap applied for the IRAS Overseas Undergraduate Scholarship after he graduated from junior college in 1998. The scholarship gave him the opportunity to pursue a bachelor in computer science at Cornell University in the United States — an experience that widened his perspective and helped him build a strong
foundation in a subject that will later become essential in his career.

At that time, he had read about the modern IT technologies adopted by IRAS and was keen on being a part of an organisation that was open to pushing the limits when leveraging on technology to make things more intuitive for end users.

“IRAS explored online services for taxation when Internet technology was still nascent. In recent years; it has also adopted interesting technologies and concepts such as analytics, microservices and cloud computing.

“I appreciate how the organisation is constantly refreshing and revamping its IT system to make it better,” says Mr Yap.

Expanding skill set
Mr Yap leads a 18-strong team that oversees the architecture and design for the Inland Revenue Interactive Network 3 (IRIN 3). IRIN 3 is the core system that runs all tax-related administrative activities at IRAS. Because of the complex processing and massive amount of data running on the system daily, it is important for Mr Yap and his team to actively explore and leverage modern technologies to maintain and improve the efficiency of the tax administration process.

Mr Yap believes that the knowledge and skills he has today would not be possible without the learning opportunities IRAS has presented to him over the years.

From the beginning of his career with IRAS, he has taken on multiple roles — ranging from a developer to tech planner and a project manager — for various projects with varying degree of complexity. The work experience and skills he amassed over the years led him to his current position as the director of the I3AO unit. “I’ve been with IRAS for over 15 years now and there has never been a dull moment. I’ve had the fortune to try multiple roles and was always working on new challenges, one after another.

“Being constantly engaged and stretched with new challenges makes my career a truly fruitful one,” he says.