20 Mins with David Ding
We had to fortune to find be able to speak with David Ding, our current residential mentor at N-House, and have gleaned valuable insights we would like to share with the community.
Tell me more about yourself.
I am David Ding, majored in B. ENG (Bio-Medical) Class of 2010. I went to NOC Silicon Valley between Aug 2006 — Aug 2007, i.e. 10th batch. I’m currently working at DBS Bank, named the Best Bank in the World by Global Finance in 2018. My core beliefs are that integrity is important and never have regrets because you cannot change the past. I love roller coaster rides and bungee jumping.
Why did you choose to go for NOC?
I was interested in entrepreneurship in general. Also, at that time, Prof Teo was the resident fellow in Raffles Hall, where I stayed for two years. I was inspired by him and other NOC alumni to go for NOC.
How was your internship experience like in Silicon Valley?
I worked at Concurro, Inc. The company vision was to use technology to enable assisted living for the elderly. Concurro built a web application that focused on caregiver scheduling and allowed multiple caregivers (nurse, family etc) to all take care of a patient at the same time without much administrative overhead with the care schedule being digitised and updated in real time. Concurro started as a web application to facilitate remote consultations with doctors, removing the need to travel around as hospitals and clinics could be really far away. They pivoted from virtual doctor consultation to assisted living facility management system before I started there. However, caregiving is tricky and it did not make it because it was too early for its time. The CEO had a background in venture capital. The company’s culture was very diverse, consisting of many different nationalities such as Taiwanese, Indians, Americans from other states.
What you did you do during your internship and what was a key take away?
I was in a marketing role. I organised roadshows, showcased the software at exhibitions and old folks’ home, and was involved in product design. My main takeaway was that clear communication is essential to doing marketing and sales, in order for customers to understand the message you are trying to present as a product and company. I worked hard to change my Singaporean accent during that time to make it understandable to locals there as Singaporeans tend to speak too quickly.
What was the most memorable/embarrassing moment during your time in the States?
One time, we were heading to Stanford to meet my mentor, Seth. We wanted to bring Seth to try hotpot in Fremont, CA. Upon arriving at Stanford, I was excited to meet my mentor and dashed out of my car with the key still in the ignition. My joy was short-lived when I heard my car door clicked lock even though the engine was still running. Cars during that time in America would lock automatically after a short period of time if the engine was running. We spent an hour resolving this issue, where my mentor had to drive me home to retrieve my spare key and then return to Stanford to turn off my car engine. Fortunately, we still managed to make it for hotpot.
How has the NOC experience contributed to your career?
NOC was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. In today’s context, America remains one of the largest economies. The NOC experience has made me better at connecting with others. I was able to witness America during the post-economic bubble in 2006, where the economy slowly picked up. I visited over 25 states on a cross-country drive. I hung out with many different groups of people: the overseas Singaporean community, the locals, and international friends too. The people there were very liberal, and perhaps, much more relaxed with rules. On the other hand, I was also exposed to how social discrimination can be like, and the violence in certain areas.
What’s the best piece of advice someone has given you?
Communication. Communication. Communication. Make sure people understand what you are trying to convey. Ask yourself, how can you speak better? Always communicate with simple terms that are easy for anyone to understand.
Sometimes, there can be a different understanding of the same point being brought across. Don’t be afraid to ask, whether it is to confirm something or to remove ambiguity. Gaps can happen in communication.
Looking back, would you have gone for NOC?
If I were to choose again, I would still have opted for Silicon Valley. However, if you were to ask me to choose in the present context, I would choose Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines etc. I find that America’s culture is (relatively) straightforward and easy to pick up. You can spend 10 years in Southeast Asia, and you are barely scratching the surface. Asian cultures have much more diverse values.
Any book/online resources recommendations?
https://ecorner.stanford.edu/ has great articles and tips!
If you have entrepreneurial endeavours, please tell us more about it, and whether you are looking to hire!
Yes absolutely. Over the past 2 years, I have referred quite a few NOC alumni with great opportunities. Among those, two became full-time movers and shakers in DBS Bank. There is a lot of opportunities at the moment, we already have 16 NOC alumni currently working in the bank (DBS). Check out the career section on the website. DBS Bank has overtaken more established banks in recent years, establishing itself as one of the leading banks in Asia and, in 2018 being named the Best Bank in the World.
This is an initiative we are starting to help you or others share their amazing experience either during NOC or post NOC. If you are intending to hire for your Startup or seek co-founders, or knows anyone who intends to, do reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to be able to tell your story to help others learn and help you with your search in finding the right co-founder or employee that resonates with your values.
Cheers, Weng Kiat, Kiane.