When you go grocery shopping, do you just see aisles of fresh vegetables and fruits or an
opportunity to combat the issue of climate change and food security?
As a woman who aspires to help solve the challenges our rapidly changing world is facing,
the planning and management of large-scale systems is an area in which you could make a
difference. From making transportation more environmentally friendly, to optimising
businesses, some of tomorrow’s most exciting breakthroughs will come in systems and
operations management. By using skills and tools to design, analyse and optimise
challenges, you can solve these problems in an impactful and sustainable manner.
Leading The Fight Against Climate Change
An alumna of SUTD’s Engineering Systems and Design (ESD) programme, Pek Yun Ning has worn many hats – from being a data engineer at Schroder Investment Management to joining the company’s technology and business teams, Yun Ning’s experience has armed her with the skills to start her own business, SGP Foods.
Pek Yun Ning
Engineering Systems and Design (ESD), Class of 2019 (formerly from Dunman High School)
Chairman, CEO and Founder of SGP Foods
A resource efficiency technology company, SGP Foods uses a multi-pronged approach involving technology, research, and education to combat the issues of climate change and food security. Through its carbon crediting, verticulture, and energy efficiency solutions, the company aims to build Singapore’s food and climate resilience by engaging the 3 ‘P’s – the public sector, the private sector, and the people.
When asked about her inspiration for starting the company, Yun Ning says that she had always had her sights set on entrepreneurship. It was only when she was in Silicon Valley did she realise she wanted to solve one of the most pressing problems of humanity – climate change and food security – with a focus on doing good for Singapore.
Using technology to solve a real-world problem as big as climate change is a Herculean task, one that requires a profound understanding of the technology at hand. But for Yun Ning, technology is just one aspect of innovation.
“Technology may be the easier part. How do you make it user-friendly or optimise its build to drive down costs? I would say design is the deliberate part of technology, to make sure that it is purposeful and progressive,” says Yun Ning. She believes that user-centric design thinking is the art of what makes technology useful and relevant to people, and is what differentiates a successful innovation from a regular piece of technology.
Adaptability is the Key to Innovation
To design a more efficient world as you specialise in ESD, you will need to first understand the world around you. And now more than ever, as the world becomes more uncertain and complex, it is important for you to constantly adapt, innovate and seek answers to the issues at hand.
For Yun Ning, her time at SUTD taught her to be aware of the problems in the world to solve, and to understand that things can always be done in a better way. Most importantly, her experience in school gave her the outlook to be the creator of change, rather than wait for someone else to do it.
“SUTD has taught me that a rapidly changing world is the world that we are living in today. And that we must make sure we are ready for it,” says Yun Ning. She finds that the skills inculcated in her during her undergraduate education are similar to what it takes to survive and thrive in the world today.
Yun Ning (right) and her Co-Founder & CTO, Jonah Crawford.
A better world is also a world that is future-ready. Going beyond identifying opportunities for improvement and designing new, creative ways and systems to enhance how the world operates, the ESD programme allows you to harness these skills and apply them to industries and businesses’ operations to better our world in the face of unprecedented change.
If the thought of being an innovator in this field who helps build a better world excites you, find out more about ESD here.
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