Credit: Lawrence Teo

Krystal has always believed that technology holds the key to unlocking a stronger, self-reliant and connected nation.

That is why the 20-year-old, who aspires to be on the board of a tech company one day, has been voraciously learning about technology and applying it to the community. Her efforts have been recognised at Tech Leaders Awards by the Singapore Computer Society recently, where she was the recipient of the Future Leaders in Tech award.

Her interest in this industry started seven years ago, when she forgot to bring her wallet to school, and was compelled to use the Apple Pay app that her father had installed in her phone to pay for food and transport home. Wowed by the convenience of digital payment powered by financial technology, Krystal decided to take coding classes and build a career around tech.

“I thought, if I could be the one to create and push the frontiers of technology, why not do that, rather than just be an end user? Besides, I like challenges and problem solving, so to have the ability to instantly apply everything that you’ve learnt to substantial and meaningful uses, like creating a website to help, say, drive revenue for hawkers, means a lot to me,” she muses.

Credit: Lawrence Teo

So far, Krystal has wielded her technological knowledge to help various sectors. She built a website for Sunlight Alliance for Action to Tackle Online Harms – an initiative by the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI), coded a programme for global investment company GIC, and interned with the Trust Tech office under Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), helping with nascent technology and digital trade agreements. She also sits on East Coast GRC’s working committee, which looks into how seniors can upskill and go digital. That’s not all. During her days at Temasek Polytechnic (TP), she found the cross-polytechnic Girls in Tech Committee, an initiative made up of girls studying infocomm technology courses in the country’s five national polytechnics. The aim is to empower more women to embark on a tech journey, and enrich as well as retain the local talent pool through workshops, hackathons and mentorship opportunities.

“Whenever I attend an event or interview, I see mostly men. I have seen many girls actually turn around and go home because they felt inferior, shy and afraid – they didn’t know what to say or felt like they didn’t belong there. So I thought, how can I create a platform to really encourage more girls in tech to be courageous and see that they can fit into a male-dominated industry?” explains Krystal.

Krystal Lee (middle), president and founder of the cross-polytechnic Girls In Tech Committee, with Kuo Pin, CEO of NCS Group, and Wynthia Goh, head of Next Digital

“The committee looks at three things. Talent attraction – how do we seed this tech mindset early among primary and secondary school girls? Retainment – how do we make sure that attrition rates among women in tech stay low? The last one is development. After you graduate from polytechnic and join either the university or workforce, we will handhold you a bit more so that you don’t feel like you don’t belong in the tech sector,” she adds.

Krystal recently graduated as valedictorian from TP with a diploma in financial business informatics. She is now pursuing a dual degree in information systems and business management at Singapore Management University, after which she hopes to get her master’s degree.

“There are three goals that I’ve always wanted to see bear fruit. One is to have digitally adept Singaporeans, even among the elderly, second is to have a more buoyant digital economy, and third is to put Singapore on the world map,” she says.