The Back Story – Andy Koh

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The Back Story – Andy Koh
In our monthly interview, The Back Story we sit down with a senior team member of Singapore ADAPTOVATE, Andy Koh.

The Back Story monthly interview features ADAPTOVATE employees from around the world. Each month we ask them 10 questions. Our team is the greatest asset we have, and it’s a privilege to share just a little bit more about who they are.

This month we are featuring our project lead in Singapore Andy Koh.

First up – how long have you worked with us?

It has been a little over two years since I joined ADAPTOVATE.

Why did you join us?  Were you in the industry previously, or looking for a new career direction?

I joined because of the unique proposition of ADAPTOVATE. The blend of Agile values and behaviours with application of consulting know-how appealed to me. At that point in time, I was looking for a change in my career direction towards a better way of working and ADAPTOVATE was it.

How has your previous experience and career helped define where you are now? Would you have done things differently?

I was a consultant with another global consulting firm before I joined, and before that a programme and project manager with global financial corporations. As a programme and project manager, I emphasised the need to follow processes and use tools to complete projects on time and within budget. However, I kept thinking that there had to be a better way of working to both show results and stay happy. As a consultant, I wanted to be relied on for providing valuable insights. Both experiences helped build up to who I am today. The Agile values brought it all together nicely for me. I believe in looking forward so I would not want to change anything in the past.

How do you balance your work life with your ‘real’ life – Do you have a good balance and how important is it to you?

While I do not differentiate between ‘work’ life and ‘real’ life, because there is really only one, I do believe in the benefits of that mental shift that happens when transitioning from the working environment into the non-working environment and vice-versa. If this is the balance we are talking about, then it is important to me. I want a suitable amount of pressure in the work environment to spur me on and a suitable amount of ‘I don’t care’ time to recharge. There have been times in my life where I experienced the extremes of either working too much or relaxing too much. Both resulted in a negative impact eventually and taught me the importance of not going over to either spectrum for too long a time.

With so many of our team remote working,  we always like to ask how do you have your home office/desk set up? Organised or chaos? Any top tips?

I like the concept that ‘change is constant’. My work area is kept in an organised chaos state. There is a method to where and how items are placed, but I tend to change it around occasionally to ensure I do not get too comfortable or bored.

Do you play music during your Agile workshops with clients?  What do you recommend on your latest playlist?

I do not have the habit of playing music during workshops, though I have seen the positive effects of doing it and can occasionally include music into parts of the workshop. If I were to recommend a playlist, it would be a mix of relaxing instrumental music and mainstream pop for that instant ‘I’m into it’ feel. The instrumental music would be for critical thinking situations and mainstream pop for collaborative situations.

How do you think technology has best helped humanity and do you have any concerns about our future?

I believe that technology advances have been a crucial factor in the advancement of humanity in all areas. However, I would not view technology as the solution to problems, rather as an enabler to achieve outcomes. One example I can think of to highlight this is when humans wanted to go to the moon. Wanting to go to the moon had nothing to do with technology, but technology was created because of the need to achieve the outcome of arriving at the moon. Identifying the right outcome helps humanity make that technological advance!

Strategic Foresight allows companies to detect changes early and ensure action is taken quickly.  Which companies have you seen able to change and adapt quickly?  (and hopefully using Agile methods to do so)

Besides the well-known technology companies like Google, insurance companies come to mind. Their ability to adjust policies in reaction to worldwide or regional events can be easily overlooked because they are so ingrained in our global society. Insurance companies were also one of the early adopters of Agile ways of working, and many well-known insurance brands have existed for more than a hundred years.

What does success mean to you personally?

It means I feel like I am happy, engaged and motivated whenever I reflect on myself in my current state.

Finally – You’ve time travelled back to your 10- year old self – What advice would you give?

Have fun and keep trying to find your direction in life.

Special 11th Question – How have you found working through life and work during COVID?

COVID really accelerated the global acceptance of working from home for me. I constantly try to maintain both my mental and physical self in a healthy state even throughout the past year where most of my time is spent at home. One way I found that works is to establish ‘work’ and ‘non-work’ areas. Moving from one area to another eased the transition for me mentally from ‘work’ to ‘non-work’ mode. This worked wonders for times when I needed a short break but could not venture outside. I automatically relaxed more in ‘non-work’ areas and focused more easily in my ‘work’ area.

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