Interview

Interview with Shenton Education Group

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Dr Myo Thida is the newly appointed Vice President of Shenton Education Group (SEG) and concurrently the Deputy General Manager of SEG subsidiaries, Temasek International College (TIC) and Shenton Institute of Applied Finance (SIAF). TIC monthly newsletter (TIC Heartbeat) student journalist Yadanar Oo had the opportunity to chat with Dr Myo Thida earlier today. Below is the transcript of the interview.

Yadanar: Thank you for your time this morning Dr Myo. Please tell us about your education background and the type of research you do?

Dr Myo: I received my PhD degree in Computer Vision from UK’s Kingston University (KU) in 2013 and B.Eng. and M.Eng degrees in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU), in 2005 and 2008 respectively. Over the past decade, I have carried out theoretical & applied research in computer vision, image processing, machine learning, pattern recognition and video surveillance. I have published over 10 scientific papers and articles in international conferences and high impact journals. If publications measure my contribution in Science, I am also pleased to share that I have made some in roads, in the computer vision industries, where my team and I have contributed to a number of breakthroughs that automated industrial processes.

Yadanar: Wow, such research expertise is really rare in the context of Myanmar! So among all of your research, which is your most notable one?

Dr Myo: Thanks. As I did not just published papers, but vitally I was involved in projects that made direct contributions to the industry. One of my most memorable projects was the ‘‘Fish Activity Monitoring System’ which my team worked closely with Public Utility Board of Singapore. We researched, designed and implemented a real-time surveillance system which monitors living organisms for the water security of Singapore. This technology has been deployed by the Public Utilities Board of Singapore around the country. For this project, we received the 2008 IES Prestigious Engineering Achievement award from Institution of Engineers, Singapore and the 2012 IWA Applied Research Honour Award from International Water Association.

Yadanar: Thank you Dr Myo. With this achievement and the good life in Singapore, why and when did you come back to Myanmar?

Dr Myo: I have been asked this question many times since I came back. Since the first day I arrived Singapore back in 2001, I have it in my heart, a burning desire to contribute back to Myanmar. With each knowledge and expertise I have acquired, I have never stop to think what and how can the knowledge be applied in the context of Myanmar. For many who have spent more than a decade in Singapore, it was not an easy decision to come back to Myanmar. In fact, I was contemplating about this, when our leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi spoke at a forum to Myanmar professionals in Singapore. Though she did not make any direct appeal for us to come back home, she said this, ‘Myanmar needs young educated people to develop.” That was the time I made up my mind. Not long after her visit to Singapore, I returned to Myanmar at the end of 2013.

Yadanar: This is very inspirational Dr Myo. Please share with us what have you been doing since your return?

Dr Myo: I have changed the orientation of my research work to the applications of my acquired knowledge, know-how and expertise in the context of Myanmar’s human capacity development. This comes in different ways , such as:

i) Sharing of my know-how and R&D expertise with Myanmar’s Technological Universities.
ii) Mentoring, consulting, sharing and providing training to Myanmar youths and industries.
iii) Leveraging on my cross-cultural knowledge in the operationalization of international projects.

Yadanar: What would be your greatest achievement since your return?

Dr Myo: Personally I rather see contributions back to our country as an on-going progress, rather than through the lens of achievements. Having said that, there are bound to have milestones. Perhaps one notable milestone since my return in 2013, was involving in a vocational education training project between the governments of Singapore and Myanmar, known as the Singapore-Myanmar Vocational Training Institute (SMVTI).

Yadanar: Could you share more about the specific role you played in Singapore-Myanmar Vocational Training Institute (SMVTI).

Dr Myo: I was involved in setting up the SMVTI from day one. I was appointed as SMVTI Vice Principal by the Myanmar government, alongside with a Principal from the Singapore government. As this is a joint collaboration project between two governments with different working styles and cultures, there are bound to be challenges to overcome. With my cross-cultural sensitivities and the support from Mission (Singapore) and Department of Technical Vocational Training Education (DTVET, Myanmar), I led a team of 81 local staff to establish successfully the first government vocational education training institute and the institute has been in operation since October 2015.

Yadanar: Could you share with our readers, why did you leave SMVTI?

Dr Myo: I feel that the setting up phase of the SMVTI is over and it is now ready to be continued by another qualified Myanmar civil servant. I would like to travel around our country, contributing my expertise and knowledge, setting up and operationalizing new schools. Also I would like to broaden my operating range from primary, secondary, vocational to higher education. More importantly, I do not consider myself having left SMVTI. I keep in close touch with SMVTI new management team and staff. I aspire to continue helping SMVTI succeed.

Yadanar: But why did you choose to join Shenton Education Group (SEG)?

Dr Myo: SEG provides me with the freedom and flexibility that I need. More importantly, I sense that SEG is a serious private sector contributor to Myanmar’s human capital development. As such I am positive that there are areas where I can continue to contribute effectively to our country and community via SEG’s platforms, such as Temasek International College (TIC) & Shenton Institute of Applied Finance (SIAF).

Yadanar: Thank you for the sharing Dr Myo. On behalf of TIC students, we welcome you into our TIC family!

Dr Myo: The pleasure is mine. Thank you too!