Yuan Qing has been in honestbee since June 2015. His passion for building things began with his first Lego set and has continued and grown in his work in honestbee as a Product Designer.
When did you join honestbee and can you describe the experience in the early days?
I joined honestbee on 29 June 2015, which is over two years now. I’m practically a dinosaur! I took on a bit of a dual role of product designer and software engineer as I had studied computer science in school. Over time, the role has evolved more towards design.
I was hired by co-founder Jonathan Low and the previous VP of Design. It was my first job, fresh out of NUS Computer Science. I had a friend working here as an engineer in a contract role, and while I was looking at all sorts of companies, my preference was to work in a start-up because I felt the job’s impact would be a lot bigger. Being in a big company, I would just be a small cog in a big machine, but working in a small start-up, I felt that I would have more say in the design of the product.
The early days were very inspiring, the team was very energetic and passionate. I was really inspired by Jonathan and Isaac who were (and continue to be) so hardworking and driven to succeed.
How would you describe honestbee now?
If I had to describe honestbee in one word… I’d say “crazy”. Growing from one city to eight cities in two years is crazy and having 10x headcount increase is crazy! In the early days, I knew everyone by name but with such huge growth, I can’t say I know everyone anymore.
Life at honestbee is ever-changing – I’m always doing something new. Even now, I’m working on an exciting new project. Change is a constant and I believe that doing things outside of your comfort zone is really the only way to learn. The moment you’re too comfortable, you stop learning.
What do you like most about honestbee?
What I like most about honestbee is the people. There are a lot of people in the company that I admire for their drive and hardworking natures. For example, Zhenrong Chua (Director of Groceries) – He’s so focused, dedicated and smart. I can learn so much from him even just by chatting with him. We got to know each other during the development phase to launch the Laundry vertical. We had to launch within a month with just a team of five, so this experience really bonded us.
What do you do for fun?
When I’m not at work, I try to spend as much time with my family and friends as possible. I used to come back to work over the weekends but nowadays I try to ensure there’s some separation between me and the job. When I’m free, I do regular Singaporean activities like go out to eat and watch movies. Nothing really exciting to be honest. I’m not exactly a sporty person, but I do try to run every Sunday with my army buddies.
I would say I’m a foodie, so I try to find good food. My favourite food is either Japanese or steak. For affordable but good Japanese cuisine, I usually go to Sushi Goshin, which has quite a few outlets in town. My regular steak joint is near my home and is called Chop House. It’s run by the same restauranteurs who own Wooloomooloo Steakhouse, but it is more affordable.
What is your fondest childhood memory?
My fondest childhood memory is the day I received my first Lego set. I can still vividly picture it in my head. I must have been about four years old and it was a normal day, no special occasion. I was seated on the floor, near my sofa, and my parents returned home and gave me this basic Lego building block set, which I immediately started playing with. I no longer collect Lego, but I think it inspired my love for building things. This is probably why I got into software engineering. I still love building things – Last year, I made a sculpture for a friend since I had some old blocks lying around at home.
If you were not a Product Designer, what do you think you’d be doing?
I do think about this from time to time. I was in architecture school for a semester when I was in university and at the time, I felt that the course wasn’t suitable for me because I didn’t think I had the skillset to be an architect. Furthermore, the timescale for architectural project developments is much longer than most other jobs, so the satisfaction of seeing a project fulfilled would come much later. Perhaps if I wasn’t in product design, I may have been an architect, or fall back on being a software engineer since that’s what I ended up studying anyway. But if I could have a dream job of anything in this world, could I say “Philanthropist”?
Who do you admire?
The person that’s top of mind for me now is Jack Ma (Founder of Alibaba), for what he’s done in China with the whole ecosystem over there. It’s crazy to me that he had no formal education in business or technology when he started out. He succeeded by having incredible foresight, corralling a team together, and trying and failing and trying till he succeeded. In the Design domain, I count among my heroes the graphic designer Massimo Vignelli — the way he approaches the work with a kind of discipline, rigor, and craftsmanship is something that all designers should aspire to.
What are you grateful for?
I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had, that I’ve been able to come to honestbee to work. I’m also grateful for the opportunities I’ve had in my life because I had financial support from my family. Not many people are so lucky to have such support. I’m also glad for the faith that people put in me to do the job.