Yvonne Lunsong, Director of Sales, IBS Software, based in Singapore
Hello Yvonne, tell us a bit about your role
My role is to drive sales for Software-as-a-Service solutions (SaaS), primarily in the aviation and energy resources & logistics industries. Broadly, the role involves developing and executing sales strategies to secure new business, nurture existing relationships and expand the IBS footprint in the various geographic markets and business verticals.
What drew you to IBS Software?
I joined IBS Software in 2017 as the first employee based in Singapore. The company already had several well-established airline customers in Asia Pacific; what appealed to me was the challenge of expanding our presence in the region and joining a tech company at a time when the industry was going through a major shift towards digitalisation. I didn't have a tech background but as an end-consumer, I could relate to the benefits of going digital with mobile apps, automation, and personalisation.
I also loved that so many employees I met during the recruitment process had worked for the company for a long time, some for over ten years
And how did it meet your expectations?
That first year was particularly challenging because I was the only employee in Singapore; I had a steep learning curve to understand the SaaS business, but with the support of my colleagues, the journey has been extremely rewarding. They say, "time flies when you're having fun," and it's true! I celebrated my fourth work anniversary in November.
What do you enjoy about your role?
The last few years have been very exciting: building awareness of IBS Software in the region, understanding industry trends, cultivating relationships and expanding our business.
Fast forward to 2022, we now have a growing team in Singapore serving the likes of Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines and Bamboo Airways. It's very motivating to see our customers embrace digitalisation, realise their growth ambitions, and improve speed to market, strengthening their position as the industry recovers from the pandemic.
Congratulations! Any particular highlights?
Expanding our business with Singapore Airlines when they signed for our digital cargo platform in 2020; I'd previously worked there and I have the utmost respect and admiration for the people and company.
Also, working with Bamboo Airways when it was a start-up in 2018, to deploy our passenger service system and loyalty platforms. Seeing the airline's success in such a short time, has brought me great satisfaction and validates my reasons for joining IBS Software.
What were your favourite subjects at school?
I really enjoyed history and geography; I switched from the science stream to the arts in secondary school. Looking back, it's interesting how my career path in the aviation industry brought me to IBS Software without a traditional science and technology background.
How did you get started in this field?
I studied economics at university; my first job was as a research analyst for a non-profit company, focusing on energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. One day, my Mom saw an ad in the newspaper for the Singapore Airlines Management Trainee Program and suggested I apply. I had no prior knowledge of the aviation industry but wanted a challenge. I was offered a place and spent several years there, before moving to an airport route development consultancy, and later to a role at IATA (International Air Transport Association).
So, you could say, I stumbled into aviation. It's an industry I truly love and I get to learn every day.
Tell us what inspires you in your career
Over the years, I've been fortunate to have worked with talented people and I've learnt a lot, just by being around them: seeing how they interact and think, is fascinating. Most of my colleagues have a tech background; it's inspiring to hear them speak passionately about their subject matter and to witness their genuine desire to help our customers.
Books are also a great source of inspiration. I recently read A Woman Makes a Plan by Maye Musk, the mother of Elon Musk. She shares her experiences of growing up, raising a family on her own, and moving to different countries. There's advice on family, adventure and ageing well. She's hugely accomplished in her own right and raised three brilliant children despite many challenges. I love her career tips for women: never be shy to ask for what you want, and don't be afraid to push your boundaries.
How have things changed for women in this sector since you started your career?
When I first joined the aviation industry, it was noticeably male-dominated, especially in management. The same goes for the technology sector. Today, it's encouraging to see many women at meetings and conferences, thriving in leadership roles.
This seems to be backed up by a Boston Consulting Group and Singapore's Infocomm Media Development Authority study, which found that women in Southeast Asia are participating more in technology compared to global averages1. This is great news.
How do you encourage other women in your field and beyond?
When I worked at IATA, I was part of the Women in Leadership Committee to encourage female empowerment and later MOSAIC, an initiative to promote all-round diversity. Now at IBS Software, we have a platform called Lead(her) where we share our thoughts, experiences and encourage each other.
Tell us about some of the career challenges you've experienced
I took a career break for about three years when I joined my spouse on his overseas posting in Amsterdam. It was a tough decision as I was doing well in my job, and I had always identified myself as a career woman. In the end, I decided that life is too short, and I shouldn't miss out on this opportunity. I knew that I'd be able to jump back into the working world, whereas the chance to live overseas might not come again. Those three years turned out to be the most memorable time of my life! I travelled around Europe, I volunteered and taught English in a local school and took Dutch language classes.
I kept up with industry colleagues so that when I returned to Singapore, I could easily transition back to work. Having a supportive spouse helps tremendously and he has always encouraged me in all that I do.
What career advice would you give to the next generation?
Don't fixate on a particular career path. Sometimes opportunities present themselves and we shouldn't be afraid to take on new challenges. Occasionally, we must step out of our comfort zone to learn and improve ourselves.
My next trip will be…
After visiting my parents in Malaysia, I would love to travel to Europe for a summer holiday. France and Italy are my favourite countries to explore as they offer a combination of culture, history, and culinary delights.
I'm currently reading…
Taste My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci, on his gastronomic journey and cherished family recipes.
At weekends, you will mostly find me…
Checking out new cafés and restaurants. Eating is a national pastime in Singapore.
1. Boosting Women in Technology in Southeast Asia, Boston Consulting Group and Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), October 2020