City Manager Spotlight: Alya Didier
Juan blew us away in our first City Manager Spotlight, and we’re excited to keep the series going! Next up is Alya Didier, Sage Corps City Manager in Singapore.
She has an amazing story and some really interesting insights into the startup scene in Singapore. Better yet, she’s an entrepreneur herself!
Keep reading — you don’t want to miss this!
Tell us a little about yourself - where are you from? Where did you go to school? What are your interests?
"I am half Jordanian and half American. I went to school in Washington, DC; I obtained my Bachelor’s degree at George Washington University and my Master’s at Georgetown University. I love exploring new restaurants, dancing, and traveling."
What are you currently doing? (Where do you work and what do you do?)
"I currently work in Singapore at International SOS as a business process analyst where I help identify gaps in our internal processes to better streamline to ensure efficiency."
How did you first become interested in the startup industry? Why do you find it so interesting?
"I started finding myself interested in the startup scene because I was looking for a different kind of energy. Working in a corporate environment, as I do now, can be mundane at times. I desired interacting with people who challenge the status quo. Instead of being problem-focused, startups provide solutions through design thinking where they are action oriented towards creating a preferred future. That kind of mindset excites me."
What about the startup industry in Singapore do you find unique and exciting?
"The startup industry in Singapore is really unique because it is a relatively recent phenomenon and it has a great deal of funding! There are many individuals ready to invest in the startup scene. But, talent is hard to find, which makes it all the more worthwhile for students to come out and explore the scene in Singapore."
What interested you in the City Manager position? Why did you decide to apply?
"I really believe in building a global professional network, which is why I wanted to be a part of helping others do the same. As a foreigner working in Singapore, I know what it is like to try and find your bearings in a new city on a personal and professional level, and I was excited to be a part of a program that encourages students to do that."
What has been the most rewarding aspect of your experience as a City Manager?
"Getting to know the fellows over the summer was the best part of this experience. I was just so impressed by their ambition and passion for making a difference."
In your experience, in what ways has the culture of Singapore had a positive influence on Sage Corps fellows? How does this enrich their experience as interns?
"Singapore is extremely safe and easy to navigate. Although that doesn’t sound like something exciting, it actually makes a huge difference to someone who is visiting a brand new country for a short period of time and trying to make the most of his or her experience. The peace of mind that comes from living in a place where you don’t have to worry about safety or how to get around allows fellows to feel comfortable exploring. It also helps them feel more confident at work."
What was your favorite event with the cohort this summer?
"One of my favorite events with the cohort this summer was our exclusive round table session with Johannes Polstra, one of the founders of the vision strategy and storytelling startup VSStory. This event was at a cool new co-working space in Singapore called Collision 8. At the event, Johannes shared his experiences with failed and successful startups and discussed Singapore’s unique startup ecosystem."
What is one piece of advice you would give to prospective fellows?
"Don’t be shy to network outside of the cohort. It is really easy to stay in the comfort of the cohort, which is great, but interning overseas provides unique opportunities that you need to take advantage of."
Do you think your time as a City Manager has impacted your future career path in any way or given you insights into your own career? If so, how?
"Being a City Manager helped me branch out further in the startup space and has given me the push I needed to register a company of my own called Bayt Alya. It is an ecommerce retail company selling traditional embroidered clothes from Jordan to Singapore."
We are so happy to have Alya as a part of our team. Our Singapore fellows are lucky to have her as a mentor.
Thank you Alya, for all you do for the Sage Corps community!