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MDEC’s Data Scientist William Yap Speaks To Big Community

The Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) could not have had a prouder moment when they finally hired their first official Data Scientist, William Yap. Especially since they are the flag bearers for the country to bringing the skill infrastructure to the masses. No less proud were we to be able to take some time of Williams busy schedule to ask him a few questions and introduce him to our readers.

Team Pineapple

William, (far right of the picture) presenting the mock check to winners of the Uni App Challenge

  1. Being the latest addition to the team at MDEC, what areas will you be focusing on? Will it be a new focus or enhancing the previous approaches.

It is an honour to serve as the first Data Scientist hired by MDEC. As you know, MDEC is spearheading the movement to encourage and increase Big Data Analytics adoption across all sectors in Malaysia. This involves a well-rounded variety of initiatives, which ranges from talent development to enabling strategic partnerships.

My role is to be a subject matter expert in Data Science technical matters. With my years of experience working within the data industry, I am able to support the execution of our many projects.


  1. MDEC have been very supportive of hackathons in Malaysia over the past few years. Even setting the stage for the Big App Challenge series. In your opinion, how effective have these initiatives been in bringing Big Data to the masses.

Hackathons are the best way to engage with the top tech talent in Malaysia. Coding is an art form and the great programmers have a sincere passion for their craft. Hackathon participants are people who willingly spend their free time towards building something from scratch and handling all the work, effort and stress that comes with it. Hackathons are also a great place for like-minded individuals to come together, to learn from each other and to create innovative developments together.

The Big App Challenge is a platform for the nation’s brightest application developers to come together and tap into the power of Big Data to create commercially viable solutions to solve socio-economic problems.

The reason why we organise the Big App Challenge is to introduce the power of Big Data to many individuals who have the right skill-set and mind-set to play a major role in our Data Economy. It also creates a lot of awareness to the major industry leaders about how Big Data can help solve their organisations’ problems.


  1. What areas need further or can be improved in those initiatives?

Our initiatives are based on the MDEC Big Data Analytics (BDA) Framework which has the end goal of making Malaysia the leading regional BDA solutions hub by the year 2020.  This framework serves as a well-structured roadmap for our team. At the moment, our main priority is talent development because technology is nothing without the talent. We are also creating awareness among the industries through developing successful use cases. This is so that there will be suitable demand generated for our newly trained Data Professionals.

Once we have a more established ecosystem, our next focus as per our framework would be on developing game changing innovation. This would be further supported by our ongoing open data and strategic partnerships initiatives.


  1. In achieving the targets set by the government to deliver talents towards implementing data analytics nation-wide, how close are you to achieving them?

We have a target of 20,000 data professionals by the year 2020, out of which 2,000 will be data scientists. To achieve this target, we have many on-going talent developments projects for both university students and working professionals. At this moment in time, we are on track to achieve our target.

For example, we have recently helped some local universities come up with their first ever Data Science courses. We have also formed many strategic partnerships with world renowned Data Science education institutions such as Coursera, Harvard Business School and Cornell University’s The Data Incubator. These strategic partnerships are often the first of their kind outside their country of origin. They are big wins for Malaysia and strengthens our reputation as a leading hub for Data Science.

This year is building up to be an eventful year for MDEC and the team. From the launching of the ADAX to having many more hackathons to promote and invigilate, William as the incumbent, should be more than well met by everyone in the team. We too look forward to all that is in the pipeline and wish William and his new family all the best in his exciting future with MDEC.