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2020: Year in Review

Broken, extraordinary and turbulent. A world in distress. What’s next for 2021?

2020 is an extraordinary year for many and it is one for the history books. As with traditions, it is the time to reflect on what has been done and what can be done better the following year(s).

A global pandemic: Novel coronavirus (COVID-19)

2020 was off to a roller-coaster start. Whoever lived through the events this year is something that will never forget. The world got off the start of a new decade in massive chaos as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) spread throughout the entire planet. This changed the way people live for the year. Flights were cancelled, places where huge gatherings were disallowed and social distancing (where people were to keep a distance of up to 2m among one another) was introduced.

Photo by Edwin Hooper on Unsplash

A breakdown of the virus as we ended the year (31st Dec 2020):

Total infections: 83.1M

Total deaths: 1.8M

Total recovered: 58.9M

Source: COVID-19 Virus Pandemic — Worldometer

Personal development

Overcoming the Impostor Syndrome

For the curious, the following Wikipedia article will give you an idea of what an imposter syndrome is.

Impostor syndrome - Wikipedia

Writing articles and expressing my thoughts in words has always been a nemesis for me. This year, I managed to improve in this area and learn to express myself more. Given the opportunities at work, I volunteered to be the Scrum Master. I have also volunteered to take up sprint reviews and gave presentations to the business stakeholders. This helped me in improving my public speaking skills. As time passed, and being more involved in the business aspect of my Agile squad despite being a Software Engineer, I got inspired and decided to pursue an aspiring functional role in the future. I believe that the world in 2020 gave the opportunity to marry business and technology even better.


Non-credit courses

There could be no better time to up-skill as social life has taken a hit due to the coronavirus pandemic. With the situation forcing people to stay at home, I am very happy to have enrolled in the Financial Markets by Yale University on Coursera. Despite it being a non-credit course, it was good learning about the financial markets, mortgages, fixed income (bonds) and more on finance.

Course certificate for Financial Markets by Yale University on Coursera

There are also other courses that I took such as writing better English professionally and learning more about business development and economics.

Certified ScrumMaster

Certified ScrumMaster by Scrum Alliance

Since the introduction of the Agile way of working in 2019 in my then company, I volunteered to be the unofficial Scrum Master for my squad. It was a good and challenging role that allowed me to get experience in leadership professionally. This year, I am happy to announce that I had completed my training and am now a Certified ScrumMaster.

Journey to becoming an author

Looking towards getting rid of my imposter syndrome, I am very pleased to have continued writing throughout the year. It was a major step up compared to the previous years.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

The following are publications I wrote for the year:

  • How did the coronavirus outbreak potentially create an impact on digital transformation in businesses and the way we lived? We now live in a world where communication is heavily dependent on digital media and platforms.

COVID-19: Digital readiness and the impact of Digital Transformation

  • The first-ever negative price in the oil futures contract (WTI). The first entry into the commodities market.

Oil prices turned negative; a first in history

  • The coronavirus pandemic dealt the biggest impact on the aviation industry, and how can the industry plan to recover from the crisis and also move towards using clean energy?

A time to consider using clean energy for flying amidst global aviation shutdown

As someone who was never been great at languages, it was an uplifting experience to be able to practice and improve on it.

A new opportunity

Photo by Kevin Bhagat on Unsplash

December marked the end of my 2.5 years journey with Singtel as a Software Engineer. I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to my friends and colleagues for the time spent working and growing together. It was packed with a lot of learning and an inspiration for me to do better.

With the new opportunity given at my next position, I am looking to pursue new challenges — getting more involved in a functional role rather than a technical one. This, however, does not mean that I would forgo the years of my passion for technology that defined me for a huge part of my life to date.

To change and adapt to changes for the better is hard. There needs to be a mindset change for things to happen. Below is a quote that I really like and resonate with.

I believe that life is a process of continuous change and a constant struggle to make that change for the better. — Lee Kuan Yew

Taking into account that I am still relatively young, I would like to further step out of my comfort zone and explore things which are new and interesting to me. This year alone, I took a great interest in the financial markets, economics, and business development of companies all over the world. Their success stories are an inspiration to follow and take guidance from.

2020 Singapore General Elections

Singapore announced that the 14th General Elections Polling Day is on the 10 Jul 2020 amid the pandemic outbreak as the current leaders look to hand over the leadership to the next generation of leaders by 2021. This came at a time when Singapore saw an improvement in the control of the outbreak domestically and a snap election was called. The results are much expected the same as the previous years with the incumbent securing the supermajority. An exception to the expected result saw the Worker’s Party (WP)in the opposition securing yet another Group Representative Constituency (GRC) in the SengKang GRC. With that, the WP has now secured the second GRC since its first in 2011 with Aljunied GRC. As Singapore moves towards the new leadership, it appeared that the political shift has already happened where its people are ready to put more opposition in the parliament.

US Presidential Election 2020

There is no election more watched than the US Presidential Election. The world is watching. This was by far the most controversial Presidential Election ever recorded in history. First, let’s introduce the candidates.

  • Donald J. Trump (Republican) — Incumbent
  • Joseph R. Biden (Democrat) — Candidate

Both candidates have their history of controversy but only one prevails to be sworn in on the 20th Jan 2021. Presidential debates were a complete mess which candidates bickering over one another and not allowing each other to talk. But it all goes down to the wire on 3rd Nov 2020 as the election results started to unfold.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash


With the swing states proving to be the most crucial battlegrounds, Donald Trump took an early lead in some of them which then swung towards Joe Biden that eventually secured him the victory; taking at least 270 electoral colleges needed to win the election. However, it was not over. Donald Trump decided not to concede the election and challenged a recount in some of the swing states. This also broke a 120-year tradition that a sitting president did not concede to the result.

Final result:

  • Joe Biden — 306
  • Donald Trump — 232

Notable events

There is so much more that happened in 2020 but here are some other significant events that shaped the year.

  • Australia saw its worst bushfires in years in Jan.
  • Iranian General was killed in a drone strike in Iran at the start of the year.
  • Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash on 26th Jan.
  • Brexit finally happened on 1st Feb.
  • Dow plunged almost 3000 points in Mar as it saw the worst drop in a long while. Along with the coronavirus pandemic, Dow plunged a total of ~10,000 points in 2 weeks: from ~29000 to ~19000.
  • Natural disasters cause severe damage in some countries. The U.S. saw one of its worst storms in 100 years.
  • Death of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked ongoing violent protests against police brutality in the U.S.
  • Diego Maradona died from a heart attack on 25th Nov.
  • China’s “Chang’e 5” Lunar Exploration Program (Lunar sample return) from 23rd Nov— 16th Dec
  • 2 major economic collaborations — RCEP and EU-China investment agreement to close the year in Dec.

What’s next for 2021?

This Year in Review series could be the last one since I started the trend in 2018. I missed the 2019 version and returned to write the version this year. It was a rather tough journey to remember and document the events that happened throughout the year and some events could have been missed. For now, let’s set the expectations for the following year.

Firstly, amid the negative outlook due to the coronavirus pandemic, we should take things from a positive view. The future is packed with multiple shifts in the way we work and live. Business is on track for an accelerated digital transformation and a contactless future is set to become the new normal.

Secondly, the utmost priority is to get the pandemic under control, resume normal lives and get the economy going again. It is a certainty that any release of economic data in 2021 should supersede the disastrous records through 2020. Economies are expected to grow after the shrink in 2020.

Last but not least, I wish everyone a healthy year ahead in 2021 and continue fulfilling the resolutions made in 2020 that were disrupted.

Happy New Year!

And… Stay tuned for more in 2021!