Shaping the bank’s first UX Engineering team

Neilson Cheng
UX Engineer
Head shot of Neilson Cheng

How can we get the most from the intersection of Design and Engineering? At DBS, this challenge is made even more worthwhile by the amazing team I work with.

What inspired you to join DBS Group Design?

Challenging the “great divide”. The gap between Design and Engineering is ever present, but in a lean team like where I was from, the effects tend to be less pronounced, so I was very interested to see for myself how a large enterprise team with mature Design and Engineering faculties would attempt to mitigate or overcome this issue. That longing was further fuelled by what I felt was getting stuck in an echo chamber and it is something that I actively try to avoid. I wanted to be part of more conversations and to be challenged more often. At the same time, Front-end Engineering is also experiencing a “great divide” (a term coined by Chris Coyier from CSS Tricks) because its domain has expanded tremendously in recent years and we have engineers with increasingly diverse skill sets and specialisations. Being a design-trained but self-taught engineer, I have deep respect for both disciplines and I wanted to hone the skills most closely associated with designing and engineering for user interfaces and experiences. Lastly, having worked with Design Systems before but in a very contained and limited capacity as an external vendor, I was drawn to the challenge of building for a robust system and seeing the effects it has on the applications within an organisation such as DBS.

What energises you at work?

The opportunity to shape UX Engineering in DBS. My unique position at the intersection between Product Designers and Engineers, and between the Design Standards and Product Design teams, allows me to learn from so many people. As someone who is deeply attracted to competence, there is no shortage within the teams that I’m associated with. I like the regular discourse available, and I feel consistent growth even when I participate as an observer. When it comes to UX Engineering, I feel that because its role is in Group Design, and on a larger scale, in the organisation, it is still in its infancy right now. So being able to shape it is extremely exciting and purposeful. The goals and initiatives we have are worthy, but more importantly the milestones we’ve planned sets us up for small victories along the journey and I think that goes a long way in keeping me energised.

What do you enjoy about being on the team?

Working with a solid team of genuine and intelligent people. In UX Engineering, being able to work with and rely on a capable mentor like Edison just takes some of the edge off the work. I know myself to be fairly impatient and more unstructured in my thoughts, so being able to bounce ideas off someone capable, and just being able to defer to a good role model is such a boon. While I’m a sucker for competence, I definitely feel that a good culture is the number one key to a team’s success. On the larger Group Design team level, the discussions are not cordial for the sake of politeness - I feel genuine sincerity from them. There are no airs between members, I can observe personality, willingness-to-share, and the frankness to learn from people all around. I believe these make my workplace psychological safe and an absolutely joy to work in.

Share a nugget or two about a day in your job?

My day-to-day is quite varied, and usually each task is split over a few days. But I could be planning/developing new features or just upkeeping our Digital Design System. I could also be assisting in the implementation of new initiatives, or working to enhance the UI components library so it stays updated and consistent with our design guidelines.