Balancing high profile projects and dreams of being a mother

3 April 2024

“It was 2023, and we were just days away from the first dress rehearsal for a key project and I was… well to put it simply… panicking. It was my first time working on a project of this magnitude.

This was the migration and integration of Citi’s tech systems with ours, following DBS’ acquisition of Citi’s consumer banking business in Taiwan. And during the integration, we would have less than 48 hours to make sure everything was completed smoothly.

I was tasked to coordinate the runbook – a guide that laid out the sequence of events with details of all the tasks required, minute-by-minute, to be carried out by about 500 of my colleagues across multiple teams and locations.

It felt like a mammoth effort, to say the least. The excel document had over 6,000 rows of tasks to be completed, and contingency plans for any delays.

I will forever be grateful for my teammates who sat down with me to patiently go through each row, determining key milestones to create a comprehensive and robust plan.

Of course, as expected by the team, we ended up learning a lot more from the first rehearsal, which we applied to the next rehearsal.

With each rehearsal, we got quicker and more confident. By the actual integration weekend on 12 and 13 August 2023, with four rehearsals under our belt, we managed to complete all the required tasks successfully hours ahead of time!

The year of planning was no easy feat – and the team had gotten extremely close after working on this project together.

Naturally, I felt a little sad when the project ended, but I was looking forward to returning to regular hours, and getting back on track for my other personal goal – being a mother.

My dream had been to have my first child at 25 – the same age my mum was when she had my oldest sister. My siblings and I have always been really close to her growing up, probably because of the small age gap – something I hoped to emulate with my own child.

When I was tasked to work on the bank’s resiliency initiatives after the integration project, I was in two minds – I felt extremely honoured and fulfilled to be involved in two high priority projects back-to-back, but I was worried about what that meant on the baby front.

In this new role as a project manager, I follow up on tasks and appoint teams to work on them. Occasionally, I work overnight on weekends, for instance, during a scheduled maintenance. We are there to support, manage resources, and ensure things run smoothly.

Every day is extremely different, and it’s been exciting to dip my toes into everything.

And while I give my 100% at work, I’m also prioritising family when I’m off work. My husband and I will always have dinner together, no matter how late I’m home (He cooks, I wash the dishes!) We take exercise and baking classes together, over the weekends.

Recently, we received the much-anticipated news. We’ll be welcoming our first child – a boy – in September!

My boss and team were one of the first people I broke the news to, and they’ve been nothing but supportive.

The icing on the cake? The age gap between me and my baby will be 30 years, just like my mum and I.”

- Karen Tho, Technology & Operations, Future Ready Function