Bryan Chua, a Senior Solutions Architect at Microsoft in Singapore, talks about his family, his views on technology and parenting, and the values he and his wife want to teach their children. Bryan believes in exposing his children to technology and educating them on its benefits, but also setting boundaries and limits on usage. He emphasizes the importance of caring for others and sharing as values he and his wife want to teach their children. This conversation also touches on AI, its impact on the future of work and creativity and provides valuable advice for parents looking to balance their career and family goals.
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Thanks for listening to the Parents in Tech podcast with me, your host, Qin En. We hope you were inspired on how to raise kids and build companies. To catch up on earlier episodes or stay updated with upcoming ones, head over to www. to join our community of parents in tech. There, you can also drop me a question, idea, feedback or suggestion. See you next time!
[00:00:45] Brian talks about his family, including his wife and two young boys.
[00:12:44] Balancing Work and Family. Brian shares how he balances his work as a tech leader at Microsoft and being a father of two young kids, including his learning time on weekends and building POCs.
[00:21:12] Brian shares how he tries to be his best self in front of his children and lead by example as a role model.
Qin En 00:00
Hi, I am Qin Enin En and this is the Parent In Tech Podcast. In this special collaboration series with Microsoft, I speak with Microsoft leaders on the parent-career connection, how they balance career and family goals and make it all work. In this episode, I speak with Bryan, Senior Solutions Architect in Singapore. Bryan is dad to two young boys, each one and three.
Qin En 00:36
Hey Bryan, thank you so much for joining us on the Parents In Tech show. Very excited to have you on today. To begin with, could you tell me a bit more about your family?
So my wife and I, we met while working, and then we kind of got married like a few years back, three, four years back. And then, so we are a family of four, so I have two boys, one and three. So yeah, they're both now in childcare.
Qin En 01:03
Awesome. Got it. Got it. So you know, with your three year old, I'm really keen because that they are starting to learn, starting to build a vocabulary. I think this is very much the same also for my daughter who is two and a half years old. So I'm curious, how do you explain Microsoft to your three-year-old?
This one is also every day the answer is a bit slightly different. So he'll come to me and say, "Hey Papa, why are you working? Why are you working?" So I will actually explain to him, "Hey, Bryanaba is actually working in a technology company. I have to work in front on a laptop so I can't go anywhere." So to him, a laptop is work. So that's how I explain to him what Microsoft is.
Qin En 01:46
Got it. Got it. And you know, it's very interesting because you have built quite a solid and established career in technology. So I'm curious, what is your view of technology and parenting? You know, there's a lot of topics and a lot of discussions on how screens and mobile devices may or may not be good for children and their childhood. I'd love to hear what's your take on that?
I think for us, we tend to let our children be exposed to all this technology. For example, we do have like the Google homes in sitting around the house that turn on and off. We also have some tablets. So I think educating them all these technologies, all these tools, and in earlier it will help them because they'll understand that it's a tool. And of course for iPads, entertainment. So I think a lot of this thing we have to set like a boundary and a limit. So for example, it's like, "Oh, no iPad after nine o'clock," or, and then, "iPad can only be used for one hour and can only be used at night after school." So a lot of this boundary, we have to slowly added in because in the very beginning, they kind of don't understand it as well. So they keep snatching it, especially now when you have two, I mean, after year two now they'll start snatching, right? They don't understand the of sharing as well. So yeah. So we have to slowly educate them of all these rules slowly one by one.
Qin En 03:17
Okay. Bryan, it's not like a more [inaudible] where you say no devices, no technology at all? So I'm curious about how you think about technology and the role you wanted to play in their childhood. Bryanecause I mean, I guess when we grew up, it was still very much PCs, laptops. Actually much later on. Bryanut nowadays, like you said, mobile phone, iPad and everything. So I'm curious about what do you think the role of this technology is for them as they grow up?
I think, I don't really want to say no to them because I think, if you box them up too early on, they are imagination, they're created will be up very quickly. So for me, I tend to be a bit long wind, so I explain a lot of why, so why you cannot use iPad for one more one hour or because your eyes where [not seen], you start to wear glasses you know, those glasses, you know, never wear glasses, right? So a lot of these things we have to slowly introduce to them and explain to them the tools that they are using, right? Some of this is entertainment. Yes, some of this for learning. So I remember like I put on my iPad, but in front of... it's a blank notes, it's an iPad notes, right? So what are we going write today? What are we gonna learn today? So I draw letter A and then they'll be like, "Oh, this one can be drawn." So it's like you slowly introduce them all this technology and they'll understand the benefit slow later on.
Qin En 04:46
Got it. Definitely. And I think that's certainly is a very interesting journey that they're going on, even as technology is changing very quickly, right?
Qin En 04:55
A big part of you working in tech is really about removing friction and enabling access for others. I'm curious about how that experience has shaped you as a parent.
One learning I got from my son, my elder one is that one time I was trying to teach him how to draw a circle. I mean, I'm quite sure your children will do something. They'll pick a marker, they'll just anyhow draw, right? So they'll like left, right, left, right, left, right. Bryan what I was trying to teach him is where is the shape, right? So as I try to teach him, he's still going back to enjoying your left, right up down and stuff like that, but not the shape. So I think I got really, uh, because of sleep and stuff like that. So I got a little bit loud, so agitated. So I think while I try to teach my son how to draw a square, he actually got upset, right? So, and then he put on the marker and say, "Papa, I don't wanna draw anymore." So I think one thing I learned from this is that I have good intention while teaching them the skill that they need to do. Sometimes, being too pushy or rushing to have the result will have a negative impact.
Qin En 06:07
Got it. Thanks a lot for sharing that. And it's true, right? I think there's this desire for us to sometimes just make it seamless and get to the end goal, but that not necessarily always carries through. Bryan. Thanks for sharing that. That's a very interesting story and definitely one that we all control lessons from. When did you and your wife talk about having children? Right? What was the plan like?
I think the plan is really like we settle it down and we try to enjoy it as much as possible. We never really state what is our timeline that we really never set a timeline to do like parenting, but more on understanding what values we are trying to give to teach our children. Like how are they going to grow up? What kind of person are they? So we spend a lot of time in the second question actually, not like when we have kids, it's more like where we have kids, what kind of values we wanna teach them and
Qin En 07:03
Okay. What are some of the values, sorry to interrupt, but what are some of the values outta curiosity that you and your wife have discussed?
So one of the values is really caring for each other. So I think the elder one would tend to always younger one. So it's like they'll walk around when the younger walk, you know, accidentally bump to him. You actually explain to them, explain to him and say, "Hey, this is the [inaudible], you know, you must make sure that you are, you are taking care of the people around you, or your me, mama. You gonna take care of papa healthy people. Then the other value is really like sharing. So it's like I will always like join in a question like, "Oh, you have a chocolate now, so do you want to share, I wanna share with your friends," you know, sharing is caring, right? So a lot of these things might not be intuitive to them, it's like, "Oh, this is my wife, [inaudible]. Some of these things like, oh, you must share because you wanna share the joy, right? Want everyone else to be happy around you. So you must break things into very simple format in the simple terms. You understand what I mean? So they're very naive. They're very innocent. They want to listen from you also, which is a good thing. So, yeah. So that's what I say by, you know, the values, what value? Like for some of the, no, my wife is saying, no, it's dangerous. ah, dangerous there. Bryanut for daddy's always like, "Oh, you should focus. Look up, don't look down." Like sometimes I also, we scared they come of the playground. I was like, "Okay, only look up. You can't look down." Daddy is also very scared. You don't look up. Focus, right? Yeah.
Qin En 08:44
Yeah. So very much focusing on the positives, focusing on... you going through and doing things together with them. I think that that's super interesting. Bryanut I'm also curious, right? A big part of kids, especially mine, if anything, it's they don't always listen.So I'm curious about what's your thoughts around disciplining, especially when perhaps they do something that perhaps you would not like to encourage, right? So for example, things like not sharing things. Yeah. What was your take around that? When they don't listen? Where they get into the terrible twos that they kick up a fuss.
Yeah. They will tend to cry, you know, yell and stuff like that. Bryan, I think is really trying to be patient sometimes just let them bend. Not all, everything, like just cry as much as possible. And sometimes the people avoid that also lower at us. When main thing is, and let him understand, right? Crying doesn't solve anything. So my elder one, luckily for me, he started to understand it. So the more he cries, he knows that don't change the decision, right? So now my younger one, my younger still, I'm sure it's the same for you. So my younger one is like, oh, if he doesn't eat the chocolate, he'll just keep yelling, right? Keep yelling, yelling until you get the chocolate. So for me, just to maintain the high standard, keep the bar high, even my elder one look at me like, okay, daddy, actually, even if you cry, you yell, it doesn't matter, right? It's just following... keeping the bar.
Qin En 10:13
Definitely. I think it's the idea of explaining, kind of bringing them through their journey, helping them to understand being patient all right sometimes.
Yes. Bryaneing patient.
Qin En 10:22
I think that's something that you explain--
Like for example, my elder one like the brush teeth, right? Me and my wife, we were thinking about different strategies. How do we make him brush teeth right in the morning, at night. And the one thing is really making it super accessible for him. So we bought a very small basin. I'm quite sure you also do the same thing. Small basin. Yeah, high level. And then we just put a mirror in front, so make it super accessible for him that say, hey, there's no excuse, right? You say that you scared of the letter, you scared of, you know, it's too high for you and stuff like that. Then you do it together with them. I think the other thing is also be patient. So I think first time, second time, I mean, I've been through the startup phase. Rejection is very common. So let's keep saying like, get go, keep, keep going, keep trying, keep going, keep on going. So until one day he will just suddenly, okay, without meaning that he'll just go and brush teeth. Hopefully, same in this space.
Qin En 11:16
That's awesome. And you know, as you talk about that, about almost like removing frictions, removing barriers.
Qin En 11:22
And that's also not too different from what you do professionally at work, right? So it's too, maybe tell me a bit more about... tell me a bit more about how working at tech as a tech leader has impacted you being a parent or vice versa, right? I'm sure there's a lot of a crisscross, a lot of learning. Like what was something that, I guess principles or things that you carry across either role?
Mm. I think technology is really like very evolving very quickly over the last few years especially. So especially things like the course of hybrid working also is not very common. Bryanut since the pandemic and until now, I kind of work from home like half the time and yeah, half time we'll be working in office, but mainly just to connect with my colleague and also to connect with people meeting and stuff like that. Bryanut when you start thinking about technology as in inside a tool, so we actually use it properly and to make it like improve your productivity and yeah, discounting. Yeah.
Qin En 12:23
Yeah, definitely. I think that's, that's a lot of that. So I'm curious from kind of your entrepreneurial journey to now working at Microsoft. Also, of course, that's always the challenge of tech moving so fast and being able to keep up with all the changes, all that's happening. And then of course, that's your role of a father of two young kids, tell me a bit more about what that balance looks like.
The balance is no balance, so to be honest. So I think I always join my colleagues and friends that when after six, I try to be at home. And of course sometimes, you know, I'll be in traffic and meeting overnight and stuff like that. After six, I try to be at home many also to pick up my son from school, it's not having penalties. The childcare and the other part is really the time I have, right? So after I put them to sleep, 9 or 10, 10 o'clock to 12 o'clock to 1:00, that's the productivity time. So that's the time I'm also picking up, not saying new skills, but really trying to pick up the technology, right? So a lot of... I think in the recent few months, especially like all the openAI, all the, you know, this kind of generativity, I think it's really a lot of things that's changing every single month, every single day as well. So Saturday, Sunday, Sunday, Sunday is more like, although people like family time, right? For me it's like my learning time. So I spend a lot of time on my iPad just to make sure that the newsletter I'm going through, you know, I subscribe to a lot of newsletter to keep me keep myself updated, and then if they sleep early in the afternoon, I will have some time to build POC, uh, like Pro Concept. So while you understand those technologies and all these new tools and libraries and stuff like that, it will benefit greatly if you know how to use it. So I really build some something myself being more practical. I'm more practical, more than the world.
Qin En 14:13
Especially when you talk to customers, customers that always very difficult, but I was like saying, but I build it over one weekend, so it's not so difficult to see. So it's a way for you to be confident as well when you talk to customer, because sometimes all these tools have to be too overwhelming for a lot of people, right? So like, oh, how do I use this? How do I make sure that I'm using correctly? How do I deploy these skills security thing as well? So a lot of this question get thrown back, but at the end of the day is really like, have we tried, it's actually very easy know how the tools nowadays are getting more and more easier to use, but also getting definitely getting more, more scarier, I guess. They are a lot more capable now.
Qin En 14:53
Yeah. So I also, what a take the divergence as you also kind of mention it. I know this is kind of off script, but let's talk a bit about AI, right? And the impact of also your view of it as firstly, I guess a technology leader, but more importantly what that means for children, right? I think recently there's quite a lot of media, a lot of news about how AI is gonna replace a lot of things. Well, I think they took a couple of those standardized tests. And they kind of passed it or did really well for some, but I guess, not all. Some people say the art of writing, the art of even designing, creating is sort of really gonna be replaced by AI. Curious to hear some of your thoughts around where you stand on that, especially in relation to you being a father.
You know, I have a very extensive discussion about this with my wife as consult.
Qin En 15:38
Awesome. Let's hear some of it.
So I think it is very important to know what AI can do, right? AI is really trying to mimic a lot of human experience, right? So the way we talk, the way we draw, the way we see things, that's beautiful, right? So this actually still human create. So we created it. So a lot of the things that AI cannot really replace is the experience we are having is the creativity is the concept of like your inspiration, your new ideas, right? So a lot of businesses depends on people like us, like a problem solver. You know, we need to go out, we go go see the problem and try to solve the things. If AI never seen it before, that means the internet haven't seen it before. The AI will not know. So my wife and I were also very worried on the education system that how they can embrace AI and you know, how are these things that, if the children don't get exposed to AI earlier on, these are tools, right? The tools actually works for you. So you don't know how to use these tools, you'll be more disadvantage as they grow up without all, all these tools. So a lot of kids, I saw them online stuff like that. They use AI, they use chatGPT to go learning, right? They learn new skill using chatGPT. So I think of course a lot of things have to change and this is just like first few months of new technology and stuff like that. Yeah. So we will just see and get excited about new thing, the next AI the next stage, the next hype. Yeah.
Qin En 17:08
Definitely. Definitely. And I'm curious, right? Are you thinking about using any AI or perhaps zoom out a bit technology to help you and enable you as a parent? Of course, other than the part for entertainment, which all of our kids love. Curious to hear about the... just in terms of any, have there been any technology, any tools that has just been super helpful to increase your productivity or enhance the parenthood experience
Tool side? The co-pilot, I think I do a lot of POC, but without the Github co-pilot. So co-pilot is like, is a way to generate a code. And of course you generate a code in a way that you as an expert, you should be able to know whether the code is doing the right thing or the wrong thing. Same thing as how the AI model is trained. It's just looking at the existing code in the internet and then generate a bunch of things based on, based on what you say that you're gonna do, right? So a lot of this tools is like the co-pilot and then chatGPT is also another one. So let's say if I want to research like, oh, if my son is coughing and stuff, and so I was just tell the sometimes that, hey, what happens when the kid cough too much and start vomiting things and stuff. So I will start to interact with all these like models and see what kind of respond they are giving me versus the what I can find online. So think of all these tools that can save as well. So with the stuff that you get quicker access to the information.
Qin En 18:31
Definitely. And I think it's gonna be interesting, right? As we see more of these technology tools come around, I think there's always almost a love, hate, bittersweet kind of relationship between some of these tools. So I guess in terms of like, let's say, you know, are there particular technologies that you are most excited about or you think that will impact your children the most as they grow up, right? We spoke about AI as one of them, but are there any particular other technologies or things that you're looking out for that could potentially change the way we work, change the way we live?
Hmm. I think while we are talking, while we are still talking about like generative AI and stuff like that, I think one very important thing that I think a lot of people never look at and start and think about it is whether, how do you regulate all this AI, right? So to make sure that they're doing the right thing, they are not doing the wrong thing. Like let's say you given try to create some malicious thing and stuff like that. So one thing I'm quite excited about is really the concept of a responsible AI. I'm not sure whether you heard about this, but it's whether how you regulate this AI. So I think the part that will come next is how do you tell whether the image is generated by AI or not? There must be some way to detect them. So I think that there must be the next wave. And then the other part is really how our system, our human know, the society, our system can embrace this kind of AI to make sure that this all put in welling checks. Yeah,
Qin En 20:01
Yeah, yeah. The gut will to protect the guard. Bryan because I think right now it's quite open. I saw some quite scary things online or what AI can do because there's really no boundaries right now, right?
Qin En 20:12
Yeah. Thanks a lot for sharing that. I think it is very interesting to always hear for someone who's at the forefront of this technology, perhaps back to fatherhood, right? And as a father of two young children, I'm curious, what makes you feel inspired to be your best self as a father?
I try to be by being best self in front of my kids all the time. I'm sure you are as well. So they will look up to you as a role model. They will also like follow you, keep out the standard. You know, we are, for example, to be on time, right? We need to go school at nine, we prepare at eight, right? So Israel is the mentality kind thing, and my motivation is, of course is the children. And if they see me sitting on a sofa, slacking, sleeping, not do any work and stuff like that's not a good role model, right? So I think they always ask like why you need to work?” You know, why you need to work like so long is that, oh, now I saying that, "Oh, but I need to work because I need to keep myself up to date," right? So a lot of this work needs... you need to keep on learning, then she will be questioning, "Oh, but what are you learning?" I like to question like, what is Microsoft. Is that, oh, I'm learning how all this new tool, right? All these point to the laptop mouse and stuff like that. So all these tools like know all these are the hardware, this software, how this thing comes together and stuff like that. So I think it's quite hard like with all this hybrid working and stuff like that when the children's at home and you are still working, and of course to pull up the best self is, I always think of them. So just to make sure that I keep the bar super high,
Qin En 21:50
I love that really leading by role model, leading by example. I think that's something that stands out quite clearly. And I think that's something that would certainly be appreciated from your children. Look Bryan, I know you've already been a parent for three years, but could be seen as a short time, could be seen as a long time.
Same as you, right?
Qin En 22:08
Same for me, same reason for me. If you could turn back time to when you first became a dad, what would you tell him?
Okay, so if I would to turn back time and the advice I will give myself is really to embrace the challenges and don't overthink. So as much as we want to prepare and stuff like that, we can never prepare for all the different challenges. So for example, it's like because of COVID, you know, both of my children got [DNE]. And it's difficult because my wife that time just recovered from the [inaudible] and stuff like that, right? So I think to be there all the time, to be with them all the time. And the good thing about hybrid working and stuff like that is that you no need to be office all the time. And my colleague, my colleague is also very, very supportive and everyone is, he just knows that what's going on. So I think enjoy the moment, embrace the challenge. Your wife is your best co-pilot. I always say that.
Qin En 23:12
And then the last one will be give the young one time to learn and also yourself to unlearn the things. So a lot of things are very obvious to us, you know? But it's not so obvious to them. For example, I think the first thing I try to teach my son during the COVID is put on the mask. So it's very natural for us, right? Bryanut for him it does, "Oh, how do I... how do I put it in," you know, you have to teach him. I teach him like 15 times, like every time we go out, we have to put in and stuff like that. So now it's like to him just secondly join. So yeah. Give him time to learn and to be patient. Yeah.
Qin En 23:52
Got it. Got it. Now, this has been a really insightful conversation, Bryan. And thank you so much for just opening up and being so honest and candid with your conversations. I'm sure some of our listeners want to connect with you. How can they best do so?
Oh, they can find me at LinkedIn. So I'm very... I'm reachable at that. And I also my email, so if you have my personal email or Microsoft email, then yeah, let's connect.
Qin En 24:16
Sure. We're including in the show notes. Well, thank you so much, Bryan, for chatting today. Such a joy to have you on the show.
Thank you. Thank you, Qin Enin En.
Qin En 24:28
Thanks for listening to the Parents in Tech podcast with me, your host Qin Enin En. We hope you were inspired on how to raise kids and build companies. To catch up on earlier episodes or stay updated with upcoming ones. Head over to www.parents.fm to join our community of Parents In Tech. There, you can also drop me a question, idea, feedback or suggestion? Once again, the website it's www.parents.fm. That's all for this episode, folks. See you next time.