Sep 6, 2016

Project Management Professional (PMP)

Project Management Professional, better known as PMP® is a professional designation, a global certification, recognized internationally, offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). Its respectability comes from a few factors. The PMP® certification scheme is accredited by ANSI against ISO/IEC 17024. Besides, every certification applicants or holders have a chance of randomly being selected for an audit when they submit their application or filing for professional development units (PDUs), where consequence of non compliance can be disastrous.

Kenneth (my colleague from another divisional plant) and I were interested in gaining this prestigious certification in aid of our career progression (hopefully). Together we have already obtained the Certified Six Sigma Green Belt (CSSGB) and Yellow Belt (CSSYB) from ASQ, kinda like my wingman for certification. It wasn't easy - we weren't project manager, but we've executed and closed some projects during our past endeavors in Cameron. As a degree holder, we're required to file 4,500 hours leading and directing projects. Moreever, 35 hours of project management education is a must before applying to sit for the PMP exam. The cumbersome part comes in when you're planning on clocking the project management hours, on top of having 36 months unique non-overlapping professional project management experience (so at the very minimum, one should have at least 3 years of working experience before even thinking about getting PMP).

Kenneth and I were lucky enough to found a PMP course - Project Management Professional: Prep for PMP on Udemy at S$49 taught by Joseph Phillips, which you can use to file for the 35 hours project management education as they are a PMI Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.), so never have to be worried about PMI's audit on the reputation of this course. I recommend this course if you're someone comfortable with online training, rather than spending thousand of dollars for a PMP course outside. I feel that it provides you enough information (not more) for the real PMP exam.
However, besides Udemy, we actually flipped through the most famous reading material - PMP® Exam Prep by Rita Rita Mulcahy, and realized that there are much more things not covered by Joseph Phillips. And the practice questions are so much harder.

I'll just be open with sharing the information of my application, shown in the table below:

Project Hours
Initiating Planning Executing Controlling Monitoring Closing Total
Heat Insulation
To develop a solution of heat insulation to isolate heat convection from heated item from welder and to insulate heat within the item space when performing welding/cladding operations.
100 150 200 100 50 600
Tool Crib 5S Improvement
To introduce and improve 5S standards to tool crib for systematic management of gauges and better visibility.
150 150 300 100 50 750
Production Listing Generation
To develop solution for better visibility of outstanding production listing for return goods for repair and new build products.
100 150 250 150 50 700
Throughput Report Integration
To integrate local throughput report with relevant to reduce manual data integration of master schedule.
100 150 200 100 50 600
Warehouse Picking Process Cycle Time Reduction
To implement warehouse relocation project (new high racking, reach truck training, line marking) with rack relocation, bin number standardization and semi gantry crane installation.
150 200 600 200 100 1250
Gauge Management Improvement
To improve quality of gauge room related activities.
100 150 400 200 100 950
Total 700 950 1,950 850 400 4,850

As you can see, since I come from a manufacturing background, many of the projects I was involved in are more related to process improvement with lean or six sigma driven methodology. Rather than delivering the typical products or services, my deliverables are more channeled to improved and sustained processes. The one with the heaviest load is none other than the warehouse expansion project as it literally involved building a physical warehouse with installation and relocation of racks, which was also my very first Lean Six Sigma Green Belt project.

One good thing about PMI's exam - you don't have to pay when you submit your online application, you only pay after you received the results of your application - either approved or rejected. And the unusual thing (to me) is that you only know if you're randomly chosen for an audit only right after your payment, NOT right after your application submission. For my case, I didn't get audited.

Like the typical way of exam payment, we registered as a member at US$139 (S$192) and paid the exam fee at US$405 (S$559), and my expenditure for PMP amounted at a nice number of S$192 (membership) + S$559 (exam fee for members) + S$49 (course on Udemy) = S$800.

PMP exam is delivered by Prometric testing centers, which are currently only available at NTUC LearningHub (Bras Basah) and King's Arcade (Bukit Timah) in Singapore. We went for the King's Arcade one as the NTUC LearningHub's calendar was fully booked. The testing center would prefer passport as an identification method because it is one document containing all required information including signature. You'll be asked to empty your pocket to perform a full body scan, signing in and out whenever you enter or leaving the examination room.

A 4-hour 200 questions computer-based exam has never been kind - it was simply mentally exhausting to sit in front of the computer answering questions which might contain more than one correct answers (you just have to pick the best one). And you really don't want to go through so many of the questions over again, because one question appears on one page, more clicks are required when you're reviewing more questions. As such, to a certain point I really wanted to submit my exam, it was around 3+ hours spent, and my pulse was so rapid and hard that everything I feel with my body is merely my heart pumping, even when I tried to remain calm while completing the survey after the exam on the screen. And the screen loaded, and loaded, and loaded... "Congratulations! You passed......", I forgot what came next but "Congratulations!" was the only word that caught my eyes. Seriously, no idea when was the last time I felt so relieved in my life.

As you know, PMI won't provide your exact score, neither will they tell you the passing score, passing is rather scaled and based on relativity, but I would say it's safe to get at least Moderately Proficient for all domains. And my results were as such:

Domain Results
Initiating Moderately Proficient
Planning Moderately Proficient
Executing Moderately Proficient
Closing and Monitoring Proficient
Closing Moderately Proficient

I literally grinned and walked out of the room. 6 Sep 2016 was certainly a celebratory day.

It's actually fortunate to have passed PMP now because in 2017 PMI is releasing the 6th edition of PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge), which might include additional material compared to 5th edition.

The next day I received an email confirming the credential bestowal and saying that the certification package will be delivered to my residential address in 6 - 8 weeks (for international shipping). Additionally I ordered the complimentary PMP lapel pin. They actually took 2 weeks to arrive though.

And I am proud to say that
I'm a PMP®

All this also comes from the Lord Almighty,
whose plan is wonderful,
whose wisdom is magnificent.

- Isaiah 28:29

Jul 17, 2016

Hillsong Young & Free - This Is Living (Cover by Kirsten Wong & Javin Tham)

This is my 3rd Christian song cover with Kirsten. Planning for a cover recording session hasn't been easier as soon as both of us stepped into the working adult stage. Moreover I started my master's degree semester in January 2016, and so I suggested that we record the cover during the NUS vacation period from May onwards.

The song we're doing is This Is Living by Hillsong Young & Free, the original version is EDM style, and we're doing its acoustic version. It's quite cool to see Christian songs evolve into EDM genre (there's even a rapping part).

We were by default under the impression that the cover is to be recorded in Temasek Hall band room as usual, but this time round we were turned down by the in charge of the band room - we're told that they can't lend the band room to non-residents, for the first time we're told so.

And so we're down with other alternatives, trying out Eusoff Hall band room is one of them. Despite that, we're only able to use it in July when orientation started. As it's the first time I'm using the equipment which I'm pretty sure I'll be rather unfamiliar with, we're facing the risk whereby we might be bringing all the props there all set for recording but at the end of the day we're unable to.

I stepped into their band room and I was truly ashamed of our Temasek Hall band room, despite having more instruments than Temasek Hall, they're able to keep their stuff tidier than I thought (partly because their band room is much spacious), and I mean, who has 4 cajóns in a band room? For the cajón quartet?

And if you watch the song cover video, the lighting is purely from the dozen of lamps that they have in the band room. No camera video lighting or ceiling light used (it could have been slightly better as I might have been able to use my video lighting with the diffusing umbrella which I brought, but the light went haywire on that day).

The mixer they're using is Mackie ProFX22v2, and of course I wouldn't have had its driver installed in my laptop as I didn't know what model that is. And the 2-hour-hassle began with me trying to research which driver it uses and how to actually use it (thanks to me being an NUS student again to use its wifi) - it turned out that the mixer doesn't require (or rather incapable) driver installation to be set as an audio hardware, it however doesn't support multitrack recording where all channels from the mixer are exported as one single output signal, but we needed three (Kirsten, me and the keyboard).

What happened next was really some impromptu stunts - we searched around the room and found some audio interfaces. We took one of them (PreSonus AudioBox 22VSL and I managed to download its driver. It only supports two channels and so I had to mouth my singing and do a post recording, yes I mouthed it, but I did sing it out otherwise it would look unnatural and fake, it's the best that we could do out of this misery after going through 2 hours of pathetic trial and error.

On the bright side, we did it, somehow miraculously, thank God for that. Really grateful that Kirsten helped out a lot with setting up, putting the equipment back into place etc. Thanks to the lighting, it's my most satisfactory video setting so far. Hope you enjoy the cover.

Waking up knowing there's a reason
All my dreams come alive
Life is for living with You
I've made my decision

You lift me up, fill my eyes with wonder
Forever young in Your love
This freedom's untainted with You
No moment is wasted

See the sun now bursting through the clouds
Black and white turns to colour all around
All is new, in the Savior I am found

This is living now
This is living now

You take me higher than I've been before
It's Your perfect love that sees me soar
God your freedom is an open door
You are everything I want and more

You lead the way, God You're right beside me
In Your love I'm complete
There's nothing like living with You
This life You created, I choose

See the sun now bursting through the clouds
Black and white turn to color all around
All is new, in the Savior I am found

This is living now
This is living now

You take me higher than I've been before
It's Your perfect love that sees me soar
God your freedom is an open door
You are everything I want and more

See the sun now bursting through the clouds
Black and white turn to color all around
All is new, in the Savior I am found

See the sun now bursting through the clouds
Black and white turn to color all around
All is new, in the Savior I am found

This is living now
This is living now

You take me higher than I've been before
It's Your perfect love that sees me soar
God your freedom is an open door
You are everything I want and more

Mar 26, 2016

Sunrise Bistro & Bar @ East Coast Park

The Tripsters
The story began as we're approached to perform as a resident band at Sunrise Bistro & Bar. It's the very first time we The Tripsters signed a contract for regular gigs.

What I really like about the place is that there's already a keyboard in place, and it hasn't been so convenient and enjoyable sitting on the cajón playing the keyboard - there's really flexibility and I was then regularly playing not one but two instruments. When friends are told the place I'm performing at, they're like wow, that's way to far, from everywhere. That isolated location really makes a difference in traveling there by car and by public transport. Still, thank God I have a direct buss (966) from Bukit Panjang to Marine Parade, although there's still a 10-minute-walk to complete the journey.

Food are overpriced to be frank, in spite of the fact the bar isn't even strategically located. Some food are great though, such as the Large Prawn Aglio Olio, my all time favorite despite being allergic to seafood! You have to try this if you're here one day. We're entitled to selected food and drinks from the menu, and most of the time I get the Large Prawn Aglio Olio, the taste is irresistible.

To those soccer fans out there, Sunrise Bistro & Bar often broadcasts soccer matches on their indoor and outdoor TVs (they have a big screen outdoor).

Mar 18, 2016

Stirling Bar & Grill @ Upper Bukit Timah

Stirling Bar & Grill
One of the legit reasons to visit restaurants and cafes along the Upper Bukit Timah Road is the new accessibility to the nearby MRT stations.

Stirling Bar & Grill is one of those lucky ones, located opposite Bukit Timah Shopping Centre and of walking distance from the Beauty World Station, thanks to the newly constructed Downtown Line.

You might be able to recall a vicinity called Stirling Road located in Queenstown, interestingly yes, the bar is named after this road because it's where the boss this bar grew up.

It was a post birthday dinner for me and Wilsen, my housemate whose birthday is a day after mine. I suggested this place simply because on one Sunday afternoon after church service, I patronized and enjoyed their cold brewed coffee by The Nomad, a mobile cafe serving coffee every weekend at Stirling.

A good and bad thing about the payment - there's no GST charges but only cash and NETS accepted. I guess if you sum them up it's still a better deal isn't it?


Apparently they're affiliated with a guitar school and there'll be guitar solo performance at night
If you enjoy listening to guitar solo, this is the place you should be patronizing, I mean, how many bars out there with such niche?

Mar 5, 2016

SAFRA The Ultimate Voice 2016

SAFRA organizes an annual singing competition called The Ultimate Voice and we were in time to sign up for our very first singing competition as a 3-piece band. There're solo category and group category.

We're required to submit an audio clip of our performance, if I don't remember wrongly, the duration is limited to less than 2 minutes, where I had a hard time deciding which portion of our cover to be trimmed, we submitted "The Scientist" by Coldplay by the way.

Quarter Finals @ SAFRA Toa Payoh (20 Feb)

We're informed that we're in the quarter finals on 16 Feb, an awesome start for us. And later on I found out that one of our Temasek Hall band juniors, Yoke Ling was also in the quarter final, what a coincidence. Check out her blog entry about SAFRA TUV.

I think there were 19 quarter finalists from group category and 100+ from solo category! That's crazy, and no wonder they limit the duration to 1 minute 30 seconds per contestant.

We performed a mashup of "Shut Up and Dance" by WALK THE MOON and "How to Save a Life" by The Fray, it's random I know, and there's barely any link between the songs but somehow they key Gary sings these two songs in the same key of B♭ major, plus the similar tempo, ultimately I think we're just trying to be 'different'. LOL...

Thanks to Hannah for the video, and we got into Semi Finals. So did Yoke Ling.