Technical Writing and Documentation Service Provider in Singapore


    The Journal of My Technical Writing Career

    As a child, I dreamed of Pilot, as a young boy I dreamed of Doctor, but there are dreams that cannot be and storms we cannot weather. 

    I am now a Writer in the business of informing and persuading. I love to research and convey complex information in a simple, understandable, and user-friendly formats to capture the interest of readers. And as a writer, I am the bridge between engineers and end users to communicate the operation of a product in an elegant style, by arousing the reader's curiosity.


    Technical Writer
    In the process of attaining my dreams, I discovered something more precious - God of this universe through the Bible. It's an exciting adventure which I will share in future.

    During school days, my goal was to rank top in the class. I performed well in my studies and ranked among the top 10 students. On rare occasions, my rank slipped below my expectations, but I always bounced back. Life’s biggest goals were finishing exams, scoring well and traveling to my hometown - Kottayam, an adventurous journey by train for three days and two nights, passing through the hills, mountains, rivers, fields and tunnels. 

    After tenth, like every student in the science stream, my goal was to be a Doctor or an Engineer. I let go of all extracurricular activities and focused only on studies. In XII, most of us had private tuitions on top of what school teachers were already providing. But things didn't work out as per my plans. I did not qualify for Engineering or Medicine in the Gujarat board. Based on the merit system, I could pursue bachelor's degree in Science from the M.S. University of Baroda in 1995. 


    While in the first year, I pursued my dream by studying for Medical Entrance but due to clashes in the examination dates, I let go of my dream and carried on with a renewed mind. I scored 62% in the first year and expected similar performance in the second year but to my surprise, I scored only 52%.


    During the final year BSc., I decided to pursue Masters in Computer Applications (MCA) and prepared for MCA entrance examination. To qualify for the entrance examination, I needed to score at least 60% in the final year BSc, so that the average of the second and third year comes out to be 55%. By God's grace, I managed to score 62% in the final year. I wrote the entrance examination in May 1998 and ranked third in the exam. It was a miracle from God to see my rank in top 10, among hundreds of candidates from different parts of India. 

    When I attended the first semester classes, the subjects were very different from what I had studied until then. The programming languages were foreign to me. The only subjects, I was comfortable, were Maths and Economics. During the first year, I performed badly in the programming languages. But from the second year onwards, my grades improved. In the sixth semester, I did a six months project at the Railway Staff College. That was the time when I was exposed to the Internet for the first time. In the overall three years of MCA curriculum, I scored first class. 

    During the college days, every student's goal was to get through the campus interview. In the fifth semester, 2001, companies like Amdocs, TCS, Patni, Wipro, MBT hired more than half the class of our MCA graduates. But in the later part of the year, due to dot-com bubble burst coupled with WTC attack, companies canceled or postponed their job offers. It was a big blow to those who were given offer letters. Through God's favor, I managed to get into Amtel, a small US based company in Baroda as a Product Engineer. I was interviewed by Suresh Gajwani, the CEO of the company.


    At Amtel, I was involved in documentation, technical support, gathering customer requirements, writing persuasive RFP responses, assisting sales in identifying customer's business requirements and delivering technically correct solutions, testing, and even purchasing controllers and chips. I had hands-on experience with almost everything except coding. I loved the RFID and Security products and enjoyed my work there.

    I worked at Amtel for two and half years, but there was no salary increment. I decided to change the company. By this time, my programming skills got rusted, and I lost passion for coding. The only option I had was to work as a Testing Engineer or Sales Engineer. While browsing for jobs in the newspapers, I came across a post of Technical Writer that caught my attention. Until then I was not aware of a post called Technical Writer. 

    I gave two interviews, one with Impetus Technologies for the position of Testing Engineer and another with Zensar Technologies for the post of Technical Writer. I remember traveling Ahmedabad to attend the interview from Impetus Technologies. For Zensar, it was a telephonic interview.


    While I was in Kerala for our house warming celebration, I got the offer letter from Impetus. After reaching Baroda, I put forth my resignation and joined Impetus, Indore in Feb 2004 as a Software Testing Engineer. That was the first time I started living independently away from my parents. I was given a week's accommodation in a hotel. 


    Cross Roads
    Two weeks later, while working in Impetus, I got another offer from Zensar Technologies for the post of Technical Writer with a better salary. I was in a dilemma whether to accept the offer since I was happy with the role of Software Testing Engineer. After much pondering, I decided to go for Zensar's offer that established my career as a Technical Writer, a road not taken by the MCA graduates.

    Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
    And sorry I could not travel both
    And be one traveler, long I stood
    And looked down one as far as I could
    To where it bent in the undergrowth;
    Then took the other, as just as fair,
    And having perhaps the better claim
    Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
    Though as for that the passing there
    Had worn them really about the same,
    And both that morning equally lay
    In leaves no step had trodden black.
    Oh, I marked the first for another day!
    Yet knowing how way leads on to way
    I doubted if I should ever come back.
    I shall be telling this with a sigh
    Somewhere ages and ages hence:
    Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
    I took the one less traveled by,
    And that has made all the difference

    At Zensar, I wrote documentation for the UML tool - BluePrint Foundry, created a help file using a freeware tool “Cheetah”, and wrote ADDL syntax Programmer’s Guide.


    Sometime in Oct 2004, I received an email for Technical Writing position with Samsung Electronics, South Korea. I was offered flight tickets to attend the interview in Bangalore.
    When I entered the meeting room, I was surprised to see room full of Korean nationalities. The interview went well, but I was not sure of my performance. In December 2004, through God's favor, I received the confirmation letter from Samsung about my selection. During the same time, I received another offer letter from a company in Pune, but I decided to join Samsung Electronics. I resigned from Zensar Technologies on 10th Jan 2004.


    I arrived S. Korea on 21st Feb 2005. It was one of the coldest days with temperature below minus 15 degrees. You can read about my experience here http://www.thomasabeesh.com/2012/07/14/memoirs-of-south-korea/. I was with the Flash Management Software group, Memory Division, responsible for creating documentation for Samsung's XSR, Whimory, RFS, and TFS4 file systems.

    Memory Division, Samsung Electronics
    Memory Division, Samsung Electronics
    The best part of working in Samsung, Korea is that they provide fully furnished flat, festival bonuses during Chinese New Year (Feb) and Chuseok Festival (Sep), performance bonus equivalent to 2-3 months salary, year ending completion bonus, two-way flight tickets to your home country, relocation allowance, and zero tax for foreigners who have Master's degree and 3+ years of work experience. 
    Samsung Electronics Residence
    A view from my flat in S.Korea
    I enjoyed the weather in Korea especially the snow in winter. Some of the beautiful places I love there are Jeju, Busan, and Seoul. The company provided free Korean language training.

    When I joined the Memory Division, it was the most profitable division of Samsung Electronics, but in 2009 due to the global recession, the company suffered loss, and the management decided not to renew the contract for foreigners. Most of my colleagues opted to work in Samsung, Bangalore.

    Before the turn of these events, I had decided to work in the UK. In October 2008, I applied for the Tier 1 work permit and within a week, it was approved. I could stay in the UK and look for a job without requiring any company to sponsor my work permit.

    After my contract with Samsung, I arrived in the UK in March 2009. But it was an economic recession there too. I stayed in Cambridge with a Nigerian family for a monthly rent of 350 pounds. It was through them; I got the chance to attend the African-American Worship service at the City of David Church - one of the most vibrant and energetic people I ever met in my life. While staying in the UK for three months, I managed to get three interviews in Bristol and Cambridge, but no success. I decided to return India to continue my career as a technical writer. On June 2nd, 2009 I left Cambridge and came back to my hometown - Kottayam, Kerala. In the mid-June, I received an email from a consultancy in Singapore for the post of a technical writer with Savi Technology - A Lockheed Martin Company.

    Savi is the primary provider of active RFID technology and supports the U.S. Department of Defense, NATO and allied defense forces worldwide in building the world's largest Automatic Identification Technology-based cargo monitoring.
    Singapore
    Singapore
    There were five rounds of telephonic interview with ID Manager, Principal Writer, ID Director, Product Manager, and Vice President of Savi, Singapore. By God's favor, the interviews were successful, and I was selected to work in Singapore for Savi Technologies. I was supposed to join on July 15th, 2009 but later I discovered that I could not travel since my passport had less than six months validity. I applied for the tatkal passport in Kochi and got my passport after seven days. It took another one week to get my employment pass from the Singapore MoM.  I was provided the flight tickets and two weeks accommodation at Spottiswood Park, Tanjong Pagar. On July 26, 2009, I arrived Singapore and joined Savi Technologies. It was my first experience to work in an Agile Scrum environment.  I wrote SDK Installation Guide, User Guides, Installation Guides for Savi’s SmartChain RFID applications, using  XMetal as Single Sourcing tool for generating content in various formats such as Online Help, CHM, and JAR files, and performed quality assurance and usability testing in the process of producing user documentation.

    Savi Technology Collegues
    Savi Colleagues
    After working there for a year, in August 2010, due to company's financial performance, the US office decided to outsource development work to India. Nobody expected the closure of operations in Singapore.The employees were given the choice to work in India, but nobody opted for it. In the middle of September, through God's favor, I received two offers, one with Philips Electronics and another with Tagit Pte Ltd, an Indian company in Singapore, for a one-year contract. I was in dilemma to choose the company since both offered the same pay package but I decided to go for Tagit. My responsibilities were to create user guides, installation guides, and training materials for the mobile banking application, Mobeix. 

    In August 2011, history repeated itself. Due to the financial situation, Tagit started cutting staff, and I was also laid off. Since I was employed through consultancy, they tried their best to find another client but no success. Meanwhile, I applied for PEP and got approval within three weeks. I could work for any company in Singapore without requiring a company sponsored work permit.

    In the first week of October 2011, I got an interview call for a technical writing position with PayPal, an eBay company, at Suntec City, Singapore. It was a six months contract position. There were four candidates vying for the same post. On Oct 10, a day before my birthday, I got confirmation about my selection. Praise God. My responsibilities were to create API documentation for their SOA based financial instrument services. 

    On February 29, 2012, I received a call from the consultant informing that my last working day would be on April 16th, 2012. I was taken by surprise since I expected an extension of my contract.

    I started applying for jobs. In the third week of March 2012, I got an interview call from JDSU T&M Singapore Pte Ltd, a US based Telecom company. I attended the interview and within two weeks, I received confirmation about my selection. All praises to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. One thing I know for sure, God can do it again and again when you call Him. After my selection, PayPal wanted to extend my contract for three more months, but it was too late.

    After working for JDSU for three years and two months, the company split into two different groups, Viavi Solutions, and Lumentum. Because of the split, it carried a burden of 50 million USD. To manage the expenses, JDSU decided to close the R&D division in Singapore, phase by phase. I was given a month's notice period. The company provided the relocation expenses and three months salary for the number of years I worked.

    A week before leaving Singapore, I got an interview, through referral, from an ex-colleague. I cleared the first round which comprised of a written test, interview with a product lead, and with the director of the Singapore division. The second round was a telephonic interview with a senior writer in the US. I cleared that and then there was a third round of telephonic interview scheduled on 29th July with the VP of the R&D Division from the US. 

    I also had an interview scheduled with a different company on 30th July, but my visa was valid until 26th July. I went to ICA Singapore, to extend my visa, but it was denied.

    While in India, I completed the third round of the telephonic interview and submitted three references of my previous company.

    After two weeks, I received confirmation about my selection. The company applied for my Employment Pass, which was approved within a week. Praise God for His favor. After I joined the company on 26th August, I came to know there were other candidates vying for the same post. 


    Why Hire Me?

    I am surprised to see advertisements from high-tech companies in Singapore, looking for Technical Writers with just 2 to 3 years of experience. I believe it is because of the cost factor to hire experienced writers with 10+ years of experience. But the companies that adopt such an approach are unaware of its effect on the documentation quality. Due to lack of exposure to the document development process, a novice writer cannot contribute to the documentation development activity. If your documentation is written by engineers, you risk satisfying your customers. Check this link for potential costs of poor or missing documentation   http://www.stc-berkeley.org/MonthlyMeeting/october2012_meeting/Devney_Handout_2.pdf


    Technical Writing is an art as well as science. We practice our craft to service the reader, not our psyches. We don't expel raw material; we transmute it to provide what the reader most wants. 

    But bear in mind, that Technical Writers are not magicians who can generate content automatically. We need a thorough understanding of the product and a training if possible before we can come out with the first draft. That's why it's important to interact with engineers, QA, and product manager to gain first-hand knowledge of the product, and study the design and functional specifications to understand the product.

    When a writer has to work on multiple products, it is economical from the company's standpoint, but from the writer's perspective, it does not allow him to master the product. The writer's focus is on creating the content, crafting the content, and publishing the content on time. Time is critical when a writer has to work on multiple products.This approach is fine if the company does not expect writers to become subject-matter experts.

    Technical documents are designed to convey information clearly and persuasively but there are no definite, measurable standards to judge. It's possible that writing can be error-free and still not communicate effectively. There are no algorithms for writing. It takes years of experience and mentorship for writers to come out with quality documentation. The key to writing a good document is that it has to be a good experience for both partners, the writer, and the reader. The satisfaction of the writer and the reader are interwoven.You wouldn't want a layman walking into a hospital operating theater to deliver a child. Nor would you want a layman to design the next car you travel in. But writing? Can everybody do it? 

    My Advantage
    • Excellent inter-personal skills
    • Excellent communication skills 
    • IELTS score 8
    • Master of Computer Applications (MCA) and Bachelor of Science (Physics)
    • More than 14 years of writing experience with reputed companies
    • Mentored by professional Writers and Editors
    • Expert in using documentation tools such as XMetal Author, Robohelp, Altova XML Spy Adobe FrameMaker, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Visio for generating online help, and PDF files
    • Expert in creating API Documentation, SDK Developer Guide, User Guides, Installation Guides, White Papers, Training Materials, and Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)
    • Worked in Agile Scrum and Waterfall environment
    • Expert in working with Configuration Management tools such as Tortoise Subversion, ClearCase, and Snapshot CM

    My Experience
    • Telecommunications
    • Electronics
    • Mobile applications
    • Software
    • Security Systems
    • Financial Instruments
    • Client-Server applications
    • Scientific instruments

    If you have any questions, or you want to hire me, send me an email at abeeshthomas@yahoo.com.

    If you want to outsource your writing and documentation projects, contact Geenu Ann via email: info@thomasecafe.com or call +65-82086393. 

    9 comments:

    1. Hi Abeesh,

      Thats wonderful article to read.

      I am travelling to Korea soon, please let me know your gmail or any contact id.

      Thanks,
      Amrat

      ReplyDelete
    2. Hi Abeesh,

      For cross reference my email id is "piyush.bitspilani@gmail.com".

      Looking forward to hear from you soon.

      Thanks,
      Amrat

      ReplyDelete
    3. Hi Abeesh,

      Nice article! Could you write an article on tips about writing technical documentation for business people.


      Regards,
      Ganesh

      ReplyDelete
    4. Abeesh,
      Thanks for sharing your example. It is a perfect example of a person who found his 'calling' like a water finding its course - through hurdles, crevices and bushes. You are lucky, although i meet many others who find it very difficult. All the best.

      ReplyDelete
    5. Thanks Sanjiv. Each one of us has a calling and our goal is to discover that calling, earlier the better.

      ReplyDelete
    6. Hi Ganesh, technical white papers are powerful marketing tool to help key decision-makers in implementing solutions. You can check this link on how to write a white paper.
      http://www.stelzner.com/copy-HowTo-whitepapers.php

      ReplyDelete
    7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. This comment has been removed by the author.

        Delete
    8. Hi Abeesh,
      Nice to be here,
      I am here via my
      hus's blog page
      A well written
      page with lot
      of lovely pics,
      but sad to say
      that i noticed
      something missing here
      A followers button etc etc....
      and this fonts size is small
      and letters in white with a black background will surely give strain to your readers, i am sure due to that people will run away from here, no one wants to spoil their eyes these days though there is a good and well written stuff people won't take risk, i now want to copy these and put it into word pad and then to word file. hi hi hi i am sure that will be a tedious job, so pl. change your font color or the template color
      Best Regards
      Ann and Phil

      ReplyDelete