Real Estate Changemaker

Illustrations by Idea Ink

Yen Chong, deputy general manager at Qingjian Realty, has a razor-sharp focus in mind. She wants to change the real estate landscape by embracing innovation and technology, and incorporating smart living into real estate.

It is no secret that the incorporation of the Internet of Things (IoT) into homes in Singapore is soon to be the new normal. From smart appliances to home assistants, every inch of your home can be accessed or monitored from your smartphone with IoT. With the country’s Smart Nation initiative, it’s now estimated that about 90% of new development over the past year incorporates some form of technology into their homes and appliances.

Yen Chong, deputy general manager at Qingjian Realty (South Pacific) Pte Ltd, believes that soon, innovation and technology will be an expectation, rather than a luxury or ‘special feature’ in homes. Buyers will come to expect that their homes are fitted with the latest technology, and she has a razor-sharp focus as to how she intends to meet the demands of the future homeowner. 

Yen joined Qingjian five years ago, and has more than a decade of experience in the real estate industry, having been Division Director for Savills Singapore and also holding other roles within Qingjian Realty, prior to her current role. The award-winning Qingjian Realty is a Singapore-based property developer, and is also a part of the Qingjian Group in China. 

She is aware that the industry is largely conservative, and still very male-dominated, but that has not stopped her from pushing towards innovation. “From a brick-and-mortar real estate developer, I wanted us to grow into an innovation-driven company. How can we change, how do we achieve this? So we came up with the idea to [focus on] smart homes,” she says. 

The result is among Singapore’s first fully-smart private developments, JadeScape, which is located in Bishan near the MacRitchie Reservoir. The 1,206-unit development features smart-enabled homes, in addition to its new Smart Estate Management System and multi-generational living. 

It also boasts a whole host of other features, including smart lifestyles will be complemented by hiLife, a lifestyle mobile application that is designed for interactivity among the community within the development. Homeowners are also able to pay maintenance fees, book classes, unlock home doors, check on the availability of car washing bays remotely and more. 

This is in addition to other Qingjian properties, which are also equipped with a wide range of smart living concepts, such as being able to organise events or community activities online via an app, 24/7 facilities bookings, guest services, home assistance and more. 

To Yen, this plays right into the company’s focus on community connection, and providing convenience right at the fingertips. Beyond just technology, however, Yen says that Qingjian wants to rebuild connections within the community, which is the driving force behind the property developer’s smart community and smart living concepts. 

“We hardly ever connect with one another in today’s digital world. We don’t truly know our neighbours, for example,” she explains. “Which is why we’ve sought to resolve this by enabling smart community living– say you want to play tennis, now you can connect with others in the same community to do so.” 

It’s a fairly risky and challenging concept, especially in the still-traditional and conservative real estate industry, but Yen is determined to keep innovating and changing the landscape. After all, change is something she embraces– having had a successful career as a property agent and consultant for many years, taking on a role in Qingjian was a big change for her.

“It was truly taking my career to the next level, having worked to my own time and schedule– could I really take the nine-to-five? When this position was offered to me, I hesitated for about two months, but I felt it was a new challenge for me and which could change my life,” she recalls. 

It was tough, at first, coming in ‘fresh’ to the company, and there were long nights in the early stages, says Yen, and she’s always thankful that her team has been like family to her, and that the environment is a collaborative one.

And, being in a very male-dominated industry, she places great importance on mentoring and working with other young women. “I do try to tell them that there are definitely going to be hurdles in life, but what’s important is how we overcome them. And to overcome them we simply have to give our best, in everything we do,” she says. “What is best for the company, for myself, for the organisation? As long as you’re willing to give, you’re going to get back what you put in,” she adds. 

Illustrations by Idea Ink