UBC MEL MHLP Professional Leadership Master Degrees

Dependable Software Systems, Dicky Wong

Success Story — Dicky Wong

Dependable Software Systems, Dicky Wong

After graduating in 1994 with a Bachelor of Computer Science from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Dicky Wong built a successful career at HSBC. Over the course of 25 years, he advanced in the company, initially starting out as a junior programmer and moving upwards into positions as lead development specialist and senior associate director.

While he liked the stability of his job, he says he also felt a desire to step outside of his comfort zone.

“It was a big decision to go back to school after so long, but I believed I would benefit personally and professionally by increasing my exposure to different disciplines and technologies.”

He and his family wanted to move to Canada, and UBC appealed for its world-class reputation. And while Dicky researched UBC’s many master’s degree options in computer science and software, the Master of Engineering Leadership (MEL) in Dependable Software Systems stood out.

“I liked that it was a condensed one-year program, and I thought there was a good mix of technical and business classes,” he says. “The curriculum’s focus on dependable and reliable software systems aligned with my previous job where my primary role was to maintain the stability of a system critical for serving customers.”

Learning new skills in software systems and business

The MEL in Dependable Software Systems offers students a high-level overview of core disciplinary knowledge in error-resilient computing systems, software testing, project management, and the design of secure computing systems.

Some of this content was new to Dicky. “Although I hadn’t worked in the field of error-resilient computing before, I wrote a program on distributed systems on a cloud platform using a computer language I had never used before. The context and tools were new to me, and the underlying concepts were challenging – which meant that I learned a lot!”

Students also complete a capstone project, where Dicky worked with two classmates on strategies for modernizing legacy systems. This is a pressing issue for many organizations who find themselves with significant investments in old systems that are now required to provide fast and modern solutions for internal and external clients.

The technical courses are balanced by classes in business and leadership offered through UBC Sauder’s Robert H. Lee Graduate School.

“The business professors were professional and passionate,” says Dicky. “I enjoyed the discussions of strategy and innovation, which encouraged us to think out of the box when running a business. The class on sustainability was also very valuable in reminding us of the importance of social responsibility.”

Becoming an infrastructure architect

Dicky made full use of the MEL’s career services, attending sessions on resume development, cover letters and interview preparation.

Just after graduating, in January 2022, he was hired to work as an infrastructure architect by Kyndryl, a spin-off of IBM IT infrastructure services.

“The MEL definitely helped me get the job,” he says. “In my current position I am providing consulting services to organizations on how to modernize their systems so they can provide better service for their clients. So my capstone project was relevant to this role.”

Dicky says he is very glad he made the difficult decision to leave a stable job, move to a new country with his family and return to school decades after completing his undergrad. “I made a very good choice,” he says.

“I would advise other people that you shouldn’t hesitate if you are thinking about this program. If you have dedication and purpose, you can succeed in the MEL.”