Grab has come a long way since its launch as a humble ride-hailing app nine years ago to its recent initial public offering on NASDAQ. Our co-founder and CEO Anthony Tan started Grab as MyTeksi, a solution to providing safer transportation in Malaysia.
Today, Grab serves the social mission of driving Southeast Asia forward through economic empowerment and permeates many aspects of our lives – from mobility, food and groceries delivery, to personal loans – it has made life more convenient for us. It has also provided much-needed employment as delivery rider-partners and driver-partners during the pandemic.
Grab embodies the power of homegrown technology – by leveraging local technology and manpower, as well as a healthy dose of grit and determination, it has elevated the region’s digital economy. Grab’s influence in Southeast Asia has also given rise to a well-rounded tech talent pool, filled with the region’s brightest and most capable. In the case of the COVID-19’s devastation on jobs and the economy, Grab has pressed on in its social mission to equip people with tools to improve their livelihoods.
We spoke with some new Grabbers (Grab employees) and Grabversauruses (long-serving Grab employees): Su Xinyi, Engineering Manager, Food, who has been with Grab since February 2021; Wang Zhuo Chun, Senior Software Engineering Manager, GrabAds, for six-and-a half-years; and Michael Cheah, Senior Software Engineering Manager, GrabAds who joined in 2012 as our first Mobile Engineer, as they share about their journeys at Grab and their hopes for the future.
Proud to be part of Grab
Xinyi: I’m very proud of Grab’s decision to go public. It is the first time I will be working for a public company and I think it is so amazing.
Zhuo Chun: I’ve been at Grab for many years and being a part of the fast growth, making a great impact on society and communities, I feel very proud as we achieve this milestone. It’s a once in a lifetime experience for me to witness Grab become a public company.
Michael: As someone who joined in the early days, when we were based in a very small office in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, I am super proud of what we have achieved. I hope that more will know our story and join us on our mission.
The Grab office in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia in the early days
Staying for the ride to drive Southeast Asia forward
Xinyi: Joining Grab was an opportunity for me to contribute to a fast-growing company. Grab’s mission is to drive Southeast Asia forward and I’m excited that I can make this mission a reality. I enjoy working here and I think my core values match the values of the company.
Zhuo Chun: I recall years back, when I was trying to flag down a taxi and my friend showed me the Grab app. Using the app, we managed to book a ride which was affordable and convenient. That was the first time I heard of Grab and I did not hesitate to join the company when the opportunity arose.
I’ve stayed at Grab because of the great work environment and Grab’s culture. I’m working with an intelligent group of people and we are constantly solving complex and interesting problems. I am motivated by my team and making great impact for consumers.
Michael: Since I was young, my passion has been coding. In 2012, after I graduated with a degree in microbiology and a certificate in computer science, I came back to Malaysia knowing I wanted to pursue a career in software engineering.
I was looking into the new tech startup scene back in the day. When I came across MyTeksi, which was trying to solve problems in the Malaysia taxi industry, I knew it would be the perfect place for me to learn. That was how I became MyTeksi’s first Mobile Engineer!
I learned a lot in the early days of building the app. After pursuing another career aspiration, I came back to Grab in 2018 to learn more about backend engineering. One thing that has never changed for me is the satisfaction I get when I solve a very challenging technical problem, knowing that my work will improve the lives of millions.
Grab’s evolution from a modest ride-hailing app in Malaysia to the Southeast Asia superapp
Xinyi: I joined Grab during the pandemic, but that didn’t change us much. In fact Covid-19 has highlighted how important our social mission is. I’m part of the Grab Deliveries business and our work has helped many live through the pandemic with convenience on the app.
Zhuo Chun: There are a few ways Grab has evolved. The first is its office location. We started in an old building in Singapore’s central business district before moving to a bigger and nicer office. Now, we have our own office building spanning seven floors.
From an engineering point of view – we had only two major departments – one for passengers and another for driver-partners. Now, we have hundreds of engineers working across different services. We started with transport and now we have deliveries, groceries, payments and many more.
Overall, I feel like Grab has expanded and evolved. At the same time, we’ve maintained our core values of who we are: Heart, Hunger, Humility and Honour.
Zhuo Chun celebrating his 4th year Grabversary with his team
Michael: We’ve managed to scale immensely so that many different teams can work on our system at the same time, and we can implement features that can be used by different consumer segments.
A learning journey at Grab for all
Xinyi: I learned to go out of the way to serve and support each other. We respond quickly to our consumers’ questions and find solutions to their issues and problems.
Xinyi and her team in the Grab R&D centre in Beijing, China
Zhuo Chun: The biggest thing I’ve learned is how engineering can create value for consumers. I remember when I was traveling in Indonesia, and talking to a driver-partner. He provided feedback about our product, and made me realise how our work really affects people’s day to day lives.
Michael: One of the biggest learnings for me is that no matter how difficult or challenging a situation, if we put our heads together and work as a team, we are able to come out on top.
This reminds me of how we solved a system issue in the early days. Together with our co-founder, Anthony, we stayed with the tech team overnight to fix the issue.
Michael and his team working together to solve problems and improve the Grab app
Improving the livelihoods of millions across Southeast Asia
Xinyi: In my role, I’m working on an in-transit batching feature that boost delivery efficiency, which means on-time or early deliveries for our consumers. Broadly, Grab has helped millions combat the economic impact brought on by Covid-19, by allowing everyday entrepreneurs to earn a livelihood through the app.
Zhuo Chun: Grab is creating convenience and opportunities for everyone in the ecosystem. Being part of Grab, I am using technology to create impact in the region. While it benefits the community, it’s rewarding to me as well.
Michael: It’s a way for me to make a difference to my country. There was a time when it was inconvenient to travel without having a car in Kuala Lumpur, but that isn’t the case anymore, thanks to Grab.
Homegrown technology at Grab
Xinyi: Homegrown technology is very important. It promotes regional technology and development, and helps to upgrade industries. It also benefits local tech talent growth.
Zhuo Chun: I think when we build our tech in-house, this allows us to be hyperlocal. By building our product to cater specifically to our consumers in Southeast Asia, we can play a more active role in driving the regional tech community forward.
Michael: When we write code to implement a feature or fix an issue, it is really important for us to understand the real purpose and the meaning behind it.
As engineers, we spend a lot of time collaborating with product managers and designers, as this helps us to understand how the product features cater to the different perspectives and needs of our consumers.
Xinyi: By going public, I hope Grab continues to be a leading company in Southeast Asia and we can increase our opportunities as a business.
Zhuo Chun: I look forward to us continuing to make great impact for people in Southeast Asia, and I hope more talented folks will work with us to create even bigger impact.
Michael: I hope that more people will be interested to learn about us, and to understand the challenges we face everyday. We always welcome amazing talented individuals to join us in our social mission of driving Southeast Asia forward.
Growing with Grab
Xinyi: At Grab, we work together to achieve our mission. Our culture is performance-driven, managers are accessible, and we support each other when facing difficulties. We are building a great place to work.
Zhuo Chun: Grab has a diverse and talented group of people. We have a very friendly and collaborative culture. I feel inspired and motivated working with them everyday, and I believe others will feel the same way.
Zhuo Chun and Grabbers in the Marina One office in Singapore
Michael: If you’re interested in solving challenging technical problems, Grab would be a great place for you.
While we are grateful for how far we’ve progressed since our humble beginnings, having grown from a warehouse in Malaysia to our Nasdaq listing, we are merely at day one. This marks the beginning of Grab Holdings with a relentless pursuit into driving Southeast Asia forward and making every day better for our communities.
We’re always looking for the right people to join our mission, and we’re currently hiring across the globe. If you’re ready to begin, we invite you to join us on our journey. Check out open roles on our careers site now!