Published: June 20, 2024
Published: June 20, 2024

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Min Chong Lee: Deep Diving in the Data Lake

As an information technology (IT) manager for data and analytics, Min Chong (MC) Lee captains a team that is constantly navigating, mining and expanding our vast data lake to help our businesses improve their performance through data-driven decision making.

From IT Newbie to Seasoned Manager

Based in Malaysia, MC began his journey in data engineering in a rather unconventional way. He graduated college with a degree in actuarial science and, according to him, had no IT knowledge at all. He didn't even know what a database or structured query language was.

“The learning curve was quite steep for me. However, my first job in a consulting firm offered me an invaluable opportunity to dive into the world of data engineering. My background in actuarial science also provided me with a solid foundation in statistical analysis and risk management, which are fundamental aspects of data analytics, and instilled in me the importance of precision and attention to detail.”

MC joined PPG in 2019, quickly immersing himself in our data domain as he moved from individual contributor to experienced manager in data engineering. In his current role, he oversees multiple data-oriented projects, ensures they align with business and corporate goals, and drives the overall vision for our data engineering efforts. He provides technical oversight and fosters a collaborative and innovative culture within his team, encouraging continuous learning and promoting best practices.

Enabler of Data-driven Decision Making

MC has led some of our most challenging initiatives that are focused on our four pillars to improve data-driven decision making:

  • Reducing complexity;

  • Centralizing and growing our data assets;

  • Empowering people; and

  • Continued optimization.

He has played a key role in standardizing and consolidating disparate data from across our business into a single cloud-based repository that we call a data lake, which makes our data easier to access and manage. MC led the project to migrate the lake’s infrastructure and, subsequently, data from one platform to another early in the COVID-19 pandemic when the world was in lockdown.
Coordinating across multiple team members and managing deadlines under such unprecedented conditions added a significant layer of complexity. Despite these challenges, the initiative resulted in a better performing and more stable platform, enabling us to grow and execute more data analytics projects effectively. In fact, the time from inputting source data to providing the latest data to the user has been reduced by 70%.

Another of MC’s projects is a revamped application called the Complexity Analysis Tool (CAT), which he and his team brought into the data lake as part of a transition from on-premises reporting to cloud-based reporting. CAT helps us understand our entire business ecosystem, from raw materials to finished goods.

“Imagine CAT as a special control tower for our businesses. It helps them keep an eye on everything from the ingredients we use to make products like paint to the finished goods we sell. By using CAT, our people can make smarter decisions and manage risks across the entire supply chain. It’s like having a super-smart helper to guide you.”

That came into focus for one employee who was looking at the costs of manufacturing a particular product. An analysis conducted using CAT identified the product as a high sales contributor and also provided a breakdown of the raw materials and suppliers used to manufacture it. The data mining revealed one raw material was sourced from a single supplier, posing a risk to the supply chain. Additional suppliers for that raw material have since been secured.


Boundary Setting Brings Balance

While he works mainly in the cloud, MC feels it’s crucial to be grounded when it comes to balancing his professional world and personal life despite a schedule that involves connecting with colleagues in time zones that can differ by 12 hours or more.

“I set clear boundaries and prioritize my time effectively. I make sure to dedicate quality time to my family and engage in personal hobbies, which help me stay grounded and energized. Monday through Thursday are okay for a late-night meeting, but Friday evening through the weekend is family time.”

MC’s career motivation is the constant opportunity for learning and growth, as well as seeing the tangible impact of his work on our company’s success.

The dynamic nature of the data engineering field continuously challenges me and fuels my passion for innovation. My experience with PPG over the last five years has been consistently engaging. I’m #PPGProud because of our commitment to innovation, our supportive and collaborative culture, and the positive difference we make in the industry and communities we serve.

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