During my summer internship at PolicyPal, I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of travelling to Paris to speak at VivaTech 2017, a french-based technology conference.
I was surprised when I was given the opportunity to attend VivaTech 2017, a technology conference in Paris, France. I did not expect to travel for work during my three month summer internship, let alone speaking in front of a large crowd in France.
Fortunately, being a communications undergraduate meant that I had at least some public speaking experience. I was raring to go and I felt confident in taking on the assignment.
In six days, I broadened my horizon in many different ways. I’ll try to summarise my experiences in this article.
1. Representing PolicyPal at VivaTech
VivaTech 2017 is an annual technology conference held in Paris, France. Focusing on innovation and start-ups, it attracted technology giants like Google, Facebook and Alibaba. Some of its notable attendees this year include France’s newly elected President, Emmanuel Macron, and Alibaba’s CEO, Daniel Zhang.
The pitch session was definitely the highlight of my trip. As the sole presenter, I had to explain PolicyPal’s solution clearly and answer any potential questions from the floor. If that wasn’t intimidating enough, I had to do it in front of a crowd that probably has not heard a Singaporean speak before.
Many delegates that I’ve spoken to were deeply impressed by the OCR, or Optical Character Recognition, technology PolicyPal uses. Basically, this allows the user to digitise their insurance policies in under 30 seconds, simply by taking a snapshot of it.
Some even commented that PolicyPal has potential to become a leader in the global Insurtech industry. That made me really proud to be part of a Singaporean start-up.
One thing that I learned is that when talking to foreigners, it’s important to speak slowly and enunciate every word properly. It is different from communicating in Singapore, where you can speak fast, and still manage to get your point across.
2. Macron, Google and Facebook
Meeting France’s rockstar President, Emmanuel Macron, was the other highlight of my time at VivaTech. I admit that I was completely starstruck when we met. He shook hands with me, probably because I was the only Asian in the sea of Europeans there. So yes, I must say that he’s quite a nice chap.
I also took time out to visit the Google and Facebook booths at the conference. With these two, you can always expect something spectacular (also tons of freebies).
3. Travelling for work
Travelling long distances is pretty taxing on your body. However, the sheer diversity of experiences made the long flight and jet lag all worth it.
Of course, I had to showcase how helpful PolicyPal is. Using the app, I purchased my travel insurance at the airport in under 3 minutes. It was instantly stored and reflected on the app after payment! ✨
4. Enjoying Paris and all it has to offer.
Besides work, I had plenty of time to explore around the city and be a Parisian for a few days. Personally, I think that the most impressive thing about France is its art, culture and history. The museums and monuments were definitely the biggest draw for me! Museums are a must if you are travelling to Paris. Through paintings and sculptures, you can experience how artists in different eras interpret the world. It’s no wonder they say that art is a reflection of the times. [Travel Secret 1: Always get the museum audio guides. It provides context, which is essential to understanding and appreciating the artwork on display.]
Overall, I’d say that Paris is relatively safe and tourist-friendly. The city itself is pretty easy to navigate around once you get used to commuting in their public trains. [Travel Secret 2: Purchase a ‘carnet’ of tickets (set of 10), it’s much cheaper than if you buy them individually. Also, use the Paris Metro App if you intend to commute around via the metro!] Museums are a must if you are travelling to Paris. Through paintings and sculptures, you can experience how artists in different eras interpret the world. It’s no wonder they say that art is a reflection of the times. [Travel Secret 1: Always get the museum audio guides. It provides context, which is essential to understanding and appreciating the artwork on display.]
One thing that struck me was the passion the French felt for their work. This applies to not only the tech founders and executives, but also the everyday restaurant waiter and public transport operator. The pride they take in their work is really inspiring. It’s definitely something that I’ll strive do in my everyday life.
This trip ranks as one of the most unforgettable experiences that I’ve had in my life. My internship at PolicyPal has given me lots of opportunities to attend conferences and workshops (both local and overseas). I’m extremely thankful to my bosses for having the trust and confidence in me. My time at PolicyPal has been enriching so far – and there’s still more than a month left to go! I’m glad that I made the decision to do an internship here.
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