Side by Side: An Inseparable Journey

 

Twins TAY Yu Xuan and TAY Yu Heng (the older twin by 10 minutes), both graduated with B.Sc. (Hons) in Statistics (Minor in Financial Mathematics) and have shared nearly every key milestone in life. They attended the same schools - Pei Chun Public School, Zhonghua Secondary School and Temasek Junior College - and were in the same class for eight of 12 years of their education. They took the same co-curricular activities - Chinese orchestra in school and the Science Computer-Based Learning Centre at NUS. Both graduated in 2014 with excellent results. Today, they are both working in the dynamic data science sector. Yu Heng works at StarHub Ltd, while Yu Xuan works at Traveloka.

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Yu Xuan (left) and Yu Heng (right) were born in 1989: Even their dad had difficulty differentiating them!

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Yu Xuan (left) and Yu Heng (right) in 1991.
 

What made you select the same course in NUS?
We have similar interests and are used to making significant decisions together. Hence, it was natural that we selected our course of study in NUS together. We supported each other throughout our studies, took classes together and shared study materials. We took the same modules at NUS, except for three out of more than 35 modules.

How are you similar and different in your interests, personalities and aspirations?
We are much more similar than we are different. We have been sharing rooms since we were born and spent very little time apart. We completed our educational journey together. While we completed national service differently and we now work at different companies, we share the same upbringing, social circles and interests in technology and F1. We can often predict what the other is thinking, due to our shared experiences (not telepathy)!

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Yu Heng (middle) and Yu Xuan (right) in 1999: Both have always been interested in science. Here, they were featured on a magazine published by a community centre after they joined a series of workshops.

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Yu Heng (left) and Yu Xuan (right) in 2008: Both were posted into the same company, albeit in different platoons, during national service

Has it been difficult for people to tell you apart?  
It was usually difficult for people to tell us apart when we were growing up. It is also common for non-mutual friends to greet the wrong one of us on the streets, and then assume that we are cold and unresponsive as we do not know them. In primary school, a teacher informed the class that she was going to punish someone for changing seats without permission, before realising that we were twins sitting at different sides of the classroom. At NUS, our cohort found it very amusing when one of our professors realised that there was a pair of twins in his lecture when we volunteered to respond to consecutive questions by him. 

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Yu Xuan (left) and Yu Heng (right) in 2005: Both liked to wear the same set of clothes in their teens. 

Why did you pursue careers in similar fields?
When we graduated, data science had become a crucial skill in many industries. Hence, it was natural for us to venture into this exciting new field. The then Info-communications Development Authority of Singapore was also actively encouraging professionals to join the industry by subsidising related courses. We took up a data science specialisation on Coursera together. 

How do you complement each other?
We played to our strengths throughout our educational journey. Growing up, there was friendly competition between us and we spurred each other onward. Having a buddy in the same course meant we could always depend on each other. This was especially useful when preparing for exams and it was the primary reason we excelled in our studies.

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Yu Heng (left) and Yu Xuan (right):  During summer exchange at the University of Toronto

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Yu Xuan (left) and Yu Heng (right) in 2018: Both love the outdoors, trails and scenic views. This was taken during their most recent holiday in England, hiking through Cheddar Gorge in Somerset.