In this Q&A series, we highlight people conducting research at Meta in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. In this first installment, we’re highlighting Sin Lee Loh, a UX Research Manager based in Singapore.
Sin Lee Loh got her start at Meta working on Facebook Marketplace as a UX Researcher in San Francisco in 2015. After moving to Singapore in September 2021, she transitioned to a new role leading a team of UX researchers whose work enables other teams to build better user experiences for businesses and customers on Messenger and Instagram.
We reached out to Sin Lee Loh to learn more about her academic and professional background, her journey at Facebook so far, and UX research in the APAC region. She also offers advice for those looking to follow a similar path.
Q: Tell us a little about your academic and professional background.
Sin Lee Loh: I’m one of the minority of user experience researchers who took a very traditional and straightforward path — I studied psychology and did research on visuo-motor coordination using devices, and went to a graduate school program focused on human-computer interaction. At the time, I was driven by my interest in video games, and I wanted to study something I thought was fun and interesting.
While in graduate school, I had the opportunity to intern at eBay, where I learned how to work with product teams. This internship set me on the path toward industry instead of academia. (Also, getting to do a lot of shopping as part of my job was too fun to walk away from!)
In 2015, I had the opportunity to join a team at Meta (then known as Facebook) whose mission at the time was to “help people buy and sell on Facebook.” This eventually led to me working on the conceptualization of Facebook Marketplace, a feature on the Facebook app where people can find things to buy from people and businesses around them. Later, I needed a new challenge and pivoted to doing more research on businesses, focusing especially on scale and automation.
These days, I lead a research team whose mission is to provide insights to enable our teams to build ways for businesses and their customers to connect and transact more effectively through Messenger and Instagram Direct.
My journey at Meta so far has been a wild ride. I’ve had the fortune of seeing the team grow from a group of about 60 to now about a thousand! The best part about being at Meta is the exposure to so many people who are not just good but truly great at what they do. It’s a great place to learn.
Q: What are some of your passions? What motivates you?
SLL: I love technology (thanks, video games!), and I cannot imagine not working in a career related to technology in some fashion.
I’m very motivated by team dynamics and achieving goals as a group. I love the process of working with cross-functional teammates to figure out what we need to learn so that we can create new innovations that are actually useful and delightful for people. At the end of the day, I like to think I work with people for people, even though the medium is technology.
Q: Where has your career taken you?
SLL: I moved from San Francisco to Singapore in September 2021. I was raised in Southeast Asia and I was eager to be back — technological trends and behaviors are so different here! I was lucky that some leaders at Meta saw the potential in growing a team based here, and so I jumped at the opportunity to lead the team when it became available.
I am optimistic about the future of innovation in Southeast Asia, and I predict that UX functions here will continue to grow and evolve at a rapid pace. I’m grateful to be a part of the action and would love to have our research team be known as the best in the region.
Q: What does UX research at Meta look like in the United States? What about in the APAC region?
SLL: Honestly, very similar. Core research methods are pretty much universal, and the goal is to always approach research with rigor. The best practice of asking non-leading questions works in every language, for example. What may be different is how we adapt our research methods or research design based on deep knowledge of culture and societal norms. For example, in some countries, we may not want focus group compositions to mix genders or age groups due to how group dynamics may affect the responses.
Another key difference about doing research in APAC is — oh gosh — all the different languages and diversity in culture! Countries may be next to each other on a map, but languages and behaviors across borders may be completely different (and often are). This means that our research often involves a lot of translations and partnering with local experts.
Q: What advice would you give to others looking to follow your path?
SLL: For people who are looking to get into UX research, my advice is to first focus on understanding research methods and rigor. Then, make sure you get lots of practice and feedback from fellow researchers about how you can improve.
Another piece of advice is something we hear at Meta a lot: “Be your authentic self.” If there is something you are interested in or have a passion for, go for it! Follow a path that is true to yourself, recognize your own unique talents, and build upon what makes you special.