G IC is charged with the important responsibility of managing Singapore’s foreign reserves. The organisation generates good returns by seeking out fruitful investment opportunities and making pinpoint decisions, contributing directly to funding part of the government budget which is then channeled towards improving the lives of Singaporeans.
GIC adopts this approach towards its people as well – picking out the most talented and outstanding of individuals and investing in them. GIC Scholars Alvin Loke and Chua Ei Mun are two beneficiaries of this investment. We speak to them to learn more about what a career with GIC is like.
Tell us about why you chose to pursue a scholarship with GIC.
Alvin Loke: GIC stood out as an organisation that was willing to seriously invest in its talent for the long term. In addition, as a global asset manager with a diverse portfolio, GIC offers a rich career path that could satisfy my broad interests. I am generally curious about things around me, and GIC offers me a platform to learn and satisfy my intellectual curiosity, all while I add value and make a difference.
Alvin Loke Jun Wei
Assistant Vice President, Total Return (Global), Public Equities
Chuah Ei Mun: At the point of deciding on a scholarship, there was no way I would have known how an eventual job with GIC (or any of the other organisations that offered me a scholarship) would be like.
I proceeded based on the objectives of the organisation and broad occupation types. I decided that I wanted a job that would provide me with a sense of purpose and opportunities to receive continuous learning. GIC appealed to me as the objective of protecting and managing Singapore’s reserves resonated with me and I knew that finance as a career would involve constant learning and provide exciting challenges.
What are your roles and responsibilities at work?
Alvin: I’m currently in the Total Return Global team in public equities, helping to conduct research and analysis on companies that we currently or could potentially invest in. I meet with various stakeholders, including company management and industry experts, to learn about their businesses and support the team’s investment decisions with my analysis. GIC is well-regarded in the global investment community, and some of my most memorable moments so far have been interacting with some of the “living legends” of the investment world.
The most fulfilling part of the job has to be working with my team. They are a remarkable bunch of hardworking, smart, and fun people to be around. I am constantly being challenged and stretched, which creates opportunities for me to grow and develop.
Ei Mun: I currently help GIC underwrite and execute real estate investments. The best aspect of my job is the constant opportunity to learn as every deal is different, and being reminded that every deal makes a difference to the country’s future.
Chuah Ei Mun
Assistant Vice President, Real Estate
Given that I cover real estate, I am often required to visit the underlying real assets which the investment involves. I have treaded flooded construction sites, climbed onto rooftops to look at plant and machinery, and walked within the grounds of glamorous top tier shopping malls and hotels for work.
How has GIC facilitated your growth as a person?
Alvin: I am very grateful for being given the opportunity to work in one of GIC’s overseas offices. I am currently based in New York, and have lived here for the past two years. Working abroad has definitely been a tremendous growth opportunity – it encourages independence, forces you to step out of your comfort zone in a new environment, and makes you interact with people of different backgrounds that you may not normally engage with.
On the professional front, I reap the benefits of working in a place like New York on a daily basis. Through the course of my work, I’ve had the privilege to meet and engage with some of the best and brightest minds in the investment community. Besides building my professional network, being in New York has also helped to accelerate my growth and development as an investment professional.
Ei Mun: Through my studies and my career, I have gained a lot of exposure to people from diverse cultures who have inspired me. If I had not taken the GIC scholarship, I believe I would not have come across these people.
Furthermore, I have been empowered to make decisions and learn from the best people in my field of work from a very early stage of my career. This has allowed me to develop very quickly in a relatively short period of time after entering the work force. I personally believe that the first few years of our work life is a huge determinant in our career, given that a lot of our habits, work ethics and relationships are formed during that period. This is why I appreciate that I got such a great start with GIC.
What advice would you have for those exploring their scholarship options?
Alvin: Take your time to find out as much as possible about the organisations you are interested to work for. Speak with current and former employees as a way to develop different perspectives. The best advice I can give is to think about your career when you choose a scholarship, and not merely as a means to fund an overseas education.
Ei Mun: Choosing a scholarship is not just about choosing the funding for the next four or five years of education – it is more about choosing a career thereafter. Do some long-term thinking – really consider what would inspire and fulfil you when making this decision. I wish you all the best!