W ith an amazing array of sights, sounds, and tastes, Singapore has become the choice destination for visitors around the globe. Tourists have no shortage of things to do in our country, with an almost overwhelming choice of shopping and dining opportunities.
In 2014, our country has attracted about 15.1 million visitors. This is no small feat, and we have the STB to thank for our thriving tourism industry. If being part of this prosperous, vibrant, and dynamic industry sounds like your cup of tea, then a scholarship with the organisation might just be for you.
A little-known fact is that STB’s efforts extend beyond our borders. Having been with the organisation ever since the year 2010, STB Scholar Sheryl Soh Lejun is currently a Senior Manager posted in STB’s Mumbai branch. We speak to her to find out more about how she assists in promoting tourism in Singapore through her work in a foreign land.
Why did you decide on the STB Scholarship?
Sheryl Soh: I was interested in pursuing my studies at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. STB was one of the few organisations which provided a full scholarship for the course of my choice. The multi-disciplinary nature of the tourism sector also appealed to my desire to develop transferable skills for a globalised audience.
How does STB’s work help to push Singapore’s boundaries?
Sheryl: Tourism is one of the key economic pillars of Singapore. It creates a significant number of jobs for Singaporeans, and more importantly, it can be an effective lever to establish community building, local pride, and cultural diplomacy with our global neighbours.
At STB, we champion various functions for the tourism sector – namely industry development, regulation, marketing, and business development. We facilitate resilient businesses with industry development, ensure integrity through regulation, grow the brand presence of Destination Singapore with marketing, and finally we cultivate promising global and local companies to strengthen the tourism sector.
You are currently a Senior Manager at STB Mumbai. Tell us more about what you do.
Sheryl: I am currently stationed in Mumbai as part of the two-year Posted Manager Programme at STB. This programme enables young officers to gain international exposure and be part of the front-facing engine that drives our marketing work.
As a Senior Manager in the Mumbai office, my role is to raise awareness of Singapore as a destination for business and Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE) travel. This includes securing media partnerships, organising business events, and building relationships with business associations in India to build the perception of Singapore as a destination for knowledge and business exchange.
Sheryl Soh Lejun
Senior Manager, STB Mumbai
What are some interesting projects that you’ve helped to roll out?
Sheryl: Considering India’s push for entrepreneurship and digital innovation, I had many opportunities to engage various entrepreneurs, business associations, and start-up media houses in India. This gave me access to fresh, cross-disciplinary ideas to enrich STB’s work, build relationships with potential partners for our projects, and maintain a keen pulse on the developments shaping India’s future. Such efforts to connect with people on the ground help us to localise the relevance and shape interesting content for our projects in India.
How have you overcome Challenges at work?
Sheryl: In a large country like India, there is a higher chance for projects to be delayed and miscommunications to occur. I have also faced infrastructural challenges such as power outages – these are some things that we take for granted in Singapore.
As for how I overcome these difficulties? Well, I just learn to adapt. With time, you’ll be able to manage contingencies very efficiently, starting first with letting go of the inconsequential and having two back-up plans.
What other development opportunities have you been given as an STB Scholar?
Sheryl: The opportunity to travel is one which I deeply appreciate. Travelling as an international student and for work at STB has brought me to over 20 countries across 5 continents. There are ample avenues to pursue personal development at work, such as learning Hindi in Mumbai, and volunteering with other STB officers at an orphanage in Vietnam.
My experience overseas has been critical for personal and professional development. Travelling the world is really the only way for you to develop an appreciation for diversity and understand the different ways in which the world can be organised. Things like these can only be internalised by personally living in different cities.
What qualities should aspiring STB Scholars possess?
Sheryl: Cultural agility is important because the tourism sector’s workforce is diverse and we serve a global audience. Also, you require a wide range of skill sets and ideas in order to constantly engage and delight the tourism sector, so having an intellectual and open mind would bode well for you.
What advice would you have for those who wish to take up the STB Scholarship?
Sheryl: Don’t just apply for a scholarship with us just because you are excited for an overseas education! Make sure you’re interested in a career in the public service and a people-oriented industry. The things that we do at STB require a combined sense of purpose and camaraderie to keep us going. If you’ve already made up your mind, then don’t be afraid to take the plunge and enjoy the ride!