International Enterprise Singapore
Feature | Organisation

Connecting Singapore to the World

International Enterprise Singapore
As the government agency that partners Singapore companies to go abroad, International Enterprise (IE) Singapore positions home-grown enterprises on the global stage and attracts global commodity traders to anchor their bases in Singapore.

Singapore may be a Little Red Dot, what she lacks in size is made up for in a relentless commitment to innovation and progress. With a limited domestic market, many Singapore-based companies are letting their ideas and brands take flight overseas. A say in shaping Singapore's economy, extensive global exposure, helping companies make their mark in the international arena – these steered both Adeline and Leslie towards IE Singapore.

"I had always wanted a direct opportunity to shape and chart Singapore's economic growth. As a Singaporean, it's always heartening to witness the success of Singapore companies in other regions – something that I now have a hand in," says Adeline.

Adding on, Leslie highlights the international exposure their work has given them. He tells us, "IE Singapore stood out because of the direct exposure its officers have to both local and foreign companies. Officers get to convene with C-suite executives and market leaders, which is an opportunity that many fresh graduates may not experience elsewhere."

A High-Powered Career

While exciting, bringing a business abroad requires plenty of market knowledge, resources and foresight – all of which IE Singapore has in its repository. Each year, IE Singapore helps over 30,000 local companies chart new growth and find success in overseas markets.

Apart from growing Singapore's international footprint, IE Singapore also actively promotes Singapore's position as a global trading powerhouse. Singapore's open economy, strategic geographical location, strong talent pool and trading infrastructure make it a prime destination for international trading firms looking for a global or regional base.

Meet Adeline Tay and Leslie Liang, two IE Singapore scholars who are boosting Singapore's success in internationalisation and trade. They share with us what drew them to IE Singapore, their pivotal role in driving our nation's external economy, and the opportunities they have received as scholars.

Adeline Tay

Adeline Tay 
IE Singapore Undergraduate (Overseas) Scholar

Manager, Tax Development Division, Ecosystem Development Group

"As a Singaporean, it's always heartening to witness the success of Singapore companies in other regions – something that I now have a hand in."

The Eyes and Ears of Businesses

As Manager with the Tax Development Division, Adeline is involved in policy design and development of Singapore's tax ecosystem. Her multi-faceted role sees her collaborating with other government agencies to shape policies encouraging home-grown brands to internationalise and foreign companies to set up bases in Singapore. This means keeping the tax ecosystem business-friendly and up-to-date with global trends and developments. On top of that, she also helps formulate strategies to grow Singapore as a thriving global trading hub.

Adeline also advises IE Singapore's frontline teams on their engagement with businesses. "Our work involves a lot of problem-solving and exploring new opportunities and solutions. This requires me to keep tabs on global developments and envisage their impact on our sector and partner companies. Often times, there are no model answers, so we have to consult with numerous stakeholders and take their interests into account. Whole-of-government discussions will even be held to find solutions for global issues or challenges," says Adeline.

As for Leslie, his role as Manager with the North America Division involves developing market strategies and providing market insights for local partner companies. On his role, he says, "Promoting the internationalisation of businesses is not easy. There is considerable cost and risk involved when venturing overseas. Companies can sometimes face uncertainty, especially amid events such as Brexit and the US presidential elections. It is our job to offer deep market insights and give them a true sense of what is happening on the ground."

Leslie Liang

Leslie Liang 
IE Singapore Undergraduate (Overseas) Scholar

Manager, North America Division, North America and Europe Group

"As an organisation with a global outlook, IE Singapore values global-minded officers with an enterprising spirit."

Empowering and Grooming Young Talents

At IE Singapore, officers are given opportunities to drive key projects and be involved in a spectrum of initiatives early in their careers. Upon joining the organisation, Adeline was part of a team studying Singapore's value proposition as a hub for international trading companies. She explains, "There isn't much literature out there detailing Singapore's important role in facilitating trading activities, especially in Asia. Hence, we decided to produce a comprehensive report to raise awareness of Singapore's position as a global trading hub and the ways in which Singapore's trade infrastructure facilitates the operations and growth of businesses."

Leslie also highlights that such project management opportunities are entrusted to IE Singapore scholars even before they join the organisation. During his undergraduate studies, Leslie did two internships at IE Singapore. During his first internship with IE Singapore's Europe desk, Leslie helped organise an incoming mission for European food companies to find Singaporean partners to bring Singapore's food concepts to Europe. For his second internship, Leslie was attached to the Infocommunications and Media Division, where he helped identify sustainable technology opportunities for Singapore businesses.

"The best part about internships is that you get to witness first-hand how different departments function within the organisation. The internships also primed me with valuable skills and became a launch pad for my career with the organisation," says Leslie.

For new entrants into the organisation, IE Singapore has in place the Global Executive Programme (GEP). The structured three-part programme gives young officers a firm understanding of the organisation, as well as hone their business acumen and financial knowledge. In the final phase of the programme, officers will visit one of IE Singapore's global network of over 35 overseas centres. Additionally, newcomers are assigned a buddy who will provide them with direction and guidance along the way.

Premised Upon Enterprise

For those enticed by the prospects at IE Singapore, Adeline and Leslie have some advice to share. "As an organisation with a global outlook, IE Singapore values global-minded officers with an enterprising spirit. You not only have to keep abreast of global events, you also have to find inventive solutions and explore new frontiers," says Adeline.

Leslie encourages aspiring IE Singapore scholars to develop a global mindset early. He says, "The world is a lot bigger than just Singapore or Asia. It extends to regions like Africa and Latin America, which are frontier markets brimming with opportunities. Don't just read the local news – aim to stay plugged into the rest of the world too. Once you have a better appreciation of the world, you will be able to see how different opportunities can be applied to businesses."