Today, there are over 180,000 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Singapore. Together, they employ almost 70-percent of the workforce and contribute to nearly half of the country’s gross domestic product.
SPRING Singapore takes pride in supporting these firms and journeying with them through the challenges and successes. The role of enabling enterprises is most rewarding and far reaching when SMEs are able to overcome business challenges. Through various sources of help available, SMEs are able to scale-up and grow through upgrading their capability and forging collaborations with like-minded partners.
Neha Gandhi, recipient of the SPRING Executive Development Scholarship (EDS), shares her experience with the organisation and how she takes on her role in helping businesses pave the way to success.
A Passion for Business
Joining SPRING Singapore appealed to Neha because of the nature of its work that deals with businesses and entrepreneurs. In the longer term, Neha aspires to either start or lead a business entity and she was on the lookout for learning opportunities that would equip her with the necessary business acumen skills.
This passion for enterprise, coupled with her strong communication abilities stood out to SPRING Singapore, and scored her a chance for the SPRING EDS scholarship. In her own words, “it was a perfect fit!”
Today, Neha is a manager at SPRING Singapore’s Enterprise Services and Partnership Team. Her primary goal is to identify potential obstacles which may impede SME’s success, and to develop the necessary solutions to help overcome those hurdles.
Part of her job entails structuring and nurturing partnerships with multiple parties, which include SMEs, trade associations and chambers, centres for innovation and financial institutions. She also monitors the different programmes and channels available to SMEs - to help ensure these policies constantly evolve with the business landscape and remain relevant to SME needs.
SPRING EDS Scholar
Manager (Enterprise Services and Partnership)
Bachelor of Business Management from SMU (Magna Cum Laude)
Bridging study and work life
Neha believes the EDS scholarship was crucial in equipping her with the skills needed to transit from student to working life. During her undergraduate days, she interned with SPRING Singapore’s Quality and Excellence Group, in one of the teams that look into the Business and Service Excellence. Its aim is to help organisations improve their performance based on internationally benchmarked framework and to raise service standards.
She was delighted that over the course of her internship, she was able to accompany a team of professional assessors over a three-day period to review companies for the Singapore Quality Award.
This award is given to organisations who have demonstrated outstanding performance. This gave Neha the opportunity to not just learn about exemplary business practices, but to also meet and hear from the leaders of these organisations. “I also gained valuable insights from networking with the professional awards assessors, who shared their experiences working with establishments who have excellent business practices,” she recalls.
Under the scholarship, Neha also spent a semester at Maastricht University’s School of Business and Economics in the Netherlands. It was truly a unique experience for her as unlike the seminar-styled education in Singapore, the university adopted student-led approach instead. Each week, classes would be conducted not by teachers, but by a group of students – with facilitators on hand to assist when needed.
In addition, being based in the Netherlands afforded her the time to visit neighbouring European cities and learning about the different histories and industries. This too has helped to quickly broaden her perspectives, taking away valuable lessons for life and for work.
An Attitude for Excellence
Training aside Neha’s can-do spirit, openness and being proactive helps her make the best of her experiences at work.
She admits that at times, it can be difficult to balance the interests of SPRING with that of the partners she supports. However, she believes this can be overcome by consciously taking the perspective of the different stakeholders into consideration objectively, and making the effort to gain their trust.
In her first year with SPRING Singapore, for example, she was tasked with managing the business operations for LicenceOne. This is a platform which allows companies to apply for business licenses across government agencies. She rose to the challenge, learning about the full spectrum of project management skills, from the operations, vendor management, internal stakeholder management, financial management and to its marketing communications. In doing so, she forged firm relationships both within SPRING Singapore and across the different government agencies involved. “It is both challenging and satisfying to work towards achieving win-win outcomes!” she affirms.
Beyond work, Neha is also a member of the yoga and running interest groups in SPRING. Additionally, as a member of the SPRINGCares Green committee, she helps the company organise nature walks, recycling and up-cycling initiatives as well as quizzes for its entire staff. When asked why she does it, she explains, “engaging in such activities contributes to the holistic development and well-being of the staff and ascertains good work-life balance. Through my involvement in the various activities, I have made many new friends within the SPRING family.”
When asked about the future, she says, “the work that SPRING does is very diverse, spanning across industries, capability areas and growth stages of enterprises. I look forward to exploring various other areas within SPRING, and further honing my collaborative project management skills.”