With Asia emerging as the new centre of global business and transformation, businesses and talents are increasingly looking to the East to set up new bases for growth. Situated in a prime geographic location in the heart of Asia, Singapore’s global connectivity and business-friendly policies make the city-state an attractive place for many of the world’s top firms from both G3 and emerging economies.
By articulating and implementing comprehensive strategies to meet the needs of businesses, EDB takes the lead in positioning Singapore for the future of a global economy centred in Asia. And with EDB at the helm of the Singapore economy, Singaporeans can expect to benefit from the deepening strategic activities and investments of companies which hope to drive their business, innovation and talent objectives in Asia and beyond.
Growing the Singapore Economy from Abroad
29-year-old EDB Scholar Law Yi Chung is glad to be able to make a positive impact on Singapore’s economy. He says, “A scholarship and career with EDB offers the best of many worlds – I enjoy interactions with key leaders in the private and public sectors on a regular basis, and the promise of job rotations including global postings add to my personal and career development. Most importantly, I have the opportunity to make a meaningful difference to the future of Singapore and the careers of Singaporeans.”
Now a Centre Director at EDB’s office in Zurich, Switzerland, Yi Chung oversees EDB’s international efforts in Switzerland and Italy, home to some of the most famous corporate names in the world such as Nestle, pharmaceutical giants Roche and Novartis and even Ferrari.
Law Yi Chung
Designation: Centre Director (Zurich),
based in Zurich, Switzerland
Studied: Master of Philosophy in Bioscience Enterprise, University of Cambridge, UK
Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering
and French, Johns Hopkins University, US
“As Centre Director, I am the first point of contact for companies from a variety of industry sectors who are contemplating setting up operations in Singapore. I cultivate relationships with executives from multiple levels and divisions in these companies and influence them to consider strategic functions which they can establish in Singapore,” Yi Chung elaborates.
“It is through these conversations and discussions with companies that I gain additional insights, which help in strengthening our overall strategy to engage Swiss and Italian firms.”
Yi Chung is not yet 30 and is already a step ahead of his peers, having enjoyed a host of enriching opportunities and experiences at EDB. He says, smiling, “I enjoy the autonomy that comes with this posting as I am the only person from EDB based in Zurich. I appreciate the autonomy to craft strategies and develop and execute an appropriate engagement plan.
“To add on, I’ve had the privilege of meeting with top corporate and public leaders and entrepreneurs. From listening in to discussions between Singapore’s Prime Minister and top business executives on geopolitical issues to participating in discussions with Chief Executive Officers of start-ups who hope to utilise some of the most cutting-edge and game-changing technology developed in renowned institutions like EPFL and ETH – each of these experiences has helped sharpen my perspectives.”
A Blazing Career Path
When asked for specifics on how he feels he has helped contribute to Singapore’s economy, Yi Chung lights up immediately. He shares, “I started out as a Senior Officer in the Biomedical Sciences Industry Development Group. A large pharmaceutical company expressed interest in setting up its first Asian manufacturing site and mentioned that its top executives wanted to meet EDB and do a feasibility study of Singapore.
“As my colleague in-charge of that account was away at the time, I stepped in to arrange their meetings with EDB, potential industry partners and educational institutions to help them assess Singapore’s suitability as a manufacturing site. Because of the speed of discussions, I did more than just facilitate meetings – I worked late into the night with my managers to identify and propose desirable activities that the company could undertake here, and discussed with the executives how EDB could help make their venture a reality.”
He recalls, “After that visit, it still took another nine months of discussions before the company decided to invest in Singapore. This company was Amgen, one of the founders of the biotechnology industry and one of the world’s most prestigious firms. Generations of EDB officers had courted the company over the decades, and I was happy to have helped finally bring them on board!”
Yi Chung emphasises that fresh graduate officers are empowered and given ample opportunities to offer input and play a role in shaping strategy. “I joined EDB just as we were in the midst of an ongoing incentive negotiation with a large US pharmaceutical company. New as I was, I was given the opportunity to participate in the discussions. Of course, I was fortunate to have a good work buddy who helped guide me through my initial experiences until I was confident to work on my own,” he says.
Yi Chung has certainly come a long way since then. His experiences thus far have equipped him with the ability to think ahead and deal with high-stakes and high-pressure situations, qualities that are vital to his current role as Centre Director (Zurich). His work in Switzerland and Italy has afforded him with unique insights and a valuable sense of cultural awareness that is only too valuable to EDB, given its global outlook and international operations.
He explains, “Businesses closely reference one another’s strategies and behaviour, and changes in business sentiments in one country could signal a wider change in the region. For example, companies in Switzerland, Italy and Germany are intricately linked across political borders. Chemicals in Germany are shipped by Swiss logistics providers through the Alps to Italy where they are turned into automotive components by Italian craftsmen, who then re-export them back to the big automotive companies in Germany.
“A Centre Director needs to keep up with changes in the region, maintain an outlook on industry developments and macroeconomic trends, and eventually translate these into potential economic and business opportunities for Singapore.”
A Rewarding Career
EDB officers are dynamic and excellent team players who are able to adapt quickly to changing situations. “My colleagues are energetic and like-minded individuals with an unwavering commitment to delivering excellent results and achieving a common goal. They’ve also become my friends as we work together to build a bigger and better Singapore economy,” Yi Chung says enthusiastically.
“It is immensely rewarding to watch your relationship with your company partners and business executives evolve. When companies eventually come to trust us as a partner in developing solutions for their businesses, implementing these solutions and coordinating with multiple institutions to ensure success, I am reminded why I chose EDB in the first place,” he declares.
“Above all, the knowledge that my fellow Singaporeans are benefiting from my efforts keeps me going throughout all the challenges I may face. The opportunity to speak with Singaporeans who have benefited from the jobs created by my team and listen to how they are happy with their career prospects makes the long nights of hard work all worth it!”