In today’s globalised world, countries and companies can no longer rely solely on their domestic economy. In order to achieve sustainable growth, Singapore and her businesses must look abroad for new growth opportunities. To do so, IE Singapore works with businesses in a wide range of industries to furnish them with the knowledge and support they need to become globally competitive.
As an organisation with a global outlook, IE Singapore also recognises the importance of promoting Singapore as a flourishing business and trade hub with strong ties to international commerce and trade.
The success stories of tomorrow’s global economy will be told by those with the resilience, acumen and connections to chart a growth story that spans nations. IE Singapore aims to capitalise on Singapore’s success in trade and internationalisation in building the Singapore brand abroad and ensuring that Singapore remains an attractive place to trade and do business.
To help it achieve its mission, IE Singapore continues to seek promising young individuals who are passionate about the global economy. IE Singapore scholars Serene Zhang and Chan Wai Kit, both 28, tell us how they are working to bolster Singapore’s standing as a premier global trading nexus and turn local companies into the global success stories of tomorrow.
Establishing a Global Trading Hub
As Manager of the Trade Services Division, Serene plays a key role in reviewing policies and developing strategies to promote Singapore as a trading hub. She elaborates, “In addition to trade policy, I also deal with talent development in the trade industry. As Singapore is an established trading centre, it is important to ensure that the industry continues to have access to a sufficient and high-quality talent pool.
Serene Zhang Xinrui
IE Singapore Undergraduate Scholar (Overseas)
Designation: Manager, Trade Services Division, Trade Services and Policy Group
Studied: Master of Arts in International and Development Economics, Yale University, US
Bachelor of Science in Economics,
London School of Economics, UK
“As part of our development of sectoral manpower strategies, I work with international trading companies to formulate solutions that will meet their manpower needs now and in the future. For instance, I collaborate with local educational institutions, such as the International Trading Institute in the Singapore Management University, to come up with training programmes to equip students with the skills to join the trade industry.”
She says earnestly, “I am glad to be able to provide good jobs and opportunities for Singaporeans of all backgrounds. And given the Government’s recent emphasis on employable skills over paper qualifications, I am also working with various ministries to find ways to provide jobs for polytechnic and Institute of Technical Education graduates in the trade industry.”
Bringing Local Companies Abroad
IE Singapore also provides industry-specific support to local firms seeking opportunities abroad. On Wai Kit’s end, he facilitates the overseas expansion of companies in the environmental solutions industry as Manager of the Environmental Solutions Division. Wai Kit assists environmental solutions companies in their internationalisation efforts by meeting with them and providing them with the support, contacts and exposure they require.
He shares, “I work with a variety of local firms, ranging from large corporations such as Hyflux and Sembcorp to a range of small-and-medium enterprises. I have also had opportunities to travel abroad with our partner companies in order to facilitate their access to overseas markets.
“I recall helping a bioenergy firm secure a major project in the US that was vital to their prospects there. It was really fulfilling to be able to contribute to the growth of Singapore’s external economy and build up relations and understanding with key decision-makers in local firms. And when these firms come to trust us to help them grow their business, it makes the whole process even more gratifying!”
As part of IE Singapore’s talent development programme, officers are encouraged to rotate to different divisions to understand the full breadth of its operations. Wai Kit is in the process of transitioning to his new role in the West China Division of the China Group, where he will help formulate business strategies and open doors for companies to West China. He says enthusiastically, “I look forward to being exposed to many more industries. I can now use my experience with the environmental solutions industry to help companies across a range of industries enter the West China market.”
An Early Head-Start
Prior to joining IE Singapore, Serene and Wai Kit enjoyed a variety of internship opportunities as undergraduates. This prepared them for what to expect upon joining the organisation. The time they spent abroad has also equipped them with unique views and fresh global perspectives that they are able to bring to their work in IE Singapore.
Chan Wai Kit
IE Singapore Undergraduate Scholar (Overseas)
Designation: Manager, Environmental Solutions Division, Environment & Infrastructure Solution Group
Studied: Master of Arts in Regional Studies,
Harvard University, US
Bachelor of Law (International Politics),
Peking University, China
“I took up a 10-week internship at one of IE Singapore’s overseas centres in Shanghai, China, where I got to meet representatives of Singaporean firms and members of the Chinese government. It was truly an eye-opening experience as I gained a clearer understanding of the work that IE Singapore does,” Serene tells us.
A Passion for the Global Economy
Looking back on her time as an IE Singapore scholar, Serene is quick to emphasise the importance of believing in IE Singapore’s mission. She says, “Aspiring scholars should possess a genuine interest in global business and trade. It’s also a good idea to apply for an internship at IE Singapore before applying for the scholarship – that can really help you decide if this path is for you!”
On Wai Kit’s part, he highlights the good exposure to both the Public and Private sectors that the IE Singapore scholarship offers. He concurs with Serene’s sentiments, saying, “You’ll need to believe in IE Singapore’s mission to promote trade and grow Singapore’s external economy. There’s so much to look forward to at IE Singapore – I myself hope to eventually become a Centre Director at one of our overseas offices – and your passion for the global economy will help you make the most out of all these opportunities.”