GIC, as the Singapore Government’s fund manager, plays a key role in the nation’s economic defence. Today it manages more than US$100 billion globally across a wide range of assets, and aims to provide sustainable long-term returns above global inflation to preserve and enhance the international purchasing power of Singapore’s foreign reserves.
More than 1,300 employees manage our investments from our offices in Singapore, Beijing, London, Mumbai, New York, São Paulo, San Francisco, Seoul, Shanghai and Tokyo. GIC believes that people are their key asset in an increasingly complex global economic environment.
Two GIC Scholarship recipients, Lim Shi Min and Koh Zuo Ming, shed light on the opportunities available to aspiring scholars who are looking to follow in their footsteps.
Tell us about your role and responsibilities at work.
Lim Shi Min: As an Associate with the Enterprise Risk and Performance team, I help to analyse key risks to the GIC portfolio. This entails keeping abreast of current affairs, simulating possible risk scenarios and most importantly, estimating the downside impact of such scenarios. This requires a good understanding of the portfolio’s exposures and key risk factors. If the drawdown risks are significant, we will suggest mitigating actions. These risk analyses are seldom done individually and we often tap on one another’s expertise within GIC. In keeping with our investing principles, we prepare and do not predict.
As my team is expected to communicate our analysis to senior management, I also assist to prepare materials for meetings that help them better understand the key performance drivers and risks.
Koh Zuo Ming: I am based in New York as an Associate in the Private Equity Direct Investments Group. My responsibilities include analysing and modelling the financial and business performance of private equity targets and following the market for potential opportunities in the sectors I cover.
I also oversee the team’s deals pipeline and monitor the performance of the companies in our portfolio. In addition, as part of due diligence, I meet up with senior executives from potential investee companies and speak to market experts to learn more about the environments in which these companies operate.
Lim Shi Min
Associate, Enterprise Risk & Performance
What are some of the challenges you face at work?
Shi Min: The biggest challenge about managing risk, is that risk is incredibly difficult to describe, define, and much less quantify. Recently, we have had to analyse risks—such as Brexit—that differ significantly from any risk events that had happened in the past. It required us to think more critically and tap on new sources of data to better analyse risk.
Zuo Ming: The biggest challenge in private equity is finding the right company to invest in at the right price. In today’s environment, it is not easy to find reasonably-priced companies that are in growing markets, have an industry-leading position, and are likely to be able to weather a recession. Overcoming this challenge requires us to be opportunistic and nimble, but at the same time, we need to continue to be thorough in our due diligence and retain our commitment to being value-oriented investors. It is key is that we pursue true value, not price.
Koh Zuo Ming
Associate, Private Equity (North America)
Share with us some of the memorable episodes you have had in your career so far?
Shi Min: When I was in the GIC Professionals Programme during the first eight months of my career, I was rotated through three different departments. It was an intense period, but was also the most fun and memorable. One of my fondest memories occurred during my rotation with the Real Estate team. Although I was just serving my rotation, the team brought me to Jakarta on a business trip and gave me the experience of going up a building that was still under construction. Till now, I still remember the excitement when I put on the safety helmet and ascended the building in the rickety construction site elevator!
Zuo Ming: We were exploring an acquisition of a specialty retailer in December 2016. This company is the largest in the world, in its category. The seller wanted to complete the transaction by early 2017 and so we had to work over Christmas and New Year in order to meet the deadline. It was very intense, but within a few weeks, we were able to complete our due diligence, obtain approval from our investment committee, and submit a bid alongside our partner. You can only imagine our euphoria when we learnt that we had clinched the deal!
Any advice for those who are considering to follow in your footsteps?
Shi Min: Be willing to learn, no matter how cliché it sounds. Your academic achievements can only bring you that far in GIC. The market is a lot more dynamic and unpredictable than the school environment, and is in itself a great training ground to learn. Following that train of thought, it is also important to be adaptable and think critically when being presented with an unfamiliar problem.
Zuo Ming: Think beyond the sponsorship to study in a university abroad. Think longer term, and ask if you see yourself pursuing a career in finance. Does the idea of investing excite you? Do you like asking questions and finding answers about the world around you? Are you fascinated by financial markets and businesses? If you answer “yes” to all these questions, you may just be the person GIC is looking for.