Doing business overseas can be difficult, especially in an unfamiliar market where you have limited market expertise and contacts. With its knowledge, insights and networks, International Enterprise (IE) Singapore helps over 30,000 local companies every year overcome these challenges and grow their international footprint.
IE Singapore also builds on Singapore’s position as a global trading hub to attract and anchor global trading companies in Singapore. This not only strengthens our trade ecosystem, but also boosts even more trade flows through Singapore.
IE Singapore scholar, Darren Lee, shares with us how his work drives Singapore’s economy and enables Singapore companies to shine on the global stage.
With a keen interest in the public service and the global marketplace, Darren applied for the IE Singapore Mid-Term Scholarship. This gave him the opportunity for two undergraduate internships with IE Singapore, where he experienced first-hand IE Singapore’s work in the global marketplace. Particularly memorable was his stint in Chengdu, China.
“The opportunity to do an overseas internship and witness the mechanics of international business and trade was very exciting! I supported the bilateral council for the Singapore Sichuan Trade and Investment Committee Meeting. It was particularly memorable and meaningful as I saw the mechanisms that Singapore established to strengthen trade and investments between both countries. Internationalisation is never an easy process and companies will require all the assistance they can get. The council is certainly a feasible avenue to assist our companies on this journey,” he recalls.
Apart from undergraduate internships, Darren has also benefited from a series of Global Executive Programmes (GEPs) that IE Singapore conducts to integrate new staff into their organisation. “These programmes provided me useful insights to the organisation and its vibrant work culture. There was even an in-market portion where I got to visit Ascendas in India to understand the challenges they faced. It is inspiring to hear how the project team overcame local challenges and executed the project. Again, it was another reminder that internationalisation involves stepping out of one’s comfort zone and understand the local context. The local view is crucial in identifying feasible solutions in overseas market,” Darren shares.
Darren Lee Cheng Loong
IE Singapore Mid-Term
A Dynamic Career Path
As the current centre director of IE Singapore’s Overseas Centre in Manila, Darren links Singapore-based companies with local partners to facilitate their business expansion in the Philippines. Besides having to understand the local market and regulatory framework, Darren connects Singapore companies to various local stakeholders and business contacts. His team also works closely with prospective Philippines-based companies that can strengthen Singapore’s status as a trading hub.
Even prior to this appointment, Darren’s career with IE Singapore has been a vibrant one, packed with opportunities to undertake different roles and experience different industries and markets. This helped him better understand the role IE Singapore played and gave him the exposure needed to develop his career.
“Given the broad nature of IE Singapore’s work, I learned to be quick on my feet in order to pick up the relevant expertise,” he explains.
In his previous role with the Transport & Logistics Division, Darren was in charge of the industry development of the e-commerce and fulfilment sector. Here he worked closely with senior level executives of high potential companies, advising companies on product offerings and market entry strategy. The team also worked closely with other government agencies and identified ways to streamline Singapore’s capabilities in the sector. “Being able to work with like-minded colleagues in other agencies was another highlight of my career. It is truly inspiring to know that we are all working towards a better Singapore.”
One of Darren’s most memorable moments during this career thus far, would be the launch of a project which helps companies in the e-commerce sector source for opportunities.
The process of bringing the project to life was challenging, one that required him to persevere, think fast and show tremendous initiative, but Darren is glad that he persevered and succeeded. Smiling with pride as he recalls the process, he says, “This project is to date, one of the most impactful and recognised project within IE Singapore!”
However, he is quick to add that he could not have completed this project, or come so far in his career, if not for his seniors and team mates at IE Singapore. He says, “Without their expertise, I would not have been able to pick up the necessary competencies fast enough to provide meaningful assistance. Thankfully, there is always someone who possesses the relevant expertise and is willing to help.”
Words of Advice
Darren advises students hoping to join IE Singapore to be receptive to new ideas and to be open to change. “Find your niche and work hard to excel in what you set your mind to. The culture at IE Singapore is extremely energetic and we are very willing to try different things and experiment with new ideas. If you think that you are up for the challenge, I would encourage you to apply for the IE Singapore scholarship. It will definitely stretch you, but will also give you an exciting career that many would only dream of,” he concludes.