GIC Private Limited
Feature | GIC

Banking On Real Assets: PEOPLE

GIC scholar Keisha Ong shows us how she has a hand in securing Singapore’s financial future at GIC.

Keisha Ong 
Bachelor in Government and Economics
– London School of Economics and Political Science, UK

THERE IS NEVER A DULL DAY AT GIC. As an Associate in the Real Estate department, a typical day is fairly wide-ranging. It could include site tours of physical assets such as office blocks, shopping malls or data centres. It could also involve meetings with a range of stakeholders, including C-suite executives, government officials, and industry experts to enhance our networks and informational edge in the realm of real estate investing.

GIC is truly global, with investments across diverse assets in over 40 countries. I travel regularly to key financial cities such as Seoul and Shanghai, to combine bottomup, on-the-ground perspectives with top-down regional or global trends to approach real estate investing.

Keisha Ong
AT GIC, we actively leverage technology and data to inform our investment decisions. One of the projects that I have really enjoyed contributing to is a big data study on retail malls in Shanghai. In China, we wanted to better understand the existence of dominant malls, the incremental importance of various transportation options and amenities, and how we define our catchment area and population. We found that our questions could be better answered through rigorous testing of data and development of models to sharpen our investment insights.

Another interesting aspect of Real Estate is that assets can be fairly commoditised. Data from public property listing sites, geolocation data, and statistics databases can all be useful in triangulating insights and solutions for our investment and asset management business.

As a junior in GIC, I am empowered to step out, step up, and make decisions. I have the opportunity to engage C-suite executives on strategy and management decisions, and to also contribute directly to investment decisions. The exposure that GIC offers is unparalleled.

Keisha Ong
APART FROM WORK, I really enjoy travelling and trying out new activities such as paragliding, bouldering, and zip-lining. Ever since I had the opportunity to study overseas in London, I have been relishing every travel opportunity. The change in landscape, as well as the new people that I met in either a commercial or leisure setting, have helped to broaden my world view and perspectives. Conversations in topics such as politics, classical music, and food can spice up everyday meetings and help to find common ground even amongst people from different backgrounds.

“Be comfortable with being uncomfortable.” Keisha

Keisha Ong
TAKING A SCHOLARSHIP IS A BIG DECISION, but it is also rewarding in many senses. As a scholar, I felt like I was part of the GIC family from day one, and I have so many mentors to thank for their invaluable advice given from my university days to today.

To aspiring scholars, I have one piece of advice to give: “Be comfortable with being uncomfortable.” In a dynamic industry like finance, you will never have the perfect solutions. You will be left with more questions than answers, and you must always test your deepest convictions. So wherein lies the appeal? Those same challenges will be sources of deep intellectual satisfaction and fun.