Left: Grace Teo helps
change mindsets in the
project logistics industry as
an Assistant Development
Partner, Transport &
Logistics. She is a Global
Executive Scholar (Local),
and holds a Bachelor of
Maritime Studies with
Business from Nanyang
Right: Toh Ghee Wei helps companies in the hospitality and real estate space thrive internationally in his role as Assistant Development Partner, Infrastructure Services. He is a recipient of the Global Executive Scholarship (Overseas) and holds a Bachelor of Arts from Columbia University in New York, as well as a Master of Science in Global Governance and Diplomacy from Oxford University.
Initially, Toh Ghee Wei, 26, was drawn to Enterprise Singapore (ESG) by the prospect of immersing himself in different markets and helping Singapore companies expand overseas. “I joined the organisation because I was convinced that we need to internationalise our economy.”
Grace Teo, 24, also had personal motivations in joining ESG. Having run her own e-commerce business during her Junior College days, she is familiar with the challenges of being an entrepreneur.
The duo now strive to play a bigger role in helping local companies build their core competencies, and grow locally as well as abroad.
Ghee Wei is an Assistant Development Partner at ESG’s Infrastructure Services. His current responsibilities place a heavy emphasis on sector development in the field of real estate and hospitality. Likewise for Grace, Assistant Development Partner for the Trade & Logistics division, her responsibilities involve understanding her sectors’ pain points, formulating solutions, and studying their effectiveness.
Caring for Businesses Big and Small
As a frontline agency, ESG interacts with policy and public alike. Operational challenges aside, the two officers also have to engage multiple stakeholders and find solutions for developmental challenges.
Ghee Wei credits ESG’s Management Associate Programme (MAP) three-rotation structure for providing the necessary exposure. “If you do one stint in the industry clusters to work with businesses directly, one in the middle office which looks at policies, and then a third overseas, it gives you a very comprehensive understanding of how ESG’s mission plays out operationally across the organisation. This multifaceted perspective helps you navigate stakeholders,” he says.
“The bulk of the work is getting your hands dirty, trying to figure out where the company is coming from, what their needs are, and then directing them to the relevant help. To be willing to do that is the less glamorous part of the job, but I think it is one of the most important,” adds Ghee Wei.
Grace concurs. “I know how difficult it is to be an entrepreneur. Knowing what ESG (then-SPRING Singapore) does to help local SMEs grow their footprint domestically, it felt very meaningful and impactful to help an enterprise stand on its own two feet and grow,” she says.
Opportunity is The Best Teacher
While Ghee Wei and Grace operate in vastly different sectors, they agree that you don’t need a business degree or background in entrepreneurship to thrive at ESG.
“You don’t need to be an entrepreneur to be innovative or creative. You just need to be excited about business opportunities in order to create synergies and collaboration. You need to always be mindful about what opportunities are out there and think about how mutual collaborations can be put into motion,” Grace says.
It certainly was the case for Ghee Wei: A Bachelor of Arts degree and a Master of Science in Global Governance and Diplomacy is not what we would typically expect from someone working on infrastructure development, but he explained that the broad-based skills lend themselves well to his line of work. For example, philosophy teaches analytical thinking and clarity of thought; skills he found particularly useful in assessing grants, which requires nuance to evaluate fairly. His specialisation in history, and global imperial history, in particular, has helped him develop a global-minded viewpoint and the sense to look out for macro trends and understand how they affect the present, which is especially useful in assessing business environments.
“I think a lot of our analysis can be very short term if you’re only looking at a three- to five- year period, but history gives you another depth of understanding; because you look at economic history, you look at structures and how that shapes the business environment, so there’s additional insight to be gained there,” he adds.
Likewise, Grace had decided to follow her interest in Maritime Studies. “In Maritime Studies, basically what we do is to understand the shipping world, to understand the commercial trade, to understand how the port works and also to learn about the logistics sector. It also provided me with the knowledge and education about how the industry is because the sector is very niche in terms of the jargon they use,” she says. “It helped speed up my ability to communicate with the companies we engage with.”
Ghee Wei is looking forward to the challenges at ESG. Not only has the MAP and supportive colleagues helped him to develop a good foundation, but he has also since gained greater clarity about the organisation, his strengths and weaknesses, and the opportunities for growth that lie ahead.
Grace is excited for the many learning opportunities that have already come her way thus far. She hopes to either join the middle office to support the sector by strategising and providing the right tools, or the Global Markets division, which works directly with the respective markets so she can gain a better understanding on a global scale and perhaps find business opportunities for companies back home.
But the most important quality that you do need to have, according to them, is the desire to help Singaporean companies, big or small, succeed. “Because without which, it’s very hard to even know why you are doing this job,” says Grace.