Left: Low Shin Ler supports Singapore tech startups and SMEs in driving innovation and going global as Assistant Development Partner in the Global Innovation Network division at ESG. She is an Enterprise Singapore Global Executive Scholarship with a Bachelor of Science (Hons) Economics from University College London and a Master of Science in Management Science and Engineering from Columbia University.
Right: Reizo Ang builds trust in Singapore's products and services through quality and standards as Development Partner, Strategy and International Policy, in the Policy and Promotion division at ESG. He is an Enterprise Singapore Global Executive Scholar with a Bachelor of Business Administration (Hons), Finance Specialisation from the National University of Singapore.
From retail darling Love, Bonito to snack brand Old Chang Kee, Enterprise Singapore (ESG) is the driving force behind many a Singapore company looking to grow and go global.
In fact, ESG supports more than 15,000 businesses of all sizes every year. The key to this? A 1,000-strong team spanning 35 offices worldwide that not only works closely with Singapore enterprises to build capabilities, innovate and internationalise, but also designs initiatives to help them succeed.
Reizo Ang and Low Shin Ler, who are now part of that team thanks to the Enterprise Singapore Global Executive Scholarship, share what it's like to play a leading role in growing local companies, and their advice for those keen to join ESG.
It's interesting that both of you only applied for the Enterprise Singapore Global Executive Scholarship. What made you focus on this scholarship programme?
Reizo: When I was in the second year of junior college, my friends and I were browsing through the BrightSparks magazine for potential scholarships. There were numerous scholarships featured in the magazine, but I was only drawn to ESG's scholarship.
ESG's mandate of working with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to accelerate business growth and capture global opportunities struck a chord with me, as I have always been interested in entrepreneurship. So, applying for the ESG scholarship seemed the obvious choice.
Shin Ler: ESG stood out to me as an ideal place to begin my career because of its strong exposure and connections to international markets. The opportunity to work in ESG's Overseas Centres and interact with our foreign ecosystem partners really appealed to me. I was excited to cultivate a global acumen that would broaden my perspectives and deepen my grasp of complex global markets and interdependencies.
Now that you're in ESG, what are your roles and responsibilities like?
Reizo: Currently, as a member of ESG's Perceived Quality Taskforce, my team and I work to uncover critical quality attributes (such as sustainability, health and safety) for food products that drive customers' purchasing and market access decisions. Thereafter, we will work with food manufacturers to strengthen their business processes and offerings with those attributes in mind, so that they are poised to capture global opportunities.
I also work with my team to monitor new regulatory requirements, highlight potential opportunities, and disseminate regulatory information to relevant companies to support them in overseas expansion.
Shin Ler: I'm part of the Global Innovation Network (GIN) division, which aims to drive innovation among Singapore tech startups and SMEs and support them in going global. We partner overseas accelerators and government agencies to organise Global Innovation Alliance (GIA) market access and co-innovation programmes that help Singapore tech startups and SMEs enter key innovation hubs across the world. Currently, we have GIA programmes across 16 cities including London, Paris, Shanghai, Tokyo, San Francisco and Moscow.
How has the experience been so far?
Reizo: I'm grateful to be entrusted with the opportunity to shape Singapore's economy and play a part in creating good jobs for Singaporeans. It provides another layer of meaning to the work I do; it's also an additional source of motivation that tides me through peak periods at work.
Shin Ler: ESG has provided me invaluable exposure to different sectors and markets, as well as a twin perspective of both the public and private sectors. My career so far has been incredibly fulfilling – from addressing the needs and pain points of startups' overseas expansion efforts, to customising innovative strategies that help to foster collaboration between Singapore and other markets. Each day presents new challenges that empower me to think creatively and drive new initiatives.
What is your most significant career achievement to date?
Reizo: ESG's Quality and Standards 2025 plan, which I played a part in developing. In this five-year plan, we have outlined strategies to strengthen Singapore's Quality Infrastructure, as well as potential ways to leverage Singapore companies' quality-related credentials. These strategies will support companies in raising the quality of their offerings and accelerate business growth.
Shin Ler: Launching a pilot acceleration programme to Stockholm, which will help Singapore companies access business opportunities within the Nordic region. We conducted research on Sweden's innovation landscape and spoke to top accelerators in Stockholm to identify a strategy. These efforts eventually resulted in a partnership between ESG, two Swedish government agencies, and Epicenter, our chosen accelerator partner in Sweden.
How would you describe the culture in ESG?
Reizo: ESG has a very collaborative culture, and people here are open to new ideas. A culture of collaboration allows my colleagues and I to address information gaps and bounce off ideas with each other easily – by working together, we can address complex issues more quickly!
Shin Ler: ESG has a vibrant workplace culture with employees of diverse interests and expertise, but ultimately, we all share the same mission of growing Singapore enterprises. We have a supportive and growth-oriented environment that fosters learning and personal development.
What advice would you give aspiring scholars looking to join the organisation?
Reizo: Clarity, passion, and grit is what you need to have a fruitful career in ESG. Out of the three, clarity is of paramount importance. After all, one needs be very clear on the rationale behind one's recommendations and assessments in their work.
Shin Ler: One needs to be passionate about developing growth strategies and uncovering new business opportunities that will help Singapore companies scale new heights. Stay on top of market trends and take the initiative to create synergies and drive collaborations across business stakeholders.