Lee Sheng Kiat is currently studying Finance and Economics at Tsinghua University under the OCBC Regional Undergraduate Scholarship.
At OCBC, banking goes beyond dollars and cents. Its purpose is to help individuals and businesses across communities achieve their aspirations by providing innovative financial services that meet their needs.
One of OCBC's values - Lasting Value - focuses on long-term value creation for the shareholders, customers, people and the communities it serves. This is exemplified in the OCBC Regional Undergraduate Scholarship. The award represents a bigger platform from which OCBC gives back to the people that enabled its success and nurtures future leaders who will carry on those achievements.
Lee Sheng Kiat is one such individual. He is now studying Finance and Economics at Tsinghua University. As part of the scholarship, he enjoys internship opportunities with OCBC Banks in the region and will be given a shot at joining the highly-coveted Graduate Talent Programme when he graduates.
Deciding to take up OCBC's scholarship
"Besides the OCBC Regional Scholarship, I also signed up for several other scholarships. However, after I received the offer from OCBC, I decided to withdraw my other applications," replied Sheng Kiat, when asked about his scholarship considerations.
His decision was prompted by a positive impression of the offer, shared with him by fellow OCBC Regional Scholar Larry Ng Joong Hwee, a senior who studied at Peking University.
There were practical advantages as well. "First of all, the regional scholarship supports students who are currently studying or enrolled in universities outside of their country of citizenship. There were not many private sector organisations that were offering such an opportunity."
"Moreover, OCBC is a reputable organisation in the finance industry which is looking to expand its business in the Greater China region. It has more than 470 branches and representative offices in 19 countries and region."
"This created a highly synergistic fit for me, in terms of allowing me to apply what I will be learning in university, in a field that was highly related with my interest."
Pursuing an Education in Financial Studies and Life Skills
However, university proved a bumpy ride for Sheng Kiat. The pandemic had set in and he was unable to travel to Beijing, but the enterprising scholar used this as an opportunity for further learning and growth.
Although lockdown measures meant he was unable to attend classes in-person, rather than regret the loss of a "university experience," he chose to put his time to better use taking up a part time job at an F&B establishment, helping to organise events with a social enterprise and doing an internship with OCBC outside his school hours.
"These were avenues for me to not only hone and sharpen my knowledge, but also to build up other competencies like interpersonal skills," he concluded.
"As much as studies are important, it is also important to capitalise on opportunities to develop ourselves holistically by actively taking on other challenges."
A Meaningful Internship Experience
The internship in particular proved great gains for him, as OCBC entrusted him with exploring new concepts for products, drawing up new product parameters and mechanics, and even taking care of a new product approval process (NPAP).
"Having been able to help the team kick start the whole NPAP process and setting them on the right track definitely takes the cake," said Sheng Kiat, when asked about his biggest career achievement yet. "Despite being an intern, I was able to experience first-hand how the process is conducted, and help contribute to this crucial process in getting the product approved for launch."
Assisting him in his learning and development were friendly colleagues happy to help the fresh intern. "It felt like I was going to work with friends, or even family."
"[OCBC] is a place where I know that my effort would not go unrecognised and as long as I am willing to put in the work, I will be able to get opportunities to do more. This creates a truly motivating environment."
Going Further with OCBC
The OCBC Regional Undergraduate Scholarship scholar mused on three must-have qualities to excel in the banking and finance industry - dedication, humility and integrity.
"Being in the finance industry, we are always thinking of how to earn the trust of our customers, our partners, our colleagues, and our superiors. From there, a crucial element in building trust is integrity."
"Also, working at a well-established organisation like OCBC takes dedication and humility. There are definitely challenges that come with being part of an elite company which is at the forefront of change-making, and I think it takes mental fortitude and conviction to be able to push through all of the potential challenges we might face."
For prospective scholars, Sheng Kiat advised: "This organisation will provide you opportunities to build a meaningful career and a platform for you to find your calling, as long as you have conviction and dedication, and are willing to put in the effort."