Enterprise Singapore
Feature | Enterprise Singapore

Giving Growth New Meaning

Within Enterprise Singapore’s dynamic environment, scholars Michelle Tan and Chloe Chong find purpose, adventure and valuable opportunities to grow.
Enterprise Singapore

Left: Chloe Chong is an Assistant Development Partner at Enterprise Singapore. She has a Bachelor of Science in Politics and Economics from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a Master of Arts in International and Development Economics from Yale University.

Right: Michelle Tan is currently seconded to the Ministry of Trade and Industry as a Senior Assistant Director with the Futures, Strategy and Plans Division. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Economics from University College London and a Master of Arts in Political Science and Government from Columbia University.

At Enterprise Singapore, growth starts within.

Even as the agency champions the growth of Singapore businesses, it puts people development at the forefront by offering various opportunities for professional growth, from training programmes to mentorship initiatives.

Newly graduated scholars go through a Management Associate Programme that helps them gain a wealth of knowledge through exposure to markets and industries – as well as insight into personal strengths and weaknesses to build them for future roles, shares Chloe Chong, who is now Assistant Development Partner at Enterprise Singapore.

The experience not only helps in supporting businesses better, but also makes for an extremely rewarding career, according to Chloe and fellow scholar Michelle Tan, who is currently seconded to the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) as a Senior Assistant Director.

They tell us why they are passionate about the work at Enterprise Singapore and how no two days are ever the same.

Can you tell us about the work that you do at Enterprise Singapore? What is a typical day like?

Michelle: I’ve been with the agency since 2016 and am currently posted to MTI, our parent ministry, for strategic career development and exposure. Under MTI’s Futures, Strategy and Plans division, I lead a team that looks at managing resources effectively and efficiently across MTI and its agencies.

At Enterprise Singapore, I had stints with the Global Markets and Industry Cluster groups, where there was no such thing as a ‘typical day’ – no two days are ever the same!

While covering the Southeast Asia market, each day presented new and diverse challenges, which also grew into opportunities for growth. I picked up Bahasa Indonesia to engage with the Indonesian Investment Promotion Centre for government-to-government collaborations, brought Singapore businesses to Batam to explore the market, and worked closely with local and foreign companies to discuss opportunities in Indonesia. The diversity of work continued in my time with the Transport and Logistics team.

Chloe: I’m part of the Trade team which drives efforts to promote and maintain Singapore’s status as a global trading hub. We regularly engage with top regional and global energy commodity traders to anchor their international trading activities here.

To help Singapore-based traders deepen and expand their activities locally, I drive industry development initiatives from talent and innovation to catalysing partnerships between local and foreign firms to capture new growth opportunities regionally and beyond. I also develop strategies to establish Singapore as a carbon services and trading hub for the region.

What makes you passionate about your work?

Michelle: It’s the opportunity to contribute directly to the growth and development of businesses and entire ecosystems. Whether through the initiatives we lead or the partnerships we facilitate, it holds immense value.

I still remember when I shopped at a mall overseas during a family holiday once and came across Singapore-made products. Seeing some of the foreigners in my tour group buy and share how much they loved those items struck me with pride and amazement at how far our companies have come.

That was the first spark I experienced – the interest in putting Singapore’s offerings on the global map. Today, witnessing a company successfully secure a deal or complete a project with our support still gives me an unforgettable sense of accomplishment and joy.

I once worked together with colleagues based in our overseas offices to help a Singapore technology firm set up shop in Southeast Asia and Africa. From providing market information to facilitating business leads, we were closely involved in their internationalisation journey, and I’m glad that they are still present in those markets.

Chloe: I’ve been inspired by the tenacity of Singapore’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in achieving their global growth ambitions ever since I joined my school’s Entrepreneur’s Network as a student, which gave me the opportunity to engage with the local startup ecosystem and hone skills in business and entrepreneurship.

After joining Enterprise Singapore, I’ve also been able to see the impact of our work, particularly in strengthening Singapore’s value as a trading hub. For example, through the Global Traders Programme, we’ve attracted various traders to contribute to the vibrant ecosystem here and conduct wider business activities beyond trading. It’s significant because our strong trade links and connectivity to the rest of the world ensure Singapore remains globally relevant.

This gives me purpose, and I’m grateful to be entrusted with the responsibility of securing good jobs and economic opportunities for Singapore and its people.

What is your most memorable experience to date?

Michelle: Learning starts from day one. I vividly remember having a meeting with the CEO of one of the SMEs that we work closely with on the first day of work, and my manager was unable to join me for the meeting due to last-minute changes. It was nerve-wracking for a young officer, but also so exhilarating to be able to engage, take ownership of the work, and learn directly from the boss of an SME.

Another core memory is the work that we did during COVID-19 – I was part of the team that sought to secure supplies for Singapore. We worked day and night, endlessly, to ensure that Singaporeans had access to critical supplies. It wasn’t easy, but I am so proud of the team for working closely with firms and other public agencies to overcome the challenges.

Chloe: Scholars also go through our Management Associate Programme, and that has been a huge source of growth for me. Rotating across different teams and core business functions has given me better insight into my own strengths and weaknesses, along with valuable exposure to the diverse work we do.

I remember preparing for a ‘smart and green cities’ mission to the Philippines for Singapore companies during my stint with the Southeast Asia team. It involved engaging top conglomerates in the Philippines to understand their needs and opportunities for our companies to come in and add value. It taught me to see issues from multiple perspectives and explore new ways to leverage our internal strengths to solve them.

And it was very fulfilling when several leads were generated eventually, giving our companies the opportunity to take the leap into a new overseas market.

Both of you have shared a lot about personal and career growth. What helps you to keep growing at Enterprise Singapore?

Chloe: Teamwork. It’s critical to our work, which often requires collaboration across teams, regions, industries, and various stakeholders across public and private sectors.

Our strong collaborative culture sets us apart and I really appreciate how everyone is open to sharing new ideas and knowledge with one another. I’ve forged friendships with colleagues from across our culturally diverse organisation (both in HQ and overseas), many who I keep in touch with and learn from!

Michelle: I agree, we have an amazing work culture. People are willing to go the extra mile for one another and businesses. And there is a zeal for excellence that’s infectious across the organisation, which shows in the initiatives and policies we roll out.

What advice would you give to those interested in a career with Enterprise Singapore?

Michelle: Think about what excites you. If the prospect of cultivating Singapore’s economy, working with local enterprises, and the adventure of pursuing a global career excites you, then a career with us will definitely be rewarding.

Chloe: Approach your work with an entrepreneurial mindset. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new ideas to bring value to your industry!