JTC Corporation
Feature | JTC Corporation

Elevating Singapore’s Competitive Edge

JTC is at the forefront of shaping Singapore’s future through meticulous urban planning and fostering industrial growth. At the heart of this mission is JTC Scholar Joanne Tho Qian Hui who is strongly motivated to make a positive impact on the nation’s economic endeavours.

Joanne Tho Qian Hui graduated from the London School of Economics and Political Science with a Bachelor of Science (Economics) and from Columbia University in the United States with a Master of Science (Business Analytics). She was also a recipient of the JTC Full-Term Scholarship. Today, she is the Assistant Manager at JTC's Energy Department.

Joanne Tho Qian Hui’s passion for Economics was ignited during her time in junior college when she realised that it held the key to unravelling the intricacies of our world. Economics, as she eloquently puts it, opened her eyes to the profound connections between a nation’s economic foundation and the resulting policies of its government.

Joanne’s deep-seated fascination for understanding the world eventually led her to apply for the JTC Full-Term Scholarship, a decision that would shape her academic and professional path. With the support of the scholarship, Joanne pursued a Bachelor of Science in Economics from The London School of Economics (LSE) and then further honed her skills with a Master of Science in Business Analytics from Columbia University in the United States.

This educational foundation, paired with her enduring determination to fortifying our nation’s economy, has enabled Joanne to thrive in her role as Assistant Manager in the Energy Department at JTC, where she has consistently demonstrated her finesse and dedication.

Could you tell us about your interest in Business Analytics and Economics and how it shaped your personal journey?

I loved Economics in junior college as it helped me make sense of the world. It opened my eyes to things, for instance, the circumstances underpinning Singapore’s economy which led to government policies that were very different from those in, say, the United States or the United Kingdom. Studying H3 Economics exposed me to more complex concepts than H2, and I was hooked. This led me to pursue an undergraduate degree in Economics at LSE.

In my second year at LSE, I developed a keen interest in Econometrics, which uses mathematical methods to test hypotheses in Economics. Wanting to develop my technical skillset in statistics and analytics, I pursued a postgraduate degree in Business Analytics at Columbia University.

What made you seize the opportunity to take up a scholarship with JTC?

As an aspiring Economics major, I wanted a career that would contribute to Singapore’s economy. I was drawn to JTC because it’s a statutory board under the Ministry of Trade & Industry (MTI). JTC is Singapore’s master planner of industrial spaces, uniquely positioned between government and industry to drive economic growth by facilitating good businesses to set up shop in Singapore. I was also attracted to JTC as it is a large organisation with many different roles and functions, offering opportunities for rotations.

I did a pre-university internship with JTC before accepting their scholarship offer. As the scholarship required a bond, I wanted to be sure of my career choice before signing on the dotted line. The internship gave me a better understanding of JTC’s work and culture and helped me make up my mind about accepting the scholarship.

“Helping companies, from local SMEs to global MNCs, do business in Singapore is definitely the most meaningful aspect of my job. Additionally, the work I do helps make Singapore a competitive destination for good businesses to operate from – which is especially rewarding.” Joanne Tho Qian Hui

Fascinating! And how has the scholarship aided you in your academic endeavours?

The financial support that the scholarship provided allowed me to pursue opportunities which I might have otherwise given up due to cost concerns. The clearest example of this would be the opportunity to pursue both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in London and New York, respectively.

Such opportunities were also key in helping me discover my passions and strengths. For example, in the summer of my second year, I was able to attend summer school at Peking University in Beijing and study data analytics. This was my very first foray into coding and data analytics, and my overwhelmingly positive experience pointed me towards eventually pursuing a Master’s in Business Analytics at Columbia University.

More than that, it provided me with some stability. I was in my second semester at Columbia University in New York when COVID-19 happened. Amid the uncertainty, I was offered support from JTC’s Human Resources Division. They made sure that all the overseas scholars were doing well. I appreciated that I was given the choice of returning to Singapore or staying in NYC to complete my studies. Due to time zone concerns, I eventually chose the latter. Looking back, experiencing a pandemic and lockdown while living abroad helped me become even more resilient and independent.

Please share what your day-to-day entails.

My typical workday involves talking to companies and understanding their industry and business, managing their leases, working with other agencies like the Economic Development Board (EDB) and Enterprise Singapore (ESG) to bring investments and new projects into Singapore, linking up industrial enablers with companies to foster collaboration, and building business ecosystems.

Helping companies, from local SMEs to global MNCs, do business in Singapore is the most meaningful aspect of my job. Additionally, the work I do helps make Singapore a competitive destination for such good businesses to operate from – which is especially rewarding.

Tell us about a particularly memorable moment at work.

One of my earliest assignments was to assist a local engineering company, which provided skilled services for the marine and petrochemicals industry to find a new factory site to expand its operations. When I visited this company’s premises, the owners gave me a tour of their facilities and shared with me all about the large-scale engineering projects they helped bring to life in Singapore and the region. The passion and pride these SME owners had for their trade was truly inspiring.

Joanne Tho Qian Hui

Joanne Tho Qian Hui

That’s wonderful! What’s the work culture like at JTC?

I love my team! Being a team player is a big part of working at JTC. The culture here is very collaborative across the different levels - you can always bring ideas and suggestions to the table for discussion with your bosses. In that sense, although JTC is an organisation with a traditional structure, it doesn’t feel very hierarchical.

Lastly, do you have any advice for those who are thinking about entering your field?

If you are keen to contribute to Singapore’s economy and are interested in how industrial spaces contribute to good businesses or enjoy working with both the private and public sectors to bring projects to life, this job may be exactly what you are looking for!