S tability, efficiency, a strong multicultural talent base and comprehensive research network. These are just some of the things that companies can tap on when they establish their business in Singapore. A compass in guiding the nation for the future, the Economic Development Board (EDB) plays an integral part in establishing Singapore as a springboard for multinational companies to expand their business into Asia. Partly due to its business-friendly policies, Singapore has been made the No. 1 choice for the world’s top global companies to do business in the industrial goods and services sector, and among the top five countries for media and financial services.
EDB has a “Home for Business” strategy aimed at making Singapore an ideal base from which companies can drive the growth of their businesses. This goal of keeping companies deeply rooted in Singapore can prove to be quite a feat especially with the uncertain economic climate. This is why the driving force behind EDB – its body of employees – has to be of a resilient and zealous nature. As aptly summed up by EDB scholar Andrea Seow, an EDB officer is required to have “a strong passion for the industry, tenacity and the ability to work collaboratively with others to achieve a common vision.”
In university, Andrea pursued Economics following her interest in the field. She found herself fascinated by its real-world application and its ability to provide frameworks that can be used to systematically examine complex issues. Andrea chose UC Berkeley for its broad-based US education system and the strong reputation of its Economics programmes. To her delight, the course enabled her to even choose subjects outside of her course such as ‘Physics for Future Presidents’ and ‘Open Innovation and Entrepreneurship’.
Andrea decided to apply for the EDB scholarship after her internship with EDB. In her second year of undergraduate studies, she applied to and was selected for EDB’s eight-week summer internship programme. She viewed the internship as a good way to apply her knowledge gained from school to the workplace, as well as experience EDB’s work ethos – that of being a dynamic organisation that attracted not only people who were passionate about their work, but also of high calibre.
For her internship, Andrea was attached to the Energy and Chemicals Division in EDB. Besides understanding what EDB does on a daily basis, it gave her a glimpse into the training and development opportunities that staff could enjoy. She shares, “Besides getting a better understanding of EDB’s work, I learnt that there are professional development courses tailored to each stage of an officer’s career, and opportunities for an overseas posting in one of EDB’s 20 global offices after a few years in HQ. I was also enthused by the way EDB officers go about the complex and challenging work of shaping Singapore’s economic future with creativity and ingenuity.”
Centre Director, London
A Supportive Culture
Her internship and multi-faceted university education certainly helped her integrate into EDB’s environment. It also helps that EDB nurtures an open and supportive culture, crucial in helping fresh graduates mount the steep learning curve. Andrea tells us, “From day one, each new officer is assigned a buddy who has been in the job for one to two years. My buddy provided guidance and regularly checked to ensure I was on the right track.”
Emphasising EDB’s supportive culture, Andrea also shares that the Centre Directors in EDB’s San Francisco office took time to engage EDB scholars who were studying in the Bay Area, back when she was in university. Furthermore, while Andrea was on an exchange programme in Shanghai, the Assistant Managing Director for Global Operations took her out for lunch to find out about her university experience, and give her a glimpse of EDB’s work and culture.
These experiences with senior management and her internships have boosted her confidence, and allowed her to carry essential insights over to her current role. Today, Andrea is Centre Director in EDB’s London office – the first point of contact for UK companies looking to set up their operations in Singapore. Of her role, she explains, “I cultivate relationships with key executives to influence their investment decisions more favourably to Singapore, and encourage them to establish strategic business functions such as supply chain control towers in Singapore. I also seek feedback from these business executives on Singapore’s value propositions, and gather insights into the latest industry trends and developments.”
A Fulfilling Career
In addition to being EDB London’s Centre Director within three years in the organisation, Andrea has also immersed herself in countless of unforgettable experiences during her time at EDB.
For instance, she was involved in developing and launching the Renewable Energy Integration Demonstration-Singapore (REIDS) microgrid testbed on the Semaukau Landfill. This REIDS showcase aimed at attracting companies to partner Singapore in developing microgrid solutions to address market opportunities in Southeast Asia. “This project was a particularly memorable experience, as it had never been done before. It was thus a challenge to convince multiple companies and government agencies of the merits of the project. I am glad we managed to address their concerns, and it was particularly fulfilling to see the successful launch of the REIDS microgrid testbed,” Andrea muses.
Last year, she also had the opportunity to join in a meeting between EDB’s Chairman and the Chairman of a leading Biopharmaceutical company based in Europe. She shares, “It was heartening to hear a recognised leader frankly share his key concerns for the industry and even seek EDB’s views on what the company could do. This was testament to the high level of trust the company had in EDB, and the impact that EDB has as an industry developer.”
We asked Andrea for some advice on how to derive fulfilment at work, and received a simple yet empowering answer. She shares earnestly, “To enjoy your work, you must first figure out where your passion lies. Make full use of your time in school to explore opportunities, step out of your comfort zone, and expand your perspectives.”