Left: Germaine Seng helps fintech and cybersecurity companies thrive in her role as Assistant Development Partner, ICT & Media. She is a Global Executive Scholar (Mid-Term), and holds a Double Degree in Business Management and Economics from Singapore Management University, as well as a Master in Management Science and Engineering from Columbia University in New York.
Right: Habib Muhammed develops, manages and supports accreditation schemes as an Accreditation Officer under the Quality & Excellence Group. He is a Global Executive Scholar (Mid-Term) and holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Bioengineering) with Honours from Nanyang Technological University.
While most students decide on their scholarships before embarking on their tertiary studies, there’s a lot to be said for the mid-term option, which offers a later application date and a shorter bond. However, not all organisations offer mid-term scholarships or the more accommodating timelines that go along with them.
Enterprise Singapore (ESG), the government agency that champions enterprise development, stands out in this area. The ESG Global Executive Scholarship – which welcomes applicants from all courses of study – places individual choice and commitment at a premium.
ESG’s scholarships are offered in two annual cycles (October and February), granting prospective applicants greater flexibility in deciding on a career path. While pre-university students who want a head start can apply for the Global Executive Undergraduate Scholarship, a mid-term option is available to existing undergraduates currently pursuing their university degrees.
Making An Informed Decision
When it came to mid-term scholars Habib Muhammed, 28, and Germaine Seng, 25, choosing to commit to a career at ESG did not require a vast leap of faith. The later application period gave them the opportunity to undertake internships at ESG first and get a feel of the organisation’s actual work, before applying for the Global Executive Mid-Term Scholarship.
For Habib, who holds a bachelor’s degree in Bioengineering, he was inspired by the dedication of the ESG colleagues he had met on his internship at Intellectual Property Intermediary (IPI), a subsidiary of ESG.
“The officers I interacted with were down-to-earth and had a good understanding of the sectors they were in. Their expertise and passion in assisting companies spurred me to want to work for ESG,” he said.
Similarly, Germaine’s experience interning with ESG’s Transport & Logistics division cemented her resolve to take the plunge and sign up for a bonded scholarship.
“The mid-term scholarship provided me opportunities I could not easily find elsewhere – namely the chance to pursue my master’s degree, and also secure a job in a statutory board I was confident I would want to work in,” said Germaine, who graduated with a double degree in Business Management and Economics, and a Master in Management Science and Engineering.
Supporting Companies through Thick And Thin
Today, Germaine and Habib are in the thick of exactly what they set out to do at ESG – closely engaging Singapore companies, understanding their needs, and formulating strategies to help them grow domestically and internationally.
As an Assistant Development Partner at ESG’s ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) & Media division, Germaine works with fintech and cybersecurity companies and assists them in building capabilities, innovating, and overseas expansion.
Her role has since allowed her to develop a more critical grasp of the business landscape in Singapore, and how companies of all sizes function. “Understanding the value proposition of these companies and why certain business models work is intriguing – it’s like seeing real-life applications of what I’ve learnt in school,” she said.
On the other hand, helping companies attain the gold standard for their products and services is a mission Habib is deeply committed to.
His current position as an Accreditation Officer under ESG’s Quality & Excellence Group sees him conducting routine assessments of testing, calibration and inspection companies – such as laboratories – in the biomedical and chemical sectors. He also develops industry strategies to support the accreditation landscape in Singapore.
“My role ensures companies conform to international industry standards. This provides their customers with the assurance that their services and products are of the highest quality,” he explained.
For Habib and Germaine, their work at ESG has taken on even greater meaning in the current climate, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to throw up new uncertainties for businesses worldwide.
“We want to ensure that our Singapore companies have the necessary tools and resources to not only weather the storm, but also capture opportunities in a post-COVID world. This has become an increasingly important mission that I’m proud to be a part of,” said Germaine. She described a recent experience where she supported a company’s transformation efforts to automate their backend processes, in order to reduce their reliance on manpower and increase their efficiency.
Both scholars have taken away valuable lessons of adaptability and versatility from the unprecedented crisis.
One of Habib’s most eye-opening experiences was during the peak of Singapore’s COVID-19 outbreak, when he was roped in to manage the Safe Distancing Ambassador (SDA) programme supported by ESG. This involved coordinating with ministries and companies and interacting with the SDAs themselves, who are tasked to conduct daily surveillance checks across shopping malls.
“It was a challenging period, as we were uncertain how the situation would unfold in Singapore,” recounted Habib. “But through facilitating the programme, I learnt a lot about how to deal with different stakeholders. We were always on our feet and solving problems on the fly. It was truly a humbling experience.”
A Chance to Get Your Feet Wet
Both scholars credit the Management Associate Programme (MAP) for giving them the opportunity to experience the organisation’s diverse business functions – be it in the industry clusters, global markets or middle office – through multiple rotations, including an overseas attachment. This helped them to develop a holistic perspective of ESG’s overall mandate to support the growth of local enterprises.
In Germaine’s case, the exposure to different fields during her stints allowed her to identify her own strengths and underlying interests.
“Graduates of the MAP can then better ascertain if they prefer to pursue more frontline work in an industry cluster – where they get to interface with companies on the ground – or a middle office role, such as shaping critical policies and programmes that have a wide impact on businesses in Singapore,” she said.
Both scholars are looking forward to the new challenges and learning opportunities that await them in their careers at ESG.
With its focus on growing stronger enterprises, the organisation is a unique balance between the public and private sector – and both scholars quipped that the fast-paced environment has constantly kept them on their feet. “The work here is dynamic, fun and challenging,” said Germaine. “When guidance is needed, people in ESG are open to offering their time and resources, which makes learning much more manageable.”
And their unwavering personal convictions continue to keep them going. Since day one, Habib and Germaine have always believed in the impactful work that ESG does – which is making a difference for Singapore businesses, big and small.
“I chose to join ESG so I could engage SMEs on a professional level, and experience their trials and tribulations alongside them. I want to be in a place where my work can bring about change,” said Habib.
ESG offers scholarships at both local and overseas universities. Applications for the ESG Global Executive Scholarship (Undergraduate and Mid-Term) open in October and February.