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Meet Low Xuan Kai Kevin


scholar article Kevin (second from left) with some of his team members and the local staff of Global Brigades in Ghana, 2011
Enterprise Singapore scholar Kevin Low has always dreamed of travelling to the global cities Singapore is connected to – and to pursue a fruitful career that is global in nature. "Over the eight years since I was awarded a scholarship by Enterprise Singapore, I have fulfilled those dreams – and more," he says.

The Enterprise Singapore scholarship, Kevin says, gave him a valuable opportunity to read Economics at the London School of Economics, and to subsequently pursue his Masters in Economics at New York University – allowing him to experience student life in both Europe and North America.

His most memorable experiences include travelling to Ghana as part of a small team working with the non-profit organisation Global Brigades. He recalled, "We advised on the design of a community savings programme in a village in the Central Region of Ghana, near Cape Coast city. It was an opportunity to apply economics to policy and programme-design thinking, and also to consider how local contexts influence such design."

Upon graduation, Kevin returned to Singapore and embarked on a career with Enterprise Singapore as an officer in the Urban Solutions Division – a role which involves helping companies in the urban solutions space internationalise. "My work has given me the unique opportunity to experience developing countries – such as Bangladesh, India, and various parts of Southeast Asia – up close."

He adds, "This has allowed me to learn how business is conducted in these emerging economies, and challenged me to consider how Singapore-designed solutions for more developed markets can be adapted to address the needs of these developing markets."

One such example, he recalls, was working with a Singapore company to design water treatment systems in Indonesia different from those in Singapore, that would meet the cost constraints in the market while also meeting local standards.

Kevin has since moved on to a new role at Infrastructure Asia, a newly-formed organisation which harnesses the collective capabilities and networks of various government agencies including Enterprise Singapore to catalyse infrastructure projects in the region. This has given him the opportunity to work with colleagues from across the entire public sector. Kevin says that his colleagues, who come from numerous other government agencies such as the Land Transport Authority, Public Utilities Board and National Environment Agency, bring unique and valuable experiences that enable the team to jointly explore opportunities in Asia where infrastructure challenges and risks can be better managed with solutions developed by Singapore companies.

Kevin is grateful for his background in Economics as it has equipped him with valuable knowledge which enabled him to think about businesses and how the government can assist with their development. However, he notes that he has learnt even more on the job, acquiring valuable skills such as business development strategies, the ability to negotiate with foreign officials, and knowledge of how different markets work.

His work at Enterprise Singapore, he says, can be likened to a bungee jump. "It challenges me to dive deep into the unknown: learning the intricacies of how enterprises work – whether dealing with human resource issues; the logistics of a mission trip; and guiding companies on good documentation practices."

He adds, "Then, with a tug of the cord, I am sent flying in the completely opposite direction, working on big-picture projects such as helping companies strategise and select their target geographical markets. Finally, I return to where I first jumped, thinking through policy issues that relate to the development of an entire sector or industry."

Kevin shares that the true reward is seeing how individual enterprises grow, professionalise, develop new capabilities and enter new markets. This, he notes, is only possible with teamwork – where the various groups overseeing different enterprise capabilities and international markets come together with the industry groups.

He adds that Singapore's future depends on its continued prominence as an open, well-connected global hub. "Its economic links with other countries are intertwined with the business relationships Singapore enterprises establish in overseas markets – not just the multinational corporations with a presence in Singapore," he says.

"Beyond my early globe-trotting dreams, I am deeply grateful to play a part in Singapore's development efforts on the international front."