It is no surprise that a great number of one’s peers and colleagues today are foreigners. With vast improvements in technology making travel much more convenient, and the modern market place bringing in expanded opportunities, working abroad has become almost a way of life for many graduates chasing their dreams. You need only look right here in Singapore for a prime example of this.
What exactly is involved in the process of venturing overseas for one’s career? Is it as simple or as stressful as one would imagine? Thirteen alumni share their thoughts on making the move.
Advantages: Ultimate Journey of Self-discovery
Having come from Australia, I already possessed the so-called Western perspective. By venturing abroad from there, I was not only better able to complete my picture of the world, especially in terms of business, I was also able to learn how to deal with Asians and make friends with people from the local community, giving me valuable business contacts.
– Andrew Graham (MBA 2008), Guest Booker, Guest Assignment Desk, CNBC Asia (Australian based in Singapore)
I came here because NUS Business School has a really good reputation, and allows me to remain near my homeland, India. Venturing overseas has broadened my vision, giving me greater exposure and opportunities, allowing me to better appreciate life.
– Harsh Rajpal (MBA 2006), Managing Director, i3 Consulting Pte Ltd (Indian based in Singapore)
Things are different overseas. For example, I’m glad that business relationships here are not as complicated as back in China!
– Lina Kong (MBA 2006), Consultant, Asia Now Pte Ltd (Chinese based in Singapore)
Choosing to work overseas has changed my world perspective completely. It has allowed me to see how I am viewed by others; given me a better understanding of Asia; increased my general knowledge, especially in the business sense; and helped me become a more mature, all-rounded individual.
– Piyush Deshmukh (MBA 2008), Business Analyst, Barclays Capital (Indian based in Singapore)
Nothing can compare to gaining an international experience! It’s indescribable!
– Japna (MBA 2008), Manager, AXA Asia Regional Centre (Indian based in Singapore)
Challenges: Courage to Venture, Determination to Adapt
Working overseas almost always requires working with people of different ages, nationalities and very different working styles. You often have to put aside things you are accustomed to, and adapt a great deal.
– Carlo Custodio (MBA 2006), Manager, Strategic Account Management, Asia-Pacific, Emerson Network Power (Filipino based in Singapore)
You have to be brave and keep an open mind when encountering an entirely new culture, people, things and perspective in a foreign land.
– Gerhard Schick (MBA 2007), Business Development Manager, Carl Zeiss (German based in Singapore)
Besides cultural differences, expectations also differ across countries. For instance, in Singapore, I find that you are expected to work much longer hours!
– Anupam Saha (MBA 2008), Senior Analyst Global Markets, Standard Chartered Bank (Indian based in Singapore)
Singaporeans on the whole are just not global enough, preferring to keep within their own space. Being too sheltered here makes it difficult for them to sacrifice all the comforts and convenience for uncertainty. There is also the fear of having to overcome a language barrier that deters many from venturing abroad.
– Edwin Chong (MBA 2007), Assistant Vice President, Hong Leong Finance (Singaporean based in Singapore)
Tips: Successful Move – Know its Value, Be Optimistic, Manage Smart
It is critical to get a diverse range of experience by working in different environments – cultural or geographical. This creates opportunities for career growth and personal enrichment. So, search for overseas opportunities. You can do this by expanding your network of friends and colleagues, and by articulating your skills and aspirations.
– Manash Dasgupta (APEX MBA 2003), Director, Regional Sales, Treasury and Trade Services, Citi (Indian based in Hong Kong)
Get excited about a career abroad. Learn as much as possible. Aim as high as you can . But don’t forget to adopt a “giving” attitude. Everything has obstacles, but obstacles bring challenges, and challenges can be fun. It’s all about the joy of overcoming them, and growing from it. It’s important to just enjoy the experience.
– Professor Bernard Yeung, Dean, NUS Business School (Hong Konger based in Singapore)
The most important factor is to psyche yourself up to be adaptive. Singapore, and even NUS itself, are great training grounds for learning to work in a multicultural setting. Singaporeans are naturally advantaged when it comes to taking up overseas assignments because of our fluency in English, and our strong multicultural living environment which equips us with open-mindedness. Coupled with sincerity and hard work, there’s little doubt that NUS graduates can succeed in foreign settings.
– Ng Chonhong (BBA 2002), Manager, Brand Strategy team, Global Marketing Operations, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (Malaysian based in Seoul, Korea)
If you’re gearing up to work in an overseas branch, don’t wait till last minute to ask head office for preparatory assistance. Once there, managing your head office is as important as managing the local operation. Don’t let pressures from your home office adversely affect your dealings with your local staff and associates. Keep your boss back home updated of your overseas operations without too many details; the more he knows, the more he will unnecessarily interfere. But always remember, you are ultimately accountable to the head office for the overseas assignment’s success or failure.
– Ng Jiak Hong (MBA 1991), President, Nexgen Mobile Limited (Singaporean based in Bangkok, Thailand)