It has been 10 years since Michael Goh (BBA Hons 1999) graduated from NUS Business School and started working for Robert Bosch (SEA) Pte Ltd. In all this time, he has always looked forward to going to work every morning. He shares why his job is so fulfilling.
Does your life today match your aspirations when you were a student?
Never in my wildest dreams did I think of being in the automotive spare parts industry! I joined NUS Business School with the intention of being a banker, because that’s where the money is, after all. But after two modules of Finance, I realized it was not my calling. So I switched to Organizational Behavior and Marketing & Strategy modules. I thought if I were not suited for banking, I’ll go into management consulting. But even then my job applications availed nothing. Then Robert Bosch approached NUS Business School and Engineering Faculty for suitable candidates for their inaugural Asian Management Trainee program. Out of 300 names, I was one of the three appointed, after several shortlisting processes. I never had any aspirations to work overseas or to study another language. But I was sent to UK and Germany for training, and I had to learn German. This experience really changed my life and perspectives.
So how did you change your aspirations as a result of your experience?
Living in Germany, I saw a world I never knew existed. My parents were prudent people so I never travelled much as a young boy. My passport was practically empty, and the furthest we went were to Thailand or Malaysia. Being on my own in Germany and learning a new language from scratch was a turning point. I told myself if I can do this, then I’ll go anywhere. I aspired to have a broad experience and to try different aspects of the business. So after Germany, I looked for opportunities to work overseas, and got stationed in Thailand and Malaysia for Bosch.
Career consultants would say 10 years in a company could amount to stagnation. Are you concerned about that?
I actually have a constant fear of being stagnant and narrow-minded. So I planned my career with Bosch carefully; and what I really liked about Bosch is that they allow me to try different things. After my training, I worked as a product manager, then I did trade marketing as their Regional Marketing Manager for ASEAN. Following that, I became General Manager for Aftersales Service, Workshop Concepts and Diagnostics, which was more technical in nature. In 2008, I moved to Sales Controlling, planning business at a strategic level. Since December 2009, I have also been Country Manager for Singapore and Cambodia, managing the entire business in these countries. With each function and job, I learn new things and see things from different perspectives. I am always seeking something new, seeking to keep on learning – I call myself an industrial nomad.
So you are not concerned about the need to move between organizations so as to advance in your career and pay scale?
Work is not just about the money. If you dread going to work everyday, what is the point? I know I am not as well paid as my peers whose salaries jump 15 to 20 percent every time they move, but I love my job. As I am changing my job functions all the time, I am staying relevant in the job market. What is important to me is that I must continue to add value to the company, and that the company continues to add value to me.
I wanted to be in management and to lead people. So I am where I always wanted to be, and am enjoying it. Therefore, I just focus on doing what I am doing, and on doing it well. The results will speak for themselves.
So is your work life separate from your family or personal life.
Well, they do seem as one. My elder was born in my first job posting in Thailand, and my younger son was born in Kuala Lumpur during my posting there. The first word they learnt to spell was “Bosch”; they are a part of Bosch. But now that they are growing up and nearing school-going age, I will try to avoid having to relocate for my work. I want them to feel settled and secure in one place for now.
What’s next for you?
I need to learn to play golf! It would have been cheaper to pick it up in Thailand or Malaysia, but I was busy helping my wife take care of our sons after their births in each of these countries. I could not leave her to cope alone while I took off for a game. But that means I can’t play in golf events now. So, I need to change that.