Jason Lim (MBA-HEC 2013)
When Jason Lim (MBA-HEC 2013) enrolled on his MBA course, little did he know his career path was going to take such a sharp turn and lead him away from a stable job in the public sector and towards the high-flying world of corporate finance.
Awarded the Defence Science and Technology (DSTA) undergraduate scholarship to read mechanical engineering at NUS, Jason graduated with honours. He began his career at DSTA as a project engineer and was soon promoted to Project Lead, responsible for procurement and management of weapons systems and services for Singapore Armed Forces. The experience taught him a lot about dealing with public service companies and how they implement their systems and procedures. It also gave him insight into the culture within public sector companies.
After several years working for DSTA, Jason had reached the point where he wanted to expand his professional network both in terms of geography and industry. He did some research and sought advice from seniors and friends. “I took the MBA programme in order to network effectively in one setting with people from all walks of life in different industries.” He added that he saw the MBA programme as an excellent opportunity to gain some business knowledge and experience a totally different culture.
Interacting with his fellow MBA students, Jason soon understood the particular path he wanted to follow. “I found the consulting and finance industry a very exciting sector to be involved with,” he explained. With so much growth to be achieved in the emerging markets and a lot of opportunity to be exploited, Jason sees the corporate finance industry at the forefront of change, and is excited at being part of making that change happen.
Now an assistant manager at KPMG Global Infrastructure Advisory, Jason focuses on providing advice about corporate finance, project finance and public-private partnerships (PPP). He also provides advisory services for the corporate world and sovereigns in Asia, within the infrastructure sector. It is a consultancy role with two main goals: to assist governments in emerging countries to facilitate the improvement of their infrastructure; and to advise private companies on how to enter this space and earn an attractive rate of return for their investors.
Jason was able to draw on his engineering and MBA backgrounds to get a head start in terms of technical knowledge, and his past experience came in handy when dealing with people.
However, as would be expected, making such a drastic career change meant that he had a lot more to learn as he settled into his new role. His team comprises 15 individuals of eight different nationalities, and so while he already had good people skills, learning to interact with different cultures was a new but rewarding experience. “Part of the reason I changed career was to meet new people and experience different cultures,” he explains.
Of course, he also had to bring his knowledge of finance up to speed. Although Jason had several years of public sector experience, this new career required a broader understanding of the entire spectrum of the infrastructure sector, coupled with a general understanding of how governments in emerging countries in Asia operate. This necessitated both breadth and a reasonable amount of depth in terms of industry knowledge and general. So he continued to study and work towards completing the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and Financial Risk Management (FRM) programmes. By doing this he was able to get to grips with the needed financial information and gain respected qualifications that are highly regarded in the industry.
While the wealth of knowledge Jason had to amass in a short time frame seems daunting, the challenges he has faced adapting to his new role have been worth it. “This is an industry where you will be at the forefront of driving change and spearheading infrastructure projects in countries that need it the most,” he explains of his biggest motivating factor.
Looking back on his decision to switch careers, Jason admits he struggled to decide whether to stay in an established career or embark on such a big change. “It was a daunting prospect,” he recalls, “but now I am glad I ventured into doing something different.”
When asked what advice he would give fellow alumni considering a career change, Jason said: “It’s a major decision to undertake. Know where your strengths lie and research thoroughly on the path you intend to pursue. Where possible, always approach people who have been down the road before and seek their advice. Good luck!”