Ng Inn Chiau (MBA-HEC 2011)
Currently working at DBS, in its Institutional Banking Group, Ng Inn Chiau (MBA-HEC 2011) is a member of its Group COO Office strategic project management, responsible for creating new initiatives to better on-board corporate customers into the bank globally. It is a far cry from his original career as a Project Engineer. So what prompted the switch?
Having graduated with an Honours Degree in Engineering from a university in Melbourne, Australia, gaining a double major in computer systems and software systems engineering, Inn Chiau started out as a project engineer working for an SME. Here he gained valuable experience on how an SME needs to be nimble and versatile in order to stay ahead of its competitors.
Selected for a Training and Attachment Programme (TAP) through the Economic Development Board (EDB), he moved to Paris, France, where he was mentored and provided with a real-world perspective on process implementation and design scalability. Being exposed to working in France for a couple of years gave Inn Chiau a chance to experience and learn valuable lessons about bridging the gap between different cultures, and he particularly enjoyed working with colleagues from around Europe and leading international teams. Returning to Singapore as a project manager, he helped deliver the MRT Circle Line, the longest fully automatic metro line in the world by the time it was completed. Despite being involved in such ground-breaking projects, Inn Chiau had begun to feel increasingly distanced from the work he was doing. “I realised that I wanted to be more involved in shaping business and implementing business strategy for companies,” he explains. “I also realised that my engineering background could be a bridge to companies’ next stage of growth.”
Inn Chiau elected to read for his MBA, hoping that this would open up a variety of alternative options to him. The MBA course exposed him to people from a wide range of industries and opened up career possibilities he had not considered before. However, it was in the final stages of his course that he found the direction he had been looking for when he attended a talk by the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of DBS Bank, Institutional Banking Group.
“He shared the vision of the bank to make the quantum leap from its current position to becoming the Asian bank of choice, and how the bank needed the right people to make this a reality,” Inn Chiau explains. “As he articulated how the bank envisioned its growth to becoming a regional bank, I felt a connection and was inspired to be part of driving this vision.”
Coming into the banking industry from an engineering background has had its challenges, in terms of knowledge acquisition. Inn Chiau attributes his successful transition to being able to stay humble and listening to others. He has gratefully accepted the help and guidance that his colleagues offer him, especially as his learning journey is further complicated by a constantly changing business environment due to the multiple regulatory requirements imposed on the banking industry.
“The key to making the transition to a new career is in keeping an open mind and never closing your options too soon,” he advises. “The banking industry is constantly developing and changing, which means I have to network, interact with colleagues and be aware of new and ever-changing processes, products and terminology,” Inn Chiau explains. “It is a constantly evolving process to keep as up to date as possible.” However, this suits Inn Chiau well as it fulfills his constant thirst for knowledge. It also enables him to shape and mould some of the business’s strategies, his key driver for changing career paths in the first place. Keeping up to date with new job scopes and meeting and experiencing new cultures has been a very exciting and interesting part of his role in DBS. His energy is proof that he loves what he does.
Giving parting advice to anyone seeking a career change, Inn Chiau concludes: “Keep an open mind and you will know when the right role appears. Stay humble, maintain a thirst for knowledge, listen to others and keep learning.”