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Sector Areas of Work
Regulatory Affairs Manager: Graduate Area of Work
Regulatory affairs managers in healthcare and pharmaceuticals work as a bridge between private companies and regulatory authorities.
Acting as vital links between manufacturers, service providers, regulatory authorities and the public, regulatory affairs managers play a pivotal role in the pharmaceutical sector. Graduates holding this role are responsible for the appropriate licensing, marketing and legal compliance of pharmaceutical and medical products.
Regulatory affairs is a specialised area of work that ensures the safety and efficacy of products. Graduates looking to work in regulatory affairs will become the eyes and ears of a company when it comes to corporate responsibility. Other job titles for this role include compliance officer, regulatory affairs officer and compliance specialist.
Graduates who are looking to join this area of work should expect to have a great deal of responsibility. Many pharmaceutical firms hire regulatory affairs managers who are skilled and responsible to ensure no mistakes are made that may harm consumers or the reputation of the firm.
Some of the key duties of a graduate role as a regulatory affairs manager involve the following:
- Studying scientific and legal documents
- Maintaining familiarity with company product ranges (as they change)
- Meeting compliance standards and regulations set by the relevant regulatory bodies
- Outline requirements for labelling, storage and packaging
- Offering advice about company policies, practices and systems
- Planning, undertaking and overseeing regulatory inspections and product trials
- Obtaining marketing permission
- Liaising and negotiating with regulatory authorities
Graduates starting out at an entry level typically start as regulatory affairs assistants before progressing into an officer’s role or a managerial role.
Required skills and qualifications
Not all companies in this sector are prepared to recruit and train graduates in this area of work. Given the specialist nature of this role, employers prefer to employ experienced individuals for the role. Hence, to successfully attract employers to hire you as a graduate, you will need prior experience in other relevant areas, such as research or quality assurance.
You must also have the relevant degree to enter this area of work, such as chemistry, physics, biochemistry, biotechnology, pharmacy, medicinal chemistry, biomedical science, life or applied science. Having a relevant postgraduate qualification will also put you at an advantage.
Key skills that are sought after by employers in the pharmaceutical sector, particularly for a role in regulatory affairs, include IT, negotiation, analytical and interpersonal skills. Graduates should also be good at time management and problem-solving. A strong background and understanding in the relevant legal, scientific and manufacturing areas are also necessary for graduates to succeed in this field.
Pros and cons
A role in regulatory affairs can be challenging because it requires managers or officers to maintain high levels of accuracy, meet strict deadlines and negotiate successfully as a mediator between pharmaceutical firms and regulatory bodies.
However, the outcome of your efforts influence decisions at high levels. Your work directly relates to the safety of the public and can influence whether or not a product should be rolled out. Graduates who are passionate about corporate social responsibility may find this a rewarding aspect of the job.
Pharmacist: Graduate Area of Work
Pharmacists dispense medicines and provide advice, as well as information about medications and their uses.
Pharmacists are healthcare experts who are responsible for supplying medicines in the most effective way possible. This profession uses applied medical science where pharmacists monitor the quality, safety and use of medicines.
It is also a career that requires a high level involvement and interaction with patients and the general public.
Healthcare professionals in this area of work may find themselves in the following roles:
- Hospital pharmacists
They are responsible for the ordering, quality testing, storing and securing drugs and medicines in hospital. In addition, they ensure that the supply of medicine in the hospital is adequate.
- Retail or community pharmacists
They supply prescribed and over-the-counter medicines in retail pharmacies for the general public. They also give advice on the safe use of medicines.
- Industrial pharmacists
They help discover safe and effective new drugs in pharmaceutical companies. They then develop the drugs into medicines and market the finished product for the public.
Typical employers for graduates in this area of work include pharmacy retail chains, hospitals, clinics, research facilities and pharmaceutical companies.
In their employment, pharmacists provide a range of services and are responsible for an array of tasks. This includes:
- Compounding and dispensing medications as prescribed by doctors and/or dentists. This will entail calculating, weighing, measuring and mixing ingredients.
- Reviewing prescriptions from doctors to ensure accuracy, to ascertain the needed ingredients, and to evaluate their suitability for patients.
- Assessing the identity, strength or purity of medications.
- Providing information advice about drugs, their side effects, correct dosage and proper storage.
- Working with other healthcare professionals to plan, monitor, review or evaluate the quality and effectiveness of drugs.
- Advising customers/general public on which medication brands, medical equipment, or healthcare supplies to choose.
- Ordering and purchasing pharmaceutical and medical supplies, or drugs, while maintaining stock and proper storing.
In terms of career development, pharmacists can opt to move into pharmacology to further specialise in a particular field of research (e.g. toxicology and neuroscience).
Hospital pharmacists can move up the ranks to a consultant level, whereas retail or community pharmacists can progress to opening their own chemist stores or into management positions in chemist chains.
On the other hand, industrial pharmacists can progress to the lab and project management level.
This profession requires graduates to face customers and other healthcare professionals while performing day-to-day tasks that require technical expertise. As such, employers look for candidates who are well-rounded with specific skillsets to perform the duties required of them.
Some of these skills include:
- Analytical skills
- Critical thinking skills
- Strong numerical skills
- Attention to detail
- Observation skills
- Problem solving skills
- Communication skills
Additionally, graduates in this field must have a strong knowledge of the legislation and professional codes of practice. It is also a career that involves life-long learning as professionals in this field must constantly keep up to date with new drugs and treatments in the market.
To be a practising pharmacist in Singapore, graduates must be licensed by the Singapore Pharmacy Council (SPC). Graduates must not only have a degree in pharmacy, but also fulfil a range of professional requirements, such as clinical trainings and assessments, in order to be recognised by the SPC. [CT1]
Pros and cons
This area of work demands life-long learning to keep up with the fast pace of change in the world of medicine and drugs, which can often pose a challenge to graduates in this field.
Moreover, pharmacists are required to be very attentive to detail, as committing a seemingly small mistake can lead to grave consequences, especially when it comes to administrating medicines. There is no doubt that the job comes with a lot of pressure.
However, it is a rewarding career knowing that you are making a direct impact in people’s lives by improving their health and wellbeing.
Medical Laboratory Technician: Graduate Area of Work
A laboratory technician conducts tests and performs analyses for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases.
Medical lab technicians work primarily in a science research lab. They play an important role in producing reliable and accurate data to support scientific investigations by performing tests and trials.
Working under the supervision of a medical technologist or a physician, lab technicians perform tests to help diagnose and treat diseases. Graduates working in this line of work are typically employed by hospitals, clinics, private laboratories, research and development organisations or pharmaceutical companies.
The role of a lab technician is vital in the medical healthcare industry as they conduct screenings on almost everything and anything, from throat swabs to cancer test results. Daily duties of a lab technician include the following:
- Analysing body fluids or tissues to detect abnormalities or diseases
- Conducting blood tests and performing blood counts
- Examining cells and cultures for abnormalities
- Setting up, calibrating, maintaining and cleaning medical laboratory equipment
- Testing the sterility of equipment
- Analysing results of tests
- Recording test data
- Working with pathologists when abnormalities are found
Graduates will also find flexibility in their career as a medical lab technician. As lab technicians are employed in most areas of science, they can choose to move between medical research and diagnostics, to manufacturing, to drug trials, and even to education.
Alternatively, if graduates in this area of work want to progress within the very lab they work in, they can move up the career ladder by progressing from assistant technician to technician, to senior/lead technician, to leader technician, and finally to laboratory manager.
Graduates usually enter this profession with a biomedical science or life sciences degree. The detailed nature of a lab technician’s role calls for specific skills and competencies amongst graduates looking to enter this area of work.
Aside from formal qualifications, employers seek candidates with the following skills:
- Critical thinking
- Investigative skills
- Problem-solving skills
- Time management skills
- Teamwork skills
- Attention to detail
- Ability to maintain and calibrate technical equipment
Pros and cons
Depending on what your tasks entail, you may have to work irregular hours. Moreover, you will quite likely work with bio-hazardous and infectious material. Thus, you are required to wear the necessary protective gear and exercise precautions to avoid risks.
Much of your work as a medical lab technician is done without any contact with patients. This may be a pro or a con depending on your personality and expectations. If you are someone who would like to meet a patient or need closure of knowing a patient’s outcome based on the lab results you have helped diagnosed, this may not be the job for you.
However, graduates can look forward to making a significant impact on people’s lives, as a person’s life can depend on the precision and accuracy of your work as a lab technician.
Clinical Research Officer: Graduate Area of Work
Graduates working in clinical research play an important role in saving people’s lives by ensuring drugs are safe for administration.
Clinical research officers, otherwise known as clinical research associates or clinical research assistants, are responsible in assessing the benefits and risks of using new or current drugs. As such, graduates in this field are required to organise and administer clinical trials of these drugs.
Research officers in clinical operations play a pivotal role in a range of matters, including data collection, trialling, production and marketing of vital new medical products, which are produced to enhance and prolong human life.
Graduates entering this profession would typically be employed by pharmaceutical companies, clinical contract agencies/houses and hospital academic departments.
When a pharmaceutical company produces a new medicine, make changes to a drug, or produces a new product, the organisation must carry out the necessary clinical trials.
This is where clinical research officers come in. They are tasked to organise and monitor the different phases of clinical trials of these drugs and products.
They choose trial participants, set schedules and document each case while following strict protocols. This is to ensure that they meet legal and safety standards, as well as ethical, regulatory and compliance standards.
Clinical research officers are also required to communicate trial findings to their peers and colleagues.
Day-to-day tasks of a clinical research officer include:
- Writing drug trial procedures
- Identifying and briefing appropriate trial clinicians/investigators
- Setting up and disbanding trial study centres
- Coming up with trial materials and supplying study centres with sufficient quantities of those materials
- Instructing clinicians on how to conduct trials
- Collecting and authenticating data collection forms or case report forms
- Monitoring progress throughout different stages of the trial
- Writing reports
Career flexibility is also a highlight in this area of work. Graduates will find that their job as a clinical research officer a stepping-stone to many related careers. For instance, they can later seek a position as a data manager who designs and monitors clinical trials.
Alternatively, they can specialise to become biostatisticians. They are responsible for the analysis and interpretation of raw data, which is essentially the product of initial trials, to extract the results.
Clinical research officers may also opt to progress into clinical quality assurance as auditors who inspect all documents and processes to ensure that they comply with the clinical guidelines and regulations.
An undergraduate or postgraduate qualification in life sciences or medical sciences is a must to enter this area of work. Having a PhD qualification under your belt may also make you more competitive and stand you in good stead for promotional prospects.
Aside from professional qualifications, employers in this industry also look for the following among graduate candidates to fulfil the duties of a clinical research officer:
- A logical and inquisitive mind
- Good organisational abilities
- Excellent numerical, written and verbal communication skills
- Observational skills
- Commercial awareness
Pros and cons
Graduates who are looking to enter this area of work should be prepared for the irregular working hours that is part and parcel of this job. As the tasks required of this job can get quite detailed and meticulous, you may have to spend a lot of time in front of a computer or processing paperwork.
However, as a clinical research officer, there is a strong sense of job satisfaction knowing that you are making medicines safe for all consumers. Moreover, graduates in this area of work are tasked with job duties that come with a large degree of autonomy, which allows them to take ownership of their work.
Food Technology: Graduate Area of Work
Food technologists are important in the FMCG and consumer goods industry because F&B products must pass safety and quality checks before they reach the shelf.
As of 2016, Singapore is the home to more than 6,500 food and beverage (F&B) establishments and an estimated 750 companies in the food-processing sector – placing F&B products in the FMCG sector as the frontrunners of the industry. The ultimate objectives for food technologists in this industry are to optimise food processing and to improve the quality of the food for the general public.
Aside from improving the quality of existing products, food technologists also research and develop new F&B products. As a food technologist, you may also be tasked to develop and improve the preservation, processing, packaging, storage and safety of F&B products while adhering to the government and industry standards.
In the FMCG and consumer goods sector, food technologists are required for different types of food products, such as dairy products, home baking products and frozen products. Quite often, you will specialise in a type or range of products depending on the employer as well as your expertise and skill set. For instance, a food technologist can choose to specialise in tinned goods.
Food technologists are often required to work in a range of locations each week. For instance, they could be spending time in the office, the store, in laboratories, and sometimes may even need to visit suppliers wherever they are based.
The tasks that are assigned to food technologists vary according to the product they are working on as well as the location of where they are working in. In the office, the responsibilities of a food technologist include sampling products, going through packaging designs, following up on customer complaints and more.
On the other hand, when visiting suppliers, they will have to review a certain product, examine its specifications to make sure they meet compliance standards, as well as to investigate complaints if required.
In terms of career structure, most graduates either join graduate schemes or start out with entry-level jobs. The job title you will typically get in an entry-level role include ‘assistant technologist’ or ‘trainee technologist’. During your graduate scheme, you’re likely to learn about products in retail stores and to get to know the operations involved.
The exposure in retails stores is aimed to give graduates hand-on experience and for you to later go on to develop products that customers would want to purchase. As you gradually work your way up to manage your own set of products, you may find yourself with opportunities for advancement into senior technologist or managerial positions. However, advancement may entail relocation or a change of employer.
To become a food technologist, graduates will need a degree in a relevant subject, such as food science or technology, food or chemical engineering, biochemistry, nutrition, microbiology or chemistry. Graduates with work experience in the food production line or by working as a technician would stand out and have a better chance at securing a job in this line of work. Other useful experiences include food processing, laboratory or quality assurance work, and even business management or marketing.
As for personal requirements, on the other hand, food technologists need to have an outstanding eye for detail, especially with regard to food hygiene and safety, and the ability to be accurate. As you will be required to work in a team, team working ability is a quality that is highly sought after by recruiters. Food technologists are also required to be good at problem solving, planning, and organising, so analytical skills and the ability to work under pressure are valued in this line of work.
Another requirement to point out is the need for you to have good hand-eye coordination. This is because you will often have to deal with experiments that involve weighing and measuring precise amounts.
Ups and Downs
If you are vegetarian or have convictions about permitted food, you may feel limited about where you can work. However, as we are moving towards a more diverse and thoughtful world, this is increasingly understood by the industry and work can be arranged and managed accordingly.
Another aspect of this area of work that graduates should be warned about is that extensive travel within the working day can be expected. The need for a food technologist to visit suppliers’ factories for audit and sampling purposes may take up more time than what the typical working hours permit.
The silver lining however, is that as you advance in your career in this field, it is possible for you to move to other business areas, such as technology, business development or sales, where your expertise and specialist knowledge will be an advantage.
Whether or not they branch out into a different profession later in their career, the biggest reward for food technologists is knowing that they’ve made a real impact in making sure that the food and beverage products on the shelves of retail stores and supermarkets are of high quality and safe to consume.
Marketing and Brand Management: Graduate Area of Work
Consumers relate to products through brands and the values they are associated with conveyed via marketing strategies.
Brand management is an ever-expanding area within the marketing function, especially within the consumer goods sector. This area of work appeals to many marketing graduates because consumer goods companies are often viewed as “marketing-led” with their generous marketing budgets, resources and expertise.
If you are looking for a graduate career in marketing and brand management in the consumer goods industry, you’ll need to have a good understanding of who your customers are and how to best communicate with them. Typically, before a career in branding management, you’ll start as a commercial graduate trainee where your role may have some overlap with the job scope of your colleagues in sales.
A career in brand management can appear to be glamorous, but it comes with a lot of hard work and pressure because of the brand name at stake. However, to succeed in the task of effectively communicating the value proposition of the product is something that is immensely rewarding for brand managers and marketers.
A graduate looking to enter this area of work typically starts off as a commercial graduate trainee where they are expected to move between sales and marketing, before progressing to become brand managers.
In the early stages of your graduate career in consumer goods marketing, you may expect to find yourself tasked with responsibilities, such as organising product launches, liaising with external agencies over brand communications and exploring marketing opportunities by working alongside colleagues in sales, market research, or technical development.
As you rise up the ranks and earn an offer to become brand manager, your duties as brand management will expand to generating names and ideas for new and existing products and services, developing and implementing marketing strategies for effective communication to the masses, and monitoring distribution of products and consumer reactions through market research.
If you are looking to advance your career beyond the role of a brand manager, you may progress to become a global brand market manager or marketing director for a particular country. The opportunity of course does not present itself for everyone. It would require years of experience and has to be earned through merit and hard work.
Recruiters in the consumer goods industry, especially the major players of the industry, prefer to hire candidates who have completed a graduate scheme. Leading employers in the consumer goods sectors often run a marketing scheme as part of their internship and graduate programmes. It is in your best interest to seek an internship while you’re still a university student as that will help you get a head start when you apply for graduate programmes.
Graduates from any degree discipline can enter a marketing graduate scheme, but recruiters do look for specific skills that are necessary to succeed in this area of work. You’ll have to demonstrate that you’re both creative and analytical. Good commercial awareness and negotiating skills are also necessary for you to go far in this career path.
The ability to think strategically and on your feet, communicate well with people across levels and be a team player are qualities highly sought after by employers of this sector.
Ups and Downs
Most FMCG brands, especially the major ones, compete in a very well-developed and in elastic markets. Due to this, most marketing activities can tend to defend market share and maintain the brand image. This would usually mean that marketing strategies can in fact be bureaucratic and process-driven rather than being innovative and exciting.
However, the FMCG sector offers genuine exposure to all areas of the marketing job, making the sector an excellent platform to develop your marketing career. It is also important to remember that the only differentiation consumers make between your products from other products is down to the quality of the marketing and brand message. So, to be able to play a key role in that, is something marketers in this sector take pride in.
Sales and Commercial: Graduate Area of Work
Building and maintaining relationships is a key role of a sales job in a consumer goods industry.
Sales roles usually revolve around customer development, mainly finding and winning new customers while maintaining existing customer accounts. Quite often, graduate sales roles in this sector will adopt a partnership approach, whereby sales representatives from the consumer goods company work alongside retail outlets to achieve maximum profitability in their businesses and maximum possible appeal for consumers.
Depending on the size of the consumer goods company, graduates with sales roles are expected to build relationships with customers ranging from retail outlets, such as major supermarket chains, to distributors, influencers and consumers. What graduates may not know is that they could also find themselves having to work with hotel groups, caterers and brewers.
Graduate sales roles in this sector often work closely with merchandising or marketing. Hence, if you are looking to enter this line of work as a graduate, you can expect to have an overlap of marketing job roles, which are aimed to maximise sales to consumers. This may include managing or participating in brand-related initiatives and executing local promotions.
It is common for FMCG companies to offer graduate schemes specific for customer development to cover different aspects required for a sales role. During the early stages of a graduate career in sales, you may expect to familiarise yourself with account management and building relationships with clients.
If you are enrolled into a structured graduate training programme in this industry, you may be introduced to category management, where you will work on a specific category of products so you can specialise in that area. For instance, it could be toiletries or sports goods. The purpose for category management is so that you can be familiar with the products’ market place, consumers and competitors in order to be able to advise customers on suitable stocks for their demographics.
Day-to-day tasks of a sales job in the consumer goods sector would most likely involve keeping in contact with existing customers, meeting new customers, reaching sales targets, promoting new products and special deals, as well as advising customers about delivery schedules and after-sales service. Some desk work, such as recording orders and sending details to the office and giving feedback on sales trends, should also be expected.
Sales in FMCG often involve the business to business (B2B) model – the selling of products or services from one business to another. Hence, most of your sales efforts will be concentrated in building and maintaining supplier and retail relationships with key companies and organisations.
Sales jobs are often open to graduates from any degree background. However, due to the niche nature of some consumer goods company, food-related, land-based or life sciences subjects may be preferred. On the other hand, having studied business and management-related subjects will put you an advantage as well. Language skills are also valued in this line of work as you will have to speak to customers of diverse backgrounds.
Employers of the consumer goods industry look for specific competencies and skills when it comes to recruiting candidates for a sales role. To succeed, you’ll need to have excellent negotiation skills, good communication and interpersonal skills. Above all, recruiters need to know that you are able to stay confident, motivated and determined even in the face of rejection which is something common in a sales job.
Ups and Downs
One of the most attractive reasons why many graduates choose a career in sales is the potential of earning a high pay in comparison to many other choices. Many positions offer relatively high starting salaries with commission on top. Companies generally pay their sales teams well because they are the ones that generate revenue for the company.
However, as it is up to you to generate revenue, develop relationships, and drive a profitable business for the company, you are often held accountable for the performance of the company. This usually brings in a level of stress. Additionally, developing customer relationships or a sales ‘territory’ is not a nine to five job. It is common for you to have to meet clients after the conventional working hours.
A high income comes high accountability and responsibility to achieve your numbers and goals. It’s important for you to know what you’re signing up for!
Health and Safety: Graduate Area of Work
Health and safety officers use their knowledge and skills to ensure a positive health and safety culture in the workplace.
Manufacturing and production environments in consumer goods companies that involve heavy duty machinery and raw materials are dangerous workplaces, where risks of injuries and accidents are high. To protect employees in Singapore, the Ministry of Manpower have stringent regulations such as the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Act which employers must comply to.
Consumer goods companies hence have the responsibility to employ qualified and skilled candidates to ensure that the company meets the safety standards as stipulated by the authorities. Health and safety officers in this industry are responsible for developing, maintaining and protecting health and safety legislations.
Graduates in this role can make a big impact to everyone working in a company, but like they always say, with great power (to impact) comes great responsibility. If you are interested in entering this area of work, you’ll be held accountable for health and safety issues that may arise in the company.
Graduates in health and safety within the consumer goods industry carry out risk assessments and manufacturing site inspections on a regular basis to identify any potential hazards that put staff at risk.
As a graduate in this field, you’ll also be responsible in analysing and drawing up ways and mechanisms to reduce risks. This comes in the form of policies and strategies that are implemented across all manufacturing and production sites and teams. You’ll not only be working on things at the planning stage but right through the execution too.
Additionally, you’ll have to make sure varying teams from across the company’s sites are on the same page by providing health and safety meetings and training courses to all staff. In other words, you’ll very much be holding a leadership role where you are setting the health and safety benchmark for your colleagues to follow. You’ll have to communicate the standards clearly and ensure they are well adhered to.
You’ll also have to liaise with relevant authorities that regulate the type of consumer goods that the company manufactures. Moreover, you’ll need to keep up to date to ensure the company’s compliance with the latest health and safety legislations in place.
It is now more common for recruiters to look for graduates with relevant degrees to fulfil the role of health and safety officers. Typically, degrees or qualifications in health and safety, risk management, engineering, construction, business, management and law are useful when applying for this role.
You may choose to register yourself to be a workplace safety and health officer (WSHO) under Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower later in your career especially if you would like to advance into a managerial position.
Graduates should have excellent written and spoken communication skills as they are required to explain health and safety processes and standards to a range of people within the company. Negotiation skills and diplomacy are also qualities that recruiters look for because you’ll have to collaborate with managers across teams in the company to implement and maintain safety standards which may sometimes compromise the speed or efficiency of the working process. For this reason, you’ll also have to demonstrate that you can be assertive during times where you have to hold your ground to ensure your colleagues’ safety.
You should also be physically fit as your job may entail spending time on large-scale manufacturing sites and outdoor sites. Needless to say, you need to also have strong analytical, problem-solving and organisational skills in order to acquire and apply detailed legal, technical and regulatory information.
Pros and Cons
Although work is often said to be generally office based, health and safety officers will spend a lot of time in manufacturing and production sites, transportation systems, factories and sometimes the outdoors (depending on the business of the consumer goods company). Traveling during the day is common if you have multi-site responsibilities. Moreover, some of these sites can be noisy and dangerous or in cramped conditions.
However, it’s important to remember that you are impacting lives by protecting your colleagues through the safety frameworks you’ve set up for the company. The significance of your role is vital in building a safe and healthy working environment for all.
Management Accounting: Graduate Area of Work
Management accountants use their financial prowess to make informed business decisions and drive change within organisations on a strategic level.
Management accounting is a sector that brings together accountancy, finance, and management to generate information, specifically for a company’s managers in order to help them with their decision-making process and the implementation of their financial strategies. The responsibilities of management accountants are two-fold – they provide critical information to management about the state of a company, and may also be business partners who take an active role in planning and strategising a company’s business policies.
A management accountant draws conclusions from the financial information they obtain, using it to generate business-specific insights into the ways a company can prepare and adapt according to an ever-changing business environment. This can mean offering advice from topics ranging from product design economics and the cost of running production lines, to strategies for hiring and managing staff or planning for the implementation of IT solutions.
As it is the job of a management accountant to advise the management on the implications of their business decisions, projects, and financial controls, they need to be able to see the business from a complex global perspective. Good management accountants are as aware of global trends as they are of specific, local issues to each process; and are able to see how both factors interact and affect the company as a whole.
Most graduates and newcomers to the field usually start with a position in general accounting roles, where you will pick up various business skills that will be useful for management accounting. If you intend to specialise in management accounting, you will be encouraged to study for the specialist professional qualifications offered by various professional bodies, such as the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA).
Some of the early responsibilities that you can expect starting out as a management accountant include crunching numbers for internal reviews and helping out with preparing the management budget. Once you have established yourself in your position, you may be asked to assist with risk management, identifying trends and opportunities for future investments, and overseeing lower-level accountants who are in charge of basic accounting tasks. The bulk of your duties, however, will involve working closely with senior management, as you advise them in their decision-making and strategy-planning.
As is the case with most accounting positions, having a business- or finance-related degree, or a relevant professional qualification (such as those offered by CIMA) will be beneficial. Aside from paper qualifications, however, a credible management accountant will possess a good foundation in SAP management software, generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), and financial analysis and reporting skills.
Good communication and persuasion skills are also valuable, as you will often have to translate complicated concepts and numbers for the understanding of the management, as well as sell your ideas and opinions to them. It is also necessary for you to possess excellent decision-making skills, and to be firm in your judgement calls. In this sense, a high level of confidence will stand you in good stead.
As a more senior management accountant, you may also want to develop the ability to observe a local trend in terms of the international perspective, so as to decide on the actual value of investing in the trend. Good leadership and management skills, too, will be of use to you.
Ups and downs
The role of a management accountant is quite a challenging one, and some will find the mental stimulation quite enjoyable. Your duties may be quite diverse and taxing, but can also be very rewarding, as the knowledge that you have assisted in the decision-making process of the company (especially more successful ones) can be particularly satisfying.
Supply Chain: Graduate Area of Work
A career in supply chain involves the process of getting consumer products onto shelves from start to finish.
Supply chain oversees the product journey, from raw material to supply of the finished product to the point of sale. It is essential to have a supply chain with a high level of service, quality and efficiency in order to meet the needs of the consumers while actively enhancing the company’s profitability.
Due to the high volume and speed of production in this sector, graduates in this field will be able to experience working in a demanding and fast-paced commercial environment.
However, it will also give graduates the opportunity to flex their intellectual muscles by researching and implementing methods that can reduce environmental impact throughout the product journey as the industry works toward meeting corporate responsibility and sustainability goals.
Major FMCG companies offer graduate schemes designed to introduce graduates to different aspects of the supply chain. The graduate programme typically lasts for a year or two and involves rotations across different areas of the supply chain, such as procurement, demand planning and logistics.
Graduate roles may range from purchasing raw materials to customer service and distribution. As a graduate with a role in purchasing, you may be expected to analyse markets, assess suppliers, and prepare and carry out negotiations with them.
You are also required to manage data about your transactions to be used in project management and price forecasting, especially if you are working on supply management or strategic purchasing.
If you are placed in customer service and distribution, your responsibility will include warehousing, overseeing transport arrangements, managing shelf availability as well as ensuring the timely delivery of products.
On the other hand, if you end up being placed in supply chain planning, you will be required to liaise with the different functions in the business to lock down potential sales for a product and later plan for factories to meet those sales on time.
Skills picked up in this industry are largely transferrable among businesses in different industries, as the demanding environment of the consumer goods sector sets its employees up to progress well in other equally fast-paced industries.
Supply chain roles require a logical mind and the ability to solve problems. The need to work with various departments will require good communication skills and the ability to be a team player.
Working with demanding vendors and clients can also be stressful, hence patience and solid negotiation skills are important for graduates who are interested in this field.
Employers in this field also have a preference for candidates with a background in logistics, engineering, IT, operations management, finance, business administration and supply chain-related qualifications and degrees.
However, candidates who do not possess such qualifications are still welcomed, but they will need to demonstrate sound commercial awareness, and strong analytical and problem-solving abilities.
Ups and downs
Work pressure is something that most employees struggle with, given that customer’s satisfaction is of top priority. However, the stable and constant demand for workers in the consumer goods sector provides a range of opportunities to graduates interested in this field.
Research and Development: Graduate Area of Work
Research and development (R&D) allows graduates to transform scientific ideas into business practices.
A career in this field will involve figuring out how to meet consumer demand and turn concepts into reality. FMCG companies place a priority in recruiting innovative and talented graduates for the R&D team as they play a vital role in ensuring that the company stays ahead of the competition.
The fundamental aim of R&D in this industry is to refine existing products and develop new ones with the use cutting-edge technologies.
As a nation known for its formidable research capabilities, Singapore is the leading player in the consumer business in Asia, with key multinational corporations (MNCs) such as Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, and Mondelez setting up R&D centres in Singapore.
The maturity of this area of work in Singapore provides graduates with vast learning and growth opportunities.
Although scientific and technological investigation and experiments make up a large part in graduate R&D jobs, you can expect to work outside of the lab as well, and with teams from other areas of the business, such as manufacturing and marketing.
Quite often, graduate training programmes offered by FMCG companies are designed to ensure interaction amongst the various teams.
As a graduate trainee, you can also expect your work to include patent protection, regulatory compliance and ensuring that products have the lowest possible environmental impact. This is where graduates are able to use their problem solving and analytical skills to make a real and positive impact to the environment.
That said, the structure of each R&D division varies depending on the company’s needs. Different tasks and roles will be assigned at different stages of a product’s life cycle ranging from prototype to manufacturing and full-scale production.
Additionally, some FMCG organisations have specific research centres located across the globe, giving graduates in this field the opportunity for travel and international exposure.
These centres tend to focus on conducting research to develop and/or improve a particular aspect of the organisation’s products, for example on flavour, fragrance, appearance, texture or nutrition only, rather than on the entire product as a whole.
Unlike other areas of work in this sector, R&D roles call for candidates with technical qualifications in specific disciplines related to the field of research, for example in chemistry, chemical engineering, food science or biology.
Some research positions may also require postgraduate qualifications.
However, having the right qualifications may not be enough for you to secure the role as recruiters also look for individuals who have a different view on things, have good commercial awareness, and are curious and inquisitive in nature.
This is because R&D professionals need to be willing to constantly ask questions and to follow up on them in order to keep up with the quickly-changing market demands.
Ups and downs
A common frustration that researchers in this industry express is the need to keep up with the rapid changes in market trends and consumer demand. You may find yourself working on a project for some time, only to discover the need to alter your area of research due to an unexpected drop in demand.
However, the variety of tasks that you will have to perform in your role will ensure an exciting job scope. You will also be surrounded by a diverse range of experts in their fields, providing you with plenty of resources and opportunities for growth.
Human Resources and Recruitment: Graduate Area of Work
The human resources department is largely responsible for recruiting and training candidates to meet the company’s talent demand.
Consumer goods companies know the critical role that a strong talent pool plays in securing continued commercial success. Company output is dependent on employee competence which human resources (HR) and recruitment management have a strong influence in.
HR roles in this industry entail the recruitment, selection, training, and performance management process as well as compensation practices.
As the workforce in the consumer goods industry comprise of different areas of expertise, you will find yourself on the perfect platform for learning and growth with maximum exposure to working with diverse individuals.
Large FMCG organisations may offer graduate schemes catered specifically for HR roles. For companies that do not offer a specific HR training programme, you may be able to break into the industry through an entry-level role as a HR assistant.
During the course of a graduate scheme, you’ll primarily be gaining a broad perspective on HR and an in-depth, practical understanding of different areas of the business.
As a fresh grad, your placement would require you to spend time in different locations ranging from manufacturing sites to the head office.
You may also get the chance to take on international projects or be appointed as the single point of contact for employees at a specific site. Gaining such responsibilities early on in your career will push you to adopt an in-depth understanding of the work culture and needs of the team.
Additionally, you will be involved in designing and facilitating team building events and gaining an understanding of the employee life cycle from the point of recruitment to retirement. You can expect mentoring and support from your experienced colleagues as you go through the training programme.
Employers usually consider applications from a range of degree backgrounds for entry-level HR roles. However, a degree in human resources, management and business will give you an edge.
Whether or not you have a relevant degree, it is important for you to demonstrate a genuine interest and strong knowledge on the general consumer goods market. Some experience in leadership roles in university clubs, volunteer experiences and projects will add to your credibility as a candidate.
You will also need to demonstrate effective interpersonal skills as a role in HR entails regular interaction with colleagues from various education and cultural backgrounds in the global organisation.
Pros and cons
Having in-depth knowledge about the company may be a daunting but necessary task when you hold a HR role in a sector with such diverse departments and talents.
You’ll have to understand the challenges faced by different employees, which can be specific to their departments, to be able to provide a solution accordingly.
However, there is satisfaction in knowing that you get to make a direct impact on your organisation’s output by boosting the staff’s productivity.
Manufacturing and Engineering: Graduate Area of Work
Engineers in this industry are primarily responsible for developing and optimising manufacturing processes to promote efficiency.
Engineering in consumer goods companies is a diverse area of work. It includes designing and installing advanced machinery and ensuring that production lines run smoothly. The fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry manufactures products on a massive scale, entailing complex operations that often involves leading-edge technologies.
Aside from overseeing the machinery, engineers are expected to maintain, upgrade and optimise all equipment. As consumer demand constantly fluctuates, engineers need to innovate new machines and processes to match them.
Maintaining reliability is a trending issue in this field, and engineers are involved in implementing efforts to make machines run efficiently and consistently for long periods of time. Automation and robotics are also growing areas of focus in this sector.
Graduate engineers can expect to be involved in the process design for the manufacturing of new products. During this stage, you’ll be tasked to assess the needed machinery and equipment and how to maintain them throughout the manufacturing process. You’ll be working as part of a larger, multi-disciplinary project team.
For instance, you may have to work with production colleagues who will assess the ingredients required and determine the number of people required to man the production lines. Throughout such tasks, graduate engineers also develop ways to manage, reduce and recycle waste.
As a graduate engineer, you may find yourself in either production or manufacturing roles. Roles in production primarily focus on product creation and making sure that products meet the required quality levels.
You’ll also work on people management and shift management, which is an excellent training ground for graduate engineers to get to know different teams of people who run the production lines and the procedures better. Aside from working with colleagues from different departments, you’ll also have to liaise with external suppliers and distributors.
Manufacturing roles on the other hand are focused on increasing efficiency and the improvement of industrial performance. Here, you may find yourself putting your analytical skills and problem-solving skills to the test as you’ll be tasked with analysing problems for possible solutions.
It’s not just brainwork, though. You’ll also be required to put control mechanisms in place to make sure that the improvement is sustainable.
Most engineering disciplines can apply for manufacturing jobs in this industry. Work in this sector is challenging and fast moving, so recruiters look for graduates who can think on their feet, have strong analytical abilities and a strong drive for continuous improvement.
You’ll also need good interpersonal and project management skills, especially for manufacturing roles, as you will work with people inside and outside of the company for projects.
Pros and cons
This area of work will often have you travelling to different manufacturing sites in multiple locations, which may tire some individuals after some time.
However, such an arrangement opens up more opportunities for graduates to learn about the company and be acquainted with other functions within the organisation. The pace and steep learning curve will also push you to learn more in a shorter period of time, contributing to your personal and professional growth.
Finance and Financial Management: Graduate Area of Work
The vast scale of FMCG calls for finance professionals to perform functions ranging from tax planning to cost forecasting.
Graduate finance roles in consumer goods companies call for plenty of team work and effective communication from across different areas of work to maintain and execute effective financial controls.
In this area of work, you will be responsible for providing information to the management that will later be used to make business decisions and to assess the company’s performance against targets and budgets. The primary aim of finance roles in this industry is to help steer the profitability and efficiency of the business.
As you advance in your career, you may be put in a team that will oversee the success of a particular brand/product. You will thus need to be aware of market developments and any changes in regulation that may affect the company’s business.
It is common for major graduate employers to offer finance graduate schemes, where you will go through rotations across various finance functions in the company before settling into one particular team.
During your time in the scheme, you would be expected to provide financial information about specific products throughout the different stages of their life cycles. Additionally, you may also be analysing the sales progression across the business.
You may also be tasked to undertake other duties such as providing financial analysis for a brand or product category, profit forecasting, optimising costs in manufacturing facilities and internal audits.
Upon completion of the training scheme, you may advance into management accounting roles where you will focus on either commercial or operational activities. You may also progress to a senior role in finance management or even a finance director for a brand, a group of products or the region.
Numerical competence is something you will need in order to cope with the day-to-day tasks assigned to you. A degree in finance and management, as well as other business-related degrees will give you an advantage among applicants from other disciplines.
You will also need to have good communication, negotiation and interpersonal skills, as well as good attention to detail, while being highly results-driven.
Self-confidence will also take you a long way in this field as you will need to challenge business decisions that don’t make financial sense.
Ups and downs
Expanding your commercial awareness of the fast moving consumer goods sector will take up your personal time, but there are plenty of diverse opportunities and flexibility to move around the industry.
Graduates keen on attaining both personal and professional growth will also find this an attractive industry.
Distribution and Logistics: Graduate Area of Work
Distribution and logistics deal with the management of the flow of consumer goods through the supply chain to the consumer.
A role in this sector entails the management and organisation of the storage and delivery of consumer goods from factories to the right retail outlets, while adhering to strict cost and time guidelines. This area of work is a complex and global business, with time and technology being critical factors affecting an organisation’s success.
Holding this role in the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector, you are required to work in areas such as transportation, stock control, warehousing and monitoring of the movement of goods. You may also be given the option to work in reverse logistics, where you will be involved in the management of waste and by-products that come about during the production and transportation process.
Most graduate roles in this area begin with a graduate scheme. Lasting about two years on average, you will learn the skills required to manage the people as well as systems involved in the supply chain.
Logistic roles in the FMCG industry involves working closely with customers such as supermarket chains and other retailers. With experience, you will get to improve your client-facing skills, and understand your customer’s needs. You will also be able to sharpen your problem-solving skills as you encounter time-sensitive issues throughout the process.
On the other hand, if you are placed in distribution roles, you will be involved with the warehousing and transportation of the goods. Typically, you will have to manage the warehouse workers, work in stock control and provide support services to major customers when needed. You may also find yourself needing to work alongside 3PL (third-party logistics) companies, which are organisations that outsource the logistics function.
In terms of career progression, you may pursue a managerial position as a logistics and distribution manager. Managers in this area of work coordinate inventory management, warehousing and transportation. They make strategic decisions to meet business objectives and liaise with relevant parties, such as manufacturing companies, retailers and resellers.
While they make top-level decisions in this area of work, managers are still needed to manage the nitty-gritty side of the job.
This area of work welcomes graduates from all degree backgrounds, though candidates with qualifications in logistics management, engineering, IT, economics and business studies may have a leg up during the hiring process.
Having work experience in warehouse management and delivery services would also make you stand out among other graduate applicants.
You will also need to showcase strong problem-solving, communication, organisational and analytical skills. Candidates need to be adaptable and be comfortable working with technology and information systems, while leading and managing teams, and dealing with customers.
Ups and downs
You are likely to work long hours on a daily basis. Weekend work is also something common in this sector. For major companies that operate on a global level, operations are usually carried out on a 24/7 basis – you can thus expect to do shift work if you join one of these companies.
Tight deadlines are also a common occurrence in this line of work, so the ability to remain calm under pressure is something you will need to possess to succeed in this field.
However, the stress often pays off when you see the impact of your work. This is especially so for those who favour hands-on work, and who dislike being chained to a desk for a living.
Wealth Management: Graduate Area of Work
Wealth managers play an important role as trusted advisers across a range of financial issues.
Wealth management jobs are configured towards those who wish to deal with high net-worth clients. Aside from providing professional services in investment advice, wealth management also comprises of services in financial advice, banking, accounting and tax services, retirement planning and legal or estate planning.
This area of work involves a holistic approach to all parts of a person’s financial life and allows high net-worth individuals to have a single wealth manager to coordinate all the financial services needed to manage their assets, as well as meet their families’ current and future financial needs.
Not all wealth managers work in banks – wealth manager roles are most commonly found in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and some may even be self-employed. In banks, wealth managers typically only recommend financial products provided by the bank they work for, instead of products available on the whole market.
As a graduate in this field, you will generally start off with a role in a company’s back office as an administrator or a paraplanner. Administrators are involved in supporting the company’s business whereas paraplanners are involved in researching about the best products on the market to recommend clients. Gradually, you’ll rise up the ranks and progress into a wealth manager role.
Alternatively, you may enrol yourself into a graduate scheme. It is also possible for individuals to switch from their professions in accountancy, law and other financial services sales to wealth management.
Although recruiters accept applications from all disciplines, a numerate degree such as economics, accounting and finance can put you at an advantage. Business and law degrees, as well as courses in risk management, investment and taxation will also catch recruiters’ eyes.
As a graduate wealth manager, you should have excellent interpersonal and communication skills as the role will largely be client-facing in nature. You’ll need to be able to explain complicated matters in a simple and clear manner to clients.
Analytical skills are also essential to land a role in wealth management as you are responsible in formulating the most suitable advice to your clients’ problems and situation. As the role comprises of numerical aspects, you must also possess solid mathematical abilities.
Ups and downs
Wealth managers can sometimes experience a great level of stress especially at the start of their careers. As the financial services industry is highly dependent on domestic and global markets, clients reach out to their wealth managers when economies perform poorly. During such times, clients may sometimes be emotional, which can induce a high level of stress among wealth managers.
However, the greatest thing about being a wealth manager is to be able to guide clients towards making sound decisions that could lead to great success in a client’s financial life. You can thus derive great satisfaction from your career as your clients’ success will reflect your own success as a wealth manager.
Risk Management: Graduate Area of Work
Risk managers help companies to navigate through financial uncertainty and potential risks.
Risk managers help organisations avoid losses by analysing, advising, and managing potential risks on their behalf. Through close observation of the company’s risk appetite, financial limits, and business parameters, they ensure that businesses avoid running into financial risks such as fraud, as well as market, credit, liquidity, operational, and health and safety risks.
As a risk manager, a big part of your responsibilities will revolve around conducting detailed research and risk assessments for your clients, which means you’ll be spending a lot of time poring over documents, reports, statistics, and market trends.
Risk managers are usually hired by banks and insurance organisations, as well as commercial businesses such as engineering and energy companies.
Graduates typically get on board through rotational graduate schemes, where you get the chance to experience a variety of roles before specialising in one. Most executives will start out as part of a small team, and pick up essential skills on the job as they assist their colleagues with their tasks.
Graduate employees are also typically assigned mentors to guide them along in their work and oversee their progress within the organisation.
While most of your training will be done on the job, there is also a range of external training courses available for career advancement purposes. You would also need to acquire professional qualifications if you intend to specialise in particular areas of work, including technology or fraud.
The job scope can be very diverse from the get-go – one day, you could be meeting clients and surveying sites, and the next, writing reports and helping out in making preventative recommendations.
Employers generally have a preference for applicants with industry-relevant degrees – such as business, law, economics, or management.
Many employers are also given increasing importance to seeing relevant work experience in a potential candidate’s résumé, so obtaining an internship could give you a leg up in this sector.
In terms of soft skills, it’s vital that you develop excellent interpersonal and communication skills as you’ll be expected to work with people from diverse backgrounds. At the same time, you’ll need to have good problem-solving and analytical skills, as well as a good eye for detail.
Having good negotiation skills, commercial awareness, and the ability to be forward-thinking are immensely important as well.
Ups and downs
Risk managers must be prepared to work under great pressure and stress, especially in times of crisis. Work can also be extremely fast-paced and you would need to be highly adaptable to succeed in the sector’s quickly-changing environment.
That said, many risk managers enjoy their role because of the excitement that comes with the diversity of the day-to-day tasks.
Retail Banking: Graduate Area of Work
The retail banking sector mainly involves serving customers in their daily financial needs.
Retail banks provide consumers and small businesses with a variety of financial products and services that range from bank and savings accounts, mortgages, loans, personal credit products, as well as remittance services.
Some retail banks also offer services such as stock brokerage, insurance, wealth management, and private banking – although these are usually delivered through another division or an affiliate of the bank.
However, with the finance industry rapidly adopting FinTech (financial technology) innovations and solutions, it has become necessary for retail banks to continuously adapt their services and facilities in order to sufficiently serve their customers.
This includes rethinking features such as mobile banking services, online security measures, new products and collaborations, as well as customer service.
As most sectors of the finance industry, the retail banking sector is constantly being regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).
There are diverse opportunities for graduates in retail banking, ranging from risk management and compliance to marketing and IT. Most major banks typically run specialised graduate programmes to recruit potential candidates to their function of choice. Management associate programmes are also especially popular.
Most graduate programmes offered are rotational in nature, and will span a total of two years, where you get the opportunity to experience the different areas of work within the department and to gain a an understanding of the organisation’s business as a whole.
Besides learning about your role on-the-job and through formal training programmes, you may also be attached to a mentor to guide you along your various responsibilities as you move from one department to another. Upon graduating from the programme, you will be assigned to the role that best suits you.
Also, depending on your programme, you may be put in charge of managing small-scale projects, be involved in creating new products and services, providing technical support to your colleagues/other divisions, or handling customers on the ground.
In most cases, most candidates will work a regular 9-to-5 shift, but certain roles may require you to pull the graveyard or weekend shift.
The career path for graduates working in this sector can be very diverse due to the sheer variety of products offered by each bank.
Career advancement can take place vertically – where you climb up the corporate ladder to take on managerial positions – or horizontally – where you transition from managing products such as mortgages and personal loans to a different division, e.g. private banking.
You can also consider obtaining professional diplomas or other qualifications to help you with your career progression. It is also a good idea to consult your mentor for ideas on how you can go about developing your career.
Employers in this sector generally welcome graduates from any education background – unless the position requires specific technical skills. To be a stand-out applicant in this highly competitive sector, you should focus instead on developing your soft skills. In particular, develop the ability to manage well, teamworking ability, and communication and interpersonal skills.
Good customer-facing skills is also tremendously important as a big part of your job scope will revolve around assisting customers in their queries. Aside from that, having excellent organisational and management skills will also stand you in good stead, as will commercial awareness.
Ups and downs
The retail banking sector is fast-paced and exciting, and offers a relatively good work-life balance. In addition to that, excellent benefits such as lucrative year-end and additional bonuses, as well as varied growth opportunities, make working in this sector extremely attractive.
That said, be aware that this sector can be relatively stressful, especially during crunch time such as the launch of a new product. You may also find the working environment to be quite structured, with plenty of red tapes in place.
Insurance: Graduate Area of Work
The insurance sector is highly diverse and offers a constantly changing work environment.
Careers in the insurance industry can be immensely wide-ranging, but they ultimately revolve around the safeguarding of an entity’s financial assets when an unexpected occurrence happens.
There are diverse positions that graduates can expect to start out in this industry. Here are some of the more popular ones:
- Graduate underwriter
Underwriters are responsible for determining a client’s eligibility for a policy, additional terms and conditions part of the plan, as well as the amount of premium to be paid by the client.
- Claims management trainee
As part of the insurance claims department, you’ll be involved in assessing the validity of submitted claims, as well as liaising with policyholders to ensure that the repayment process is completed efficiently.
- Trainee loss adjuster
Loss adjusters share a relatively similar job scope with insurance claims handlers – e.g. checking the validity of a claim, establishing the causes of a loss, etc. – except they typically work as an independent third party, and are attached to specialist practices instead of insurance companies.
Insurers generally seek the services of loss adjusters, instead of claims managers, for more complex claims.
- Business development, business finance, and sales graduate roles
The responsibilities for this position varies according to the employer’s area of speciality, but working in the business division typically involves a mix of duties such as promoting services to potential clients, as well as identifying and following up on new opportunities.
- Graduate insurance broker
Insurance brokers help clients match their needs with the most suitable insurance products for the best premiums.
- Trainer actuary
Actuaries help their clients to forecast, manage, and advise on financial risks through the application of financial and statistical theories.
- Graduate product manager
Product managers at insurance companies are responsible for creating, testing, and launching new insurance products for potential customers. Their responsibilities may include market research, sales forecasting, as well as regulatory compliance.
- Operations management
In this role, you will be primarily responsible for managing and encouraging the customer service department.
- Support functions
Insurers will require a variety of other expertise to support their core business, such as technology specialists, marketing, and HR personnel.
Your main employer will probably be insurance companies, but insurance brokerage, retail banks, and supermarkets are very welcoming of graduates as well. You may also want to consider specialist consultancies, where they carry out very specific roles, such as specialising in life insurance or loss adjustment.
Most large employers offer training/graduate schemes to help you adapt to your new working environment. The schemes are usually rotational to provide diverse experiences to help you understand the company better. Others, on the other hand, will rely on on-the-job training, and formal/informal mentorship programmes from senior team members.
Variety of products
The type of work involved in your role also greatly depends on the employer’s area of speciality in terms of the products offered. The following are the main types of insurance products:
- General insurance
This encompasses the different types of insurance policies save one – life insurance.
- Commercial/corporate insurance
This is crafted specifically for business organisations, protecting them against unforeseen events such as theft, property damage, liability, or other disruptions to their day-to-day operations.
- Life insurance
Life insurance is purchased as a form of financial protection and aid for named beneficiaries in the case of a premature death.
- Personal insurance
This consists of a range of insurance contracts that protects an individual financially in the event of a misfortune. Common examples of this type of insurance include policies for personal automobiles, properties, and illnesses.
This is purchased for insurers and acts as a risk management strategy for them. For instance, when an insurer foresees itself encountering a financial strain due to an unexpectedly large payout for his/her clients, they may opt for reinsurance as a method to mitigate that risk.
Remember, though, that the insurance industry is always expanding, and that these are only basic products. To score at job interviews with insurers, it’s important that you read up on other unique offerings that the company is involved in as well.
Employers in this industry value graduates with skills such as the ability to react promptly, numeracy, good attention to detail, and great client-facing skills.
Generally, most employers will state a preference for numerate or business/management-related degrees. While this is especially so for actuary positions, graduates from all degree disciplines are usually welcome to try for other roles in the sector.
Also, your employer may also urge you to sit for examinations from professional bodies. The certifications obtained are usually vital for career progression.
Ups and downs
If you enjoy meeting new people and working in a stimulating environment, then this could be an industry worth exploring.
However, do be aware that certain positions in the insurance industry can be deskbound with relatively little variety, such as the underwriter position. On the other hand, if you’re working as an insurance sales representative, then you can expect a lot of travelling opportunities.
Actuarial Work: Graduate Area of Work
Actuaries help business organisations predict and manage risks.
As an actuary, your work revolves heavily around the prediction, evaluation, and management of risks using a combination of statistical/mathematical models and commercial awareness. You may also be invited to advise clients about your findings as well as help them develop potential solutions.
For this reason, your job scope can be very diverse, encompassing a good mix of client-facing and calculation tasks.
Among some of the key day-to-day responsibilities as an actuary include analysing statistical data, preparing reports and presentations, as well as working with IT professionals to develop and update systems to incorporate solutions to the risks. In some cases, you may even be assigned to develop an entirely new financial product.
Actuaries are greatly needed in a variety of sectors, including banks and financial services organisations, insurance companies, specialist consultancies, and even accounting firms and investment banks.
You are generally required to possess sufficiently high grades in an actuarial science degree; however, some employers do accept graduates with a background in other numerate degrees, such as statistics, economics, finance, or mathematics, provided you showcase a strong understanding of the financial industry.
Having a degree in actuarial science may also exempt you from some of the professional qualification exams that you need to take to become a certified actuary.
Graduate employees typically start their career as a trainee, assisting senior colleagues in their duties as they train and pick up the necessary skills required to advance in this career path. You’ll spend a big portion of your time handling calculations and using pre-constructed models to generate financial forecasts.
As you gain more experience, you will be given greater responsibilities such as leading projects, constructing, updating and analysing financial and forecasting models, and handling client relationships.
Most employers encourage you to begin studying for a professional qualification/fellowship as soon as you get on board, which often translates to a challenging time balancing between work and study. However, most organisations are very supportive of their staff members who are pursuing a fellowship, offering financial assistance and ample study leaves to lighten their struggles.
Upon gaining their certification, most actuaries tend to specialise in a specific area of interest, gaining in-depth knowledge, experience, and reputation as an expert in that particular field.
That said, there are many actuaries who have found opportunities in other seemingly unrelated areas of management as well. For instance, actuaries have been known to venture into infrastructure and climate change projects, as well as the healthcare and data science industry.
Aside from possessing a high level of numeracy, you need to be good at problem solving, research, and analysis. Good interpersonal, communication, and presentation skills are also important as your job scope includes presenting data/solutions to your clients, most of whom possess minimal understanding of actuarial science.
Actuaries should also be flexible, adaptable, and able to handle ambiguity as the job scope can be very diverse, with ad-hoc tasks and projects interrupting your day regularly. Accountability is equally important as it’s crucial that you diligently follow up on your clients throughout the process of implementing a solution.
Ups and downs
As an actuary, you’ll be involved in a variety of tasks and industries, making your job an extremely interesting and challenging one. This is made even more exciting by the rapid development of the financial industry by IT and technology, leading to new risks and the need for creative solutions.
Actuaries also enjoy steady career advancements and attractive remunerations, especially upon obtaining a fellowship from a recognised actuarial association.
That said, the workload may get stressful and lead to extra hours – especially when you’re in the process of pursuing a fellowship.
Corporate Banking: Graduate Area of Work
Corporate bankers provide financial advice and offer the bank’s products and services to commercial clients to help businesses grow.
Corporate banking is similar to retail banking, but instead of dealing with everyday people, corporate bankers deal with companies. Clients from this segment typically range from SMEs to large corporations.
Those who work in this field are employed by commercial banks that offer corporate clients financial services such as treasury advice, loans and credit, trade finance and more.
Some of a corporate banker’s responsibilities include meeting with clients to discuss their financial needs and to provide financial advice accordingly. They also offer advice about mergers, acquisitions and capital markets to help clients make sound financial decisions.
Like most careers in the banking sector, corporate banking often entails high levels of responsibility. The prospect of upward mobility and impressive benefits for employees, however, makes the sector a popular career choice among graduates. For this reason, competition can be fierce.
As a result, recruiters prefer applicants who have done an internship in this area of work as they would have a better understanding of the field and would be more likely to hit the ground running as soon as they start work.
Most corporate bankers enter this field through a graduate scheme and start out as analysts. Your training will involve rotations across varying teams to learn about the different areas of work and to develop an understanding of the industry as a whole.
You may also receive the opportunity to shadow senior relationship managers to client meetings and observe how they sell the bank’s products. During these sessions, you will be able to familiarise yourself with key corporate banking products and to pick up crucial client-facing skills.
After a year or two under the graduate scheme, you will be able to progress to a junior or an associate level, and will gradually be given the responsibility to handle clients on your own.
During your years as an associate, you are expected to establish relationships with corporate clients, which may take a few years to build as it requires experience and skill to successfully gain their trust. To rise up the ranks, you need to build a network of external relationships while still maintaining a strong relationship with your existing clients, and help the bank secure important accounts.
It is not necessary for you to hold a finance-related degree to enter this field. Recruiters typically look for applicants with skills such as numeracy, negotiation, interpersonal and analytical ability. The need to build relationships in corporate banking also calls for qualitative skills and high emotional intelligence.
Apart from these skills, internship and training experience have become increasingly sought after by employers. It is thus advisable for you to attend apprenticeship programmes and internships during university to build up a repertoire of skills and possibly have an advantage over other applicants.
Pros and cons
As with all client-facing jobs, you may encounter demanding and difficult clients from time to time. Additionally, the working environment is often fast-paced and high-stress in nature.
However, as a corporate banker, you will be able to work with a variety of products as opposed to being pigeonholed to working on just one product for the length of your career. As such, you would be able to flex your intellectual and creative muscles as you work on successfully matching the right products to your clients.
Web Development and e-Commerce: Graduate Area of Work
Building a strong and reputable online and web presence, and conducting trading and transactions through the internet.
The internet business sector – focused on developing products and services for online consumers – has grown in size and importance to the extent that most major organisations aren’t considered complete without an online presence. It is dominated primarily by two major players: financial services businesses and online retail stores.
For financial services businesses, the internet delivers a win-win situation that benefits both the banks and their clients. Users will be able to perform basic banking tasks (e.g. monetary transfers, bill payments, etc.) round the clock without being physically present at the bank, and banks are also able to save on certain operational costs, such as on marketing or processing fees.
Likewise, retail businesses also reap cost savings when they shift their operations online, enabling them to offer more competitive prices to consumers. Online systems also help retailers manage their supply chains more efficiently. Lazada, Rakuten and eBay are some examples of major online retailers in Singapore.
Given the high level of interest in e-commerce and the online marketplace here, there are plenty of recruitment opportunities in this sector. However, they are often not publicly advertised, especially for tech start-ups.
Most start-ups in the ecommerce industry tend to start out small, so they usually hire through word-of-mouth, recommendations, or internship conversions. In other words, it might be a good idea for you to start job searching during your time in university, taking up an internship and then converting your internship into a full-time position.
Web development opportunities are also often available in larger, more established organisations, although the recruitment process may be considerably more formal and structured. Rotations are the norm before you are assigned to a position that you’re most comfortable with, and it may take 3 to 12 months, depending on the arrangement of the company.
Recruiting requirements can vary – tech start-ups in e-commerce look out for candidates with strong academic backgrounds, equipped with technical skills such as programming, coding, business analysis, and quality assurance skills. A technical degree is not mandatory, but do take modules in coding or pick it up on the side to enhance your employability
As trends and technologies vacillate rapidly, employers will look out for qualities like enthusiasm and commercial awareness – vital prerequisites to break into the e-commerce/web development industry.
Do pay attention to new regulations and certifications introduced to the sector as well – the e-commerce industry is still relatively young in many Southeast Asian countries, and many governments are still testing out ways to regulate the industry.
Other sought-after qualities include being willing to learn, quick to adapt, having an eye for detail, and the ability to deal with ambiguity.
Pros and cons
If you thrive in a challenging and fast-paced environment, this industry is for you. You will be able to see almost immediate results, and many in this industry take pride in knowing they have transformed the way people trade and transact, besides the opportunity to work with cutting edge technology.
That said, dealing with the rapid changes in technology and business processes can be tiring after a while. Issues such as scammers, cyber security risks, and cybercrime are also constant threats that you will be expected to handle.