Seah Yew Ngee
My company and my job
I made the decision to join CapitaLand and it proved to be one of the best decisions I have made. What appealed to me was the range of opportunities offered under CapitaLand’s Graduate Development Programme (GDP). In my short tenure, I was offered a plethora of options across different functions within the CapitaLand Group: Internal Audit, Investor Relations, Corporate Development and Sales & Marketing (Residential) in Vietnam.
Under the guidance of my programme manager, I took up an Investor Relations position in the manager of CapitaLand’s commercial real estate investment trust (REIT), CapitaLand Commercial Trust Management Limited, in a bid to better understand the office sector. The role entailed compiling monthly and quarterly investor-related presentations, aggregating analyst reports on the office sector, and ad-hoc studies on similar REIT markets around the world. It taught me about REITs and most importantly, how you can learn a great deal about listed companies just from their reports.
Subsequently, an opportunity presented itself to join the newly established Corporate Development department, which is responsible for driving innovation across the Group. The role entails being CapitaLand’s eyes and ears for disruptive business models and relevant technologies which can augment the customer experience and improve our real estate capabilities. It involves a lot of reading, meeting start-ups and funnelling leads to the relevant innovation teams on the ground. Most importantly, it taught me to be always mindful of the tangible value technology creates.
How I got my job
I went through an online assessment and four interviews. Interviews are dialogues between you and the interviewer, so they are two parties with each trying to find out more about one another. So do your homework, learn about the company and your interviewers, and steer the conversation towards areas where you can draw on your relevant experiences. I believe my vision for the future of retail was what helped me stand out. Doing a short stint in a digital native start-up also helped anchor my views on how technology is changing the way we live, work and play.
The highs and lows
What keeps me motivated are the people I work with. Who I work with is as important as what I do. Coming together to get a job done means more to me than the work itself. I have been blessed with co-workers who are willing to go the extra mile for one another.
As each rotation under the GDP spans four to six months, there is a real pressure to learn fast and add value to your department. For me, Investor Relations was quite a challenge! Especially when I had to decipher jargon-riddled analyst reports without a finance/business background. Thankfully, I could always consult my colleagues who were often more than happy to guide me.
My happiest moment at work
Despite doing something different from what I studied, I always believe that I can find my niche and add value. One such moment came when I was able to tap my engineering knowledge to successfully automate the collation of monthly financial figures using the Bloomberg terminal. Doing so saved me a couple of hours each month!
Training and support
Given the flexible nature of the GDP, there was no formalised training before each rotation. Most of what I did, I learnt on the job. But on the softer side, there are always helpful seniors around who are more than happy to share their experiences.
There are also other forms of learning. The CapitaLand Institute of Management and Business (CLIMB) offers a wide variety of short courses spanning one to three days. Courses are also held frequently – a few each month – and the selection of courses can be quite interesting, such as “Human-Centred Innovation” and “Corporate Storytelling: Using stories to Inform, Influence, Inspire and Lead”! The best part about these courses is that you also get to mingle with colleagues from different business units and learn about what they do.
Work is a marathon, not a sprint. There will always be outstanding deadlines and new tasks in the pipeline so it all boils down to time management. Learn to prioritise (often easier said than done), and dedicate some time to what’s important to you (i.e. family, friends, health). No matter how busy you are, there is always time to eat. And what I really love about CapitaLand is that it provides many avenues to do so with your colleagues – lunch time talks, fireside chats, monthly dessert treats and even durian parties!
I too was unsure of what I wanted to pursue when I started university. With so many things to choose from – summer schools, co-curricular activities, overseas internships, industrial attachments etc – it can be quite daunting to start. But nonetheless, do something – anything. Because anything trumps nothing. If it is intimidating, grab a friend. If someone asks you, say yes. At the end of four years, would you want to tell your interviewers you “just studied”, or would you want to have more to say?