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Beyond Borders: Seeking Opportunities & Global Development

As part of the YWLC Mentorship Programme, a series of Fireside Chats have been organised to provide mentees with opportunities to hear from mentors regarding a series of workplace-related topics.

An esteemed panel comprising Ms Ong Ai Hua, Head of Government Affairs & Policy, APAC, Johnson & Johnson, Ms Penny Low, Founder & President of Social Innovation Park, as well as Ms Jowyn Goh, APAC Marketing Director, Sports Medicine, Smith & Nephew shared their insights on going beyond borders in pursuing job opportunities on 27 November. Timely, as 2021 draws to a close and many are reflecting on whether there are opportunities globally especially since the pandemic has shut borders over the past two years.

The panelists shared key tips on how to seek opportunities globally, and how to thrive overseas:

1. You’ve got to want it

Ai Hua shared that she knew she wanted to work outside of Singapore upon graduation as she had an appetite for adventure. This unyielding thirst led her to pursue her first job as a management trainee at an MNC in Japan. Her advice? Be open to learning, and raise your hand when the opportunities arise. Don’t be too fearful even if you feel like you do not know everything because most others don’t either.

Penny echoed similar sentiments, as going abroad to work entails a lot of uncertainty, and the stars may align but most importantly, the individual has to want the opportunity. When the chance comes, stay open-minded, and be flexible and adaptable.

2. Prepare for the move

Penny shared that there are many opportunities now, especially in the IT, AI and healthcare sectors, which are facing skills mismatch. If you have the skills in these sectors, there is a huge demand for manpower globally and tap on networks to seek them out.

On the other hand, Jowyn sought opportunities within her own firm and moved to China after working in Singapore, giving her exposure to a different market within the same firm. Keep your eyes peeled for opportunities that are within your company.

At the same time, consult with family members and partners to make arrangements back at home. Support from family members is of paramount importance, and it would be best to sort out care arrangements for elderly parents, decide on where to raise a family, and whether both spouses are able to move overseas or if one should commute. Share your concerns with your family, talk it out and there will always be a solution.

3. Be mindful of cultural differences and be adaptable

Having worked across various cultures, the panelists were very candid to recount their experiences. Jowyn shared how that meant adhering to customs in Pakistan when she was working at the hospitals there, and the other panelists also chimed in to share how they had to adjust their working styles to lead teams in a foreign country.

Assimilating into a new environment is not always easy, and it comes to a point where you realise that you cannot make friends with everybody. However, if you are sincerely interested in learning about their culture, and show a keen interest, most of your co-workers or neighbours would definitely be glad to share their culture.

Pro-tip from Penny who has hitch-hiked in several countries – food always brings people together. Learn a Singaporean dish or two, and bring local condiments to easily whip up a dish for sharing. Or pick up a skillset where you can give the fruit of the benefit to the other party.

Participants gleaned many insights from the experience of the panelists, and the majority were either looking to move into a regional role, already in a regional/global role, or keen to find out more about what a move would entail.

We are very grateful to be able to walk on the shoulders of giants who have gone before us, and who are very forthcoming in sharing their experiences with us.


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Organising Committee: Mentorship Organising Team: Eileen Teoh, Nicolette Tan Speakers: Ong Ai Hua, Penny Low, Jowyn Goh Artwork: Lim Mei Yu, Rachel Tan

Author: Dorothy Siok Editor: Joey Ong

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