Singtel goes all out to woo new engineers

Ms Chua says Singtel wants to ensure engineers remain in the field. -- ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG
Ms Chua says Singtel wants to ensure engineers remain in the field. -- ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

Telco ups salaries, offers job rotation programme, tertiary scholarships

SINGTEL bumped up salaries for new engineers last year in a bid to attract and retain staff for new business areas like cyber security analytics and smart cities.

Talented young engineers will also be selected for a two-year management associate programme, where they will be rotated across businesses and work on special projects.

Group chief executive Chua Sock Koong said yesterday that the telco has significantly adjusted compensation for engineers. Their salaries will be equivalent to what the top 25 per cent of engineers starting out are earning.

Singtel did not release the revised pay scale.

However, industry observers say that newly minted engineering graduates are probably getting between $2,600 and $3,400 a month.

Ms Chua, who was speaking to The Straits Times after the firm's results briefing, added: "We're doing this because we want to ensure that engineers remain engineers when they graduate and not join management consultancy and investment banking."

Singtel also awards scholarships to students in institutions of higher learning to study engineering and related courses.

"There will be many opportunities for engineers to learn on the job and also for job rotation," said Ms Chua.

Singtel has also introduced different stock option plans for its staff who work in digital businesses like Amobee, a marketing subsidiary. Staff in these areas get shares in the businesses they work in.

"They will benefit if the digital business is publicly listed. If not, over time, we can grow their long-term incentives into Singtel's plans," noted Ms Chua.

She told The Straits Times last September that the telco will invest $500 million over the next five years and hire 1,000 engineers as part of a three-pronged strategy to build expertise in cyber security, smart cities and analytics.

Ms Chua said yesterday that these plans were well underway, with cyber security expertise built up and a monitoring centre constructed.

Singtel is also building a lab for security testing, she added.

This lab will work on realistic cyber threat simulation with customers to enable competency building.

These efforts are part of the firm's five-year transformation as it seeks a new revenue mix and new businesses. It is now midway in this effort.

Ms Chua said that the positive full-year results - the telco posted a 3.5 per cent hike in net profit to $3.78 billion and a 2.2 per cent growth in revenue of $17.22 billion - indicate that its core business is gradually being transformed from just supplying circuits and switches to carrying valuable data like content and video.

She said: "If we don't transform and change, we will become totally irrelevant."

chngkeg@sph.com.sg