Young PMEs urged to gain overseas experience

Those eyeing top posts in global firms must match up to foreign talent, says labour chief

Younger professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) should move out of their comfort zone and experience life in another country, labour chief Chan Chun Sing told those who attended a leadership conference yesterday.

Mr Chan, who is secretary-general of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), said companies which set up headquarters in Singapore look to hire people who know the markets in South-east Asia and beyond.

"They don't care whether it's a Singaporean or non-Singaporean, that's the blunt truth. They care about whether their team has the global perspective," he noted.

To compete for positions in top management here, Singaporeans will need not just the right attitude, skills and knowledge but also experience and exposure, he told around 700 PMEs. They will have to match up to foreigners who come to Singapore with experience in their home country.

To this end, NTUC is in talks with chief executives of large companies to work out opportunities and partnerships to help young PMEs get access to opportunities overseas, he said.

Mr Chan, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, encouraged the audience to add value to their experiences by trying to live in other places besides popular ones such as New York City and London.

"Life is not going to be as easy as having Orchard Road next door, another mall next door, and the pay may not even be as high, but what it does is it accumulates experience," he said.

DBS Group chief executive Piyush Gupta also stressed the importance of international exposure and a broad range of experiences in different office functions.

He was one of 15 leaders from top management who spoke at the full-day event at the NTUC Centre.

Mr Gupta suggested that rather than just responding reactively to an "inbox" of things workers are told to do, they can consciously create an "outbox" of ideas about what more can be done.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 25, 2015, with the headline 'Young PMEs urged to gain overseas experience'. Print Edition | Subscribe