Visa picks Singaporean as torchbearer at Rio Olympics

A Singaporean is among five employees of Visa Worldwide who will be torchbearers at the Rio Olympics in July as part of a company strategy to reward outstanding employees.

Employees at the credit card giant were asked to nominate co-workers to be torchbearers for the event in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil by submitting a one-minute video explaining how that person embodied the Olympic flame values of peace, unity and friendship.

Ms Grace Tan, who is director of corporate relations for Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei at the firm, was one of only five across the world to make the cut. "I would never have imagined myself to become a torchbearer for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games given that I'm neither a sportsman nor a celebrity," she said.

Ms Ooi Huey Tyng, Visa country manager for Singapore and Brunei, said the company, which is a worldwide Olympic sponsor, came up with the contest to "give employees an opportunity to be part of the Games, even if they don't break any records or win a medal".

Other selected employees are from Visa's offices in North America, Central Europe, the Middle East and Latin America. All will go to different parts of Rio - Ms Tan is headed for Gramado - but they will not be staying for the Games.

Visa is not alone in coming up with more creative ways to improve employee welfare. Accounting firm KPMG Singapore organised its own music festival at Timbre at The Arts House earlier this month, drawing a large crowd of employees looking to relax after a long day.

The festival, open only to KPMG employees, saw several local bands, including Jack and Rai, Tabula and Trisno Trio, perform amid a free flow of food and drinks.

"The idea came about as we wanted to cater to the music enthusiasts in the firm," said Mr Quek Shu Ping, head of people, performance and culture at KPMG Singapore.

Employees at the festival told The Straits Times it was an opportunity to unwind and mingle with their colleagues. Audit associate Rebecca Lim said she was looking forward to the next one already. "I get to enjoy great food, relax with my colleagues and celebrate to great tunes by our local bands."

Mr Santiago Ramos, who works in the risk consulting department, added: "I used to work in Switzerland and we had dinner and dances, but they're nothing like this big summer music party."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 16, 2016, with the headline 'Visa picks Singaporean as torchbearer at Rio Olympics'. Print Edition | Subscribe