Fall 2015 Conversations The View From Singapore Main
Getty Images

The View From Singapore

On this island of gardens in Southeast Asia, Booth’s alumni roots grow deep.

It’s been a festive year for Singapore, which this year is celebrating 50 years of independence. The city also is home to a thriving community of nearly 650 Booth alumni who hold top jobs in trade, banking, and real estate. They get together to swap business and personal advice, help with hiring and job referrals, and even advise on start-ups. Many hold regional responsibilities that require travel—and foster connections—throughout the continent.

The Singapore Experts

Toby Dodd, ’13 (AXP-12) Managing director, Cushman & Wakefield
Marijohn Sampson, ’09 (AXP-8) Chief strategic development officer, CADG
Sarita Singh, ’07 (AXP-6) Head of channel and internal enablement, Google
Low Soon Teck, ’04 (AXP-3) CFO, RCMA Group Pte. Ltd.
Jeanette Wong, ’02 (AXP-1) Group executive of institutional banking, DBS Group

 

Low Soon Teck, ’04 (AXP-3), CFO at RCMA Group Pte. Ltd., makes a point to attend a monthly dinner with alumni from his Executive MBA cohort. “We talk about managing people and talent at the workplace,” said Low, whose firm dates from colonial times as a marketer of rubber and has since expanded into agricultural commodities. “Competition for talent is intense in Singapore, where  the unemployment rate is almost zero.”

When Sarita Singh, ’07 (AXP-6), wrestles with a business problem outside her expertise, she seeks out fellow Booth alumni. Singh began her career in Australia, and has worked in Singapore for nearly 15 years. At Google, she heads a team that supports the sales force for the Asia-Pacific region and she travels often. “I don’t generally go to any city without looking somebody up,” she said. “I’ll just literally pick up the phone and say, ‘Hey, I’m from Booth, can you come and grab a drink with me?’ And generally the answer is yes.”

Top 10 High-Level Job Titles
  • Executive/Managing director (74)
  • CEO (27)
  • EVP/SVP (18)
  • Partner (17)
  • CFO (11)
  • COO (10)
  • Principal (10)
  • President (7)
  • Chairperson (5)
  • CMO (2)

Marijohn Sampson, ’09 (AXP-8), chief strategic development officer at CADG, which develops infrastructure projects in war-torn areas, looks far afield in mining the Booth network.

A native of Venezuela, Sampson lived in Italy before relocating to Singapore nearly 15 years ago. Moving CADG operations to Africa from Afghanistan and finding reliable partners for services and labor presented a challenge. She reached out to Booth graduates in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Zambia, and South Africa, many of whom hold high-ranking posts at financial institutions and have  a robust network of contacts.  “I don’t know what I would  have done without them,” Sampson said. 

I don’t know what I would have done without them.

Marijohn Sampson

Many Booth graduates reach out to Jeanette Wong, ’02 (AXP-1), a member of the first Executive MBA class in Asia. As group executive of institutional banking at DBS Group, she is one of the highest-ranking alumni in Singapore.

“Sometimes it’s for career advice, sometimes it’s networking, or pitching business to the bank,” Wong said. When she enrolled at Booth, she was working in the fast-paced global markets businesses at J.P. Morgan in Asia, but looking to move out of the trading room where few stay beyond age 40. “I tell people to think about their career runway if they would still like to work in a bank,” she said.

Top Employers
  1. Credit Suisse (10)
  2. McKinsey & Company (6)
  3. National University of Singapore (6)
  4. Cisco Systems Inc. (4)
  5. Citibank, N.A. (4)
  6. Google Inc. (4)
  7. Government of Singapore
  8. Investment Corp. (4)
  9. Microsoft Corp (4)
  1. Standard Chartered Bank (4)
  2. Barclays Capital (3)
  3. BNP Paribas (3)
  4. Deutsche Bank AG (3)
  5. OAKS Family Office Pte Ltd. (3)
  6. Oracle Systems Corp. (3)
  7. Singapore Power Ltd. (3)
  8. Standard Chartered Bank (3)
  9. The Boston Consulting Group Inc. (3)
22%

The number of alumni working in investing and investment banking, the top career specialty in Singapore.


The Booth network even can be beneficial to family members, said Toby Dodd, ’13 (AXP-12), managing director at real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield, who was raised and educated in England. During Dodd’s Booth graduation festivities, his fiancée met the wife of another graduate and the pair brainstormed an idea for a start-up that reviews online shopping sites.

“The two women connected immediately and have been able to fill a gap in the eCommerce marketplace,” Dodd said. “My Booth colleague and I are both advisors, and all of the rigorous questioning and analysis from Booth has helped us to better strategize and shape the direction of the company.” The start-up received its first round of funding earlier this year, some of which came from Booth alumni throughout Asia.

—BY JUDITH CROWN

Booth Selects

Conversations The View From Singapore Gardens By The BayThe view: Mount Faber

“Some would say that the best view in Singapore is at the top of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel or the Swissôtel. Mount Faber bests the hotels, offering a panoramic view of the city and a more intimate perspective on the heartlands, where most Singaporeans live. You can even see Indonesia on a clear day. Mount Faber is accessible by car, but for people who prefer to hike or bike, there also are many trails leading up the 300-foot climb.”—Low Soon Teck

The business lunch: The Black Swan

“This is a fantastic upscale venue with great décor located in a former bank building downtown by Raffles Place. The restaurant offers a two- or three-course prix fixe that is reasonably priced with an excellent selection. If you have time, stick around for the afternoon tea or head upstairs for a cocktail at the speakeasy-style bar on the mezzanine level. —Toby Dodd


The laid-back lunch: Kilo

“I like this little restaurant. They have two locations in Singapore—the location on Orchard Road is great for informal business lunches and the one in Kampong Bugis is perfect for weekends. I love that they use fresh ingredients. The menu is kind of a mix of Japanese and Italian. Sounds posh but it’s actually down to earth. For lunch, I often order the quinoa with vegetables.”—Marijohn Sampson


The free afternoon: Asian Civilisations Museum

“This museum is absolutely brilliant because it shows how different cultures have evolved through the centuries. It’s super interesting to see all the civilizations that make up Asia—their migration patterns and their customs. The space and the collection are not huge, so you won’t end up spending all day. You learn so much, and it inspires me to understand that I live in a truly interesting and vibrant part of the world.”—Sarita Singh

The hotel: New Majestic Hotel

Major international business hotels are the same everywhere, so I always try a boutique hotel. The one I most recommend in Singapore is in Chinatown, in what was the red-light district during Japanese occupation. It’s small and cozy, with interesting architecture, and each room has its own design.”—Marijohn Sampson


The outdoor activity: Cycling

We recently had some American customers who wanted to see the city. We took them cycling through the parks—you can go from one to another through a series of bike paths called the Park Connector Network (PCN). It skirts many of the neighborhoods. You can probably cover the whole island in a few hours. And you can rent from any number of bike shops.”—Jeanette Wong

Conversations The View From Singapore Bat

The locals-worthy tourist attraction: Night Safari

I’ve been to the safari at the Singapore Zoo many times, but I never tire of bringing visitors there, especially children. It’s a park for nocturnal animals, so it’s open only in the evening. It is a unique experience to see animals native to Asia such as Sri Lankan leopards and Malayan tigers. Don’t miss the bat enclosure.” —Low Soon Teck