Updated: Sep 7, 2018
DBS Group Holdings & DBS Bank
Can you tell us what was your experience in school like?
I actually joined NUS in 1964, when Business Studies was under the Department of Economics. In my second year, I applied to the Business School when it was formed, and was personally interviewed by Professor Zecha, the head of the school. I felt that joining the Business School program was an adventure. I firmly believe that people should study what interests them. I am not in favor of pursuing an education to fit a job, because you will never really know if you like the job or not until you’ve had some experience in it.
Can you tell us what were your considerations in selecting your career path?
Over-planning is not how we should treat our career. We try to do what we think we want to do, but we should let life lead the way. Always maintain that sense of adventure.
When I was offered to be the Group CEO of ST group, it meant that I had to be in charge of a whole range of industries. I asked myself “could a banker really do this?”. My experience in banking had exposed me to a range of industries, but as a CEO I would have to manage them. I finally decided that there was no harm in trying, and no harm in learning, and took it as an adventure once more.
How do you view these challenges, and how do you handle them?
Hardships and setbacks mould your character. It is not your successes. Your successes do not mould you. In fact, they may spoil you. When faced with such challenges, we should take a step back to reflect and think of the big “why”. We may have to reposition ourselves, other times we may to re-think your approach,. Learn to accept that nothing is absolutely necessary for your career to have. Learn to be contented.
I have also been what is called a “trouble shooter” these days. I have always challenged the status quo, and my favorite question to ask is “can we do better that this?”. It is never easy, because these challenges are usually not well-received and people are resistant to change of mindsets as well as culture. My advice is to have the courage to challenge convention.
Do you have any advice for our young readers who are just starting on their career, and those looking to climb the ladder?
As you move up, you need to have a range of experiences. You need to have some breadth, some overseas experience. As a CEO, you cannot spend 20 years in a single department.
For full stories/ transcript, check out our publication and come for Connexxion 2018, you might get a chance to meet this alumni.
Spotlight stories is a program that reaches out to alumni at different career stages to hear about their stories and life experiences. Run by the BSA Youth Wing, Spotlight Stories interviews are conducted by NUS Biz Undergrad student ambassadors selected through an interview process every year. Students get to meet alumni at their workplaces to conduct an hour long of in-depth interview and build closer relationships.
Interested to be a future student ambassadors or alumni interviewees, join us at Connexxion 2018 to be part of the family!