Tag Archives: Singapore

Taylor Hamilton Sees Another Kind of Business Culture

Taylor is a current student in Maxwell’s joint MPA/MAIR program, which is a Master of Arts in International Relations and a Master of Public Administration. She participated in the Singapore Summer Internship Program this past summer.

Even before learning of the university-sponsored internship program, I had always been intrigued with Singapore, for a few reasons. One reason is that I have dedicated my academic life to studying the cultures and economics of East Asia. Another aspect I found interesting was its political system. Though small, Singapore is the world’s most successful modern autocracy (although it is often referred to as an “illiberal democracy”). I found it a refreshing example in the face of the pro-democracy perspective touted in American academia. Moreover, if I wanted to live and work in Singapore, I could do so without learning another language (Americans. Amirite?).

Taylor Hamilton.

While in Singapore I worked for the Stewardship Asia Centre, a small non-profit endowed by Temasek Holdings. The small office afforded me a hands-on role with many of the projects the office had undertaken to promote corporate stewardship in East Asia and the Pacific. My writing and web development skills improved dramatically due to the nature of the content creation work I was assigned. I was regularly assigned research, which I would then have to present to one big-shot or another. However, these experiences were surprisingly secondary to the perspectives I was exposed to during my 10-week stay.

Singapore from above.

I must firstly admit that I initially held the unconscious assumption that since business was conducted in English my work environment in Singapore was going to be similar to that of the U.S. My normative assumptions went unchallenged for a couple weeks before I began to understand Singaporean office culture. The company hierarchy was built on the foundation that age and experience were necessary for effective leadership, with emphasis on the former. Due to the company’s relationship with the government, much consideration went into how influential people would be affected by our office’s actions (Did I mention that Temasek was led by the Prime Minister’s wife?). Furthermore, the way in which work was decided or problems were solved usually began with informal meetings among top management. In Western societies, we tend to frown upon CEOs having “backroom” dealings but my coworkers here have referred to these practices as the “Asian way” (their words not mine). I found out they were specifically referring to methods that were subtle and collaborative, rather than demanding and immodest.

Yet, even among these macro-level dynamics, my office easily demonstrated how the work performed by other interns and myself helps achieve the long-term goals of corporate stewardship promotion. I will forever appreciate the efforts of my supervisors in allowing me to see numerous projects from start to finish, providing me with more practical lessons in a few weeks than I have been afforded in some whole semesters.

Singapore’s Chinatown.

Singapore Summer Internships Program

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Alex Macdonald Gains International Business Experience in Singapore

Alex is currently completing his joint MAIR/MAECN, which is a Master of Arts in International Relations and a Master of Arts in Economics. His internship was completed as part of the Singapore Summer Internship Program.

When we discuss the pivot to Asia in international relations, we usually refer to a realignment of US foreign policy. However, over the past twenty years, unprecedented Asian economic growth has led the whole global economy to pivot to Asia. While China usually takes the spotlight, the so-called “Asian Tiger” countries have played an essential role in this transformation. Exemplary of these countries is Singapore, which in the past fifty years has gone from being a minor colonial trading post to becoming one of the world’s most important ports and a major global financial hub.

Alex with some of his Pratt and Whitney co-workers at the Geylang Serai Ramadan bazaar.

This summer I had the opportunity, through S.U. Abroad’s Singapore program, to immerse myself in the vibrant business culture of this incredible country. I spent the summer as a finance and management intern at Pratt and Whitney, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of military and commercial airplane engines. In my role, I was given a variety projects on which to work ranging from regular finance-related tasks, such as maintaining the monthly profit and loss report, to process improvement projects aimed at streamlining production, purchasing, and shipping to deal with the large amount of growth the company is experiencing.

In addition to the many finance and management related skills which I was able to further develop in my role, the opportunity to finally work in a region of the world which I had studied academically for so long was invaluable. As someone who hopes to work internationally in the private sector, this internship exposed me to a very different business culture from what I was used to and has given me a solid experiential foundation for my future in the international business world.

While I was in Singapore, I was also lucky enough to be able to take advantage of its proximity to the rest of South-East Asia and was able to do some traveling in my time off from work. Overall, I am very thankful to have had this opportunity to work in Singapore this summer. It was an amazing experience and has reaffirmed my interest in working in Asia as well as sparking an even deeper interest in South-East Asia in particular.

Alex at Singapore’s famous Gardens by the Bay.

Singapore Summer Internships Program

More Global Programs

Rosalina Jowers Explores Stewardship in Asia

Rosalina Jowers is a second year graduate student in the joint MAIR/MSPR Public Diplomacy program. She was a research assistant for the Public Relations department of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and is currently a research assistant in the Tully Center for Free Speech during the fall of 2016. She participated in the Singapore Summer Internship Program during the summer of 2016 and interned with the Stewardship Asia Centre.

This summer, I had the opportunity to intern with the Stewardship Asia Centre in Singapore. Throughout my three months in the position, I worked as both a research assistant and a public
relations and marketing intern for the team.

SAC is a thought-leadership center based in Singapore that conducts research and holds regional events to advocate for corporate stewardship, governance, and responsibility in the private sector. The center holds an annual event inviting international business leaders, CEOs, investors, and government officials to discuss best practices, challenges, and emerging themes that impact corporate stewardship and add to the existing literature. Within their Knowledge Center, SAC produces white papers, media articles, and has recently published a book about the necessity and prevalence of stewardship internationally.

Due to the small size of my team, I played a multifaceted position and was able to become thoroughly involved in various roles. My primary role was to contribute to SAC’s Knowledge Center by conducting research about stewardship in regards to cultural differences, family businesses, and sovereign wealth funds. I compiled my findings into three separate research articles that will be published within the Knowledge Center and used for future book publications and media articles.

Secondly, I worked with SAC’s public relations team in event planning, media relations, and brief writing. SAC’s annual roundtable event was held towards the end of my internship, and I was able to help with the planning, implementation and evaluation of our media and event strategies. I helped pitch and coordinate with media personnel, assist in interviews with key speakers, and ensure the smooth running of the event. For SAC itself, I was able to create the
event insights report, informational videos about the center and the event, and also create briefs for the center’s CEO for his regional speaking platforms promoting stewardship and CSR.

Lastly, I worked with the marketing team in promoting the center’s first publication, Inspiring Stewardship. In collaborating with the book’s publisher, Wiley Asia, I helped create a marketing plan for both the regional and international promotion of the book, communicate with key media contacts in Singapore, and plan a book launch event that will be held in Singapore this upcoming fall.

Aside from the valuable experience I gained throughout these varying roles, I was able to network with a variety of top executives from the Southeast Asia region to expand my network and acquire valuable contacts for the future. Thankfully and because of this experience, I gained valuable insights into the work, social and political environment of Singapore, and was able to explore the region unlike I have ever been able to before.

Rosalina Jowers at Temasek's Stewardship Asia Centre

Rosalina Jowers at Temasek’s Stewardship Asia Centre

Joshua Klein Contributes to ASEAN Business Outlook at AmCham Singapore

Joshua Klein graduated from the MAIR program with a focus on East Asia. He participated in the Singapore Summer Practicum during the summer of 2015 and took advantage of the SU Beijing Center where he took courses at Tsinghua University during the fall of 2015.

Annual ASEAN Business Outlook Survey

Annual ASEAN Business Outlook Survey

This summer, I accepted an internship at the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore. I worked for three months as a “Government Relations Intern,” for the Public Affairs and Government Relations team.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore (AmCham) is the leading international business association in Singapore, with over 5,000 members representing 750 companies. American companies’ direct investment in Singapore exceeds and estimated US $180 billion.

The Government Affairs team represents member companies at the highest level of government in Singapore and Washington D.C. AmCham played a significant role in the development of the U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreement and meets regularly with senior members of the Singapore Government to represent the interests of member corporations. In addition, the American Chamber of Commerce presents weekly lectures that continue to educate member companies about new business developments occurring in Singapore and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations).

As a Government Relations intern, my main task was to draft and analyze data for AmCham’s annual publication, the ASEAN Business Outlook Survey (ABOS). This publication shares the insights of senior American business leaders across the ASEAN region. These respondents are charged with making investment decisions on behalf of their companies, offering a unique opportunity to shape the character of development across ASEAN.

My supervisor was very helpful in assisting in the meeting of member company executives and providing me with opportunities to attend many of the events AmCham hosts. Through these opportunities, I was able to network and expand my contact base in Southeast Asia. In addition, I was able to interact with other staff members in the office who were all great and welcoming. They taught me everything from scratch, always answered my questions in detail, and shared their career stories and working experiences generously.

I really appreciate this internship experience. It exposed the American business sentiment in ASEAN while providing me with the freedom to contribute to the annual ASEAN Business Outlook Survey publication.

Students interested in an internship at the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore should contact Gary LaPoint at gelapoin@syr.edu. He is a Professor of Supply Chain Practice in the Whitman School of Management and Head of the Singapore Summer Practicum. AmCham Singapore is interested in Maxwell interns annually.

Joshua Klein in front of AmCham Singapore logo

Maxwell students Joshua Klein and Gabriela Luciano at AmCham Singapore

Read the ASEAN Business Outlook Survey 2016>>

Alex Jorgensen, Learning the Theoretical and Practical Side of Stewardship

Alex Jorgensen, MAIR student

Alex Jorgensen, MAIR/MSPR (Public Diplomacy) student

Alex Jorgensen is a Public Diplomacy student pursuing both a Master’s of International Relations at the Maxwell School and a Master’s of Science in Public Relations at the S.I. Newhouse School. He participated in the Singapore Summer Practicum.

Stewardship Asia Centre: A new thought leadership center in the East

This summer I had the opportunity to work at the Stewardship Asia Centre in Singapore. Stewardship Asia Centre (SAC) is known as a thought leadership center that looks to inspire businesses: family owned, state owned enterprises, investors, and nonprofits; to employ SAC practices with the long term in mind. This means that they conduct their business thinking about stakeholders as opposed to simply shareholders. Stakeholder theory is a broad theory, but in short it means that a business takes into account the environment, the community, the customer, and the shareholder or investor. This differs from the way many companies conduct themselves because most companies are looking to make a short-term profit that brings quarterly gains and keeps their shareholders at bay.

It is a widely held belief that this type of short-term profit chasing is what led to the Great Recession when mortgages were repackaged with high grades despite the fact that the homes were owned by people who could not afford the loans. This real estate bubble combined with the failings of the Lehman brothers and Arthur Andersen has led to sweeping changes and a Western focus on Corporate Governance. While corporate governance is seen as the first champion of long-term profitability, it still only focuses on a companies shareholders and is not as important to private corporations, nonprofits, and institutional investors who may see it as a checklist. Corporate governance serves as a list of boxes to check for public companies so that investors can claim ethical investment, but fails to see the larger picture that stewardship encapsulates.

Stewardship is a function of management. According to SAC, “Stewardship is the management of assets to which an organization has been entrusted so that they hand them on in better condition.” Good stewardship has a direct relationship with long-term return on investment. While good stewards may experience short-term pain, the long-term goals and core values of an organization drive them through temporary setbacks, into enduring prosperity. SAC spells out four elements that foster stewardship for companies:

  1. Conservatism in financing
  2. Sensitivity to the operating context – leaders are aware of the external world around them
  3. Cohesion and company identity – salient through all employees
  4. Tolerance for experimentation and outliers, which allows them to stretch their conception of what is possible.

These four elements create long-term vision and core values that empower employees to feel valued and become loyal to leadership in place. Stewardship as a business concept is new and only has been implemented with regulations in two countries, Britain and Japan (with failed attempts in Malaysia), Singapore is looking to be an early adopter of stewardship as it serves a lot of the philosophy of the Eastern world and lends itself to long-term profitability. Companies that have championed stewardship in the eyes of Stewardship Asia Centre include: Black Rock Investment, the Tata Group from India, and Singapore’s own government practices.

This internship taught me the theoretical side of stewardship and the practical side of running a start-up thought leadership center. Through sitting in on policy development, speech writing, curating content, press release writing, and event planning I learned practical ways to run a successful thought leadership center.

 Welcome Address by Hsieh Fu Hua, Chairman, Stewardship Asia Centre & UOB


Welcome Address by Hsieh Fu Hua, Chairman, Stewardship Asia Centre & UOB

Matt Podolak – Converse Trading Company, Singapore

Just a pair of Chuck's

Converse’s most famous product
Source: Wikipedia

In the summer of 2013 I was hired by the Converse Trading Company to work in their finance section as an intern. I was assigned was to develop a database that would organize, track, manage, and provide data for projections/analysis in regard to their retail business return operations. Continue reading