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. Essentially, retail customers (businesses not individuals), would sporadically return product for a various number of reasons, and this was being tracked with a spreadsheet and individual receipts managed on a shared drive. The end state for the database was something that was utilized and managed in Singapore, but could be accessed and manipulated by the factory team in China, and analysts in the U.S.  It also had to be web based, as folks outside of the Singapore office did not have access to the internal networks.

In short, this was a pretty basic consulting project. I worked by myself, and coordinated needs across the finance and operations sections in Singapore, and conducted conference calls with the home office and China to establish their needs as well. Building the database (of which I had almost no experience), was not too difficult. I was thankful that I had an entire summer, the time was more than enough. Making the database web enabled was difficult given the constraints for security and software, but I made it happen, and provided details and instructions for the next person if/when Nike updates their SharePoint software to take advantage of some of the newer web based features.

I worked in a new office building in the southern portion of the island, and with all of my previous work experience in the public sector, was amazed at how nice the office and amenities were. Not only was the office nice, but Nike provides for a half day every third Friday, which was great when traveling locally. The office was fairly small, a team of about 40, and was mostly women.

Outside of what I learned about shoe manufacturing, logistics, Nike/Converse etc, I learned a lot about the culture of Singapore. Everyone in the office was incredibly friendly, and I often ate lunches with a few people from the office. It was great to be able to ask questions and compare cultures. Mostly everyone was not originally from Singapore, but either Malaysia or China. I was able to gain some very interesting insights into the culture, as well as the work culture. I thought the most fascinating thing was that amongst the people my age, very few of them stayed at a company longer than three or four years. Most people were on their third or fourth company, mainly due to the low unemployment rate and ability for folks to move into other companies fairly easily.

Overall, the experience was great. Compared with the other students who worked at different companies, I think mine was the best. I learned a lot and also had a great group of people to work with.