By Chen Heng Hui, Economics, Year 3
While waiting for enrolment into NUS three years ago, I self-initiated a working trip to China and offered my services as a translator to a training company based in Shanghai. Having experienced and enjoyed the business adrenalin rush in China, I was keen to spend my 2009 summer holidays working in Shanghai.
Since December 2008, I started applying to many Singapore-based companies with operations in China. Although I managed to receive a few offers from multi-national companies, I accepted an offer from Hupomone Capital Partners, a Singapore private equity/venture capital firm based in the Greater China region because the company was willing to provide me with a mentorship.
Due to my bilingual abilities and prior understanding of Contemporary China, I settled in quickly and was treated like a full-time employee by my colleagues and bosses. During my 10-week stint, I was largely involved with deal origination and deal analysis work. Besides research and due diligence work, I had the opportunity to travel to five different Chinese cities-Wenzhou, Beijing, Hangzhou, Tianjin and Taiyuan to meet entrepreneurs of different industries and other private equity managers.
At the same time, I was spurred on by one of my bosses, Mr Siew Wing Keong, who told me that I was able to initiate and propose new ideas to the team even though I was an intern. As such, I initiated an unassisted trip to the capital-rich city of Wenzhou to explore alternative financing opportunities for a medical device deal. In Shanghai, I originated a deal with a rapidly-expanding Taiwanese café-bakery chain after being a frequent customer at one of those stores. I identified that the bakery chain as a winning proposition because it is a combination of Starbucks and Breadtalk, catering specifically to the growing middle-class population in China. Soon after, I managed to schedule a meeting with the Group CFO to further discuss investment opportunities.
This internship had surpassed my expectations as I was lucky to have nurturing bosses who were willing to mentor young Singaporeans to engage China. After working and travelling in China for the last decade, I am keen to return for work in the Greater China region upon graduation and would strongly encourage every Singaporean to engage China in every way possible. In a CNBC interview with Maria Bartiromo in 2008, Jim Rogers said : “If you were smart in 1807 you moved to London, if you were smart in 1907 you moved to New York City, and if you are smart in 2007 you move to Asia.” Asia’s rise will be primarily driven by China’s growth story and it will be an extremely exciting prospect for us to take part in this historic-changing process.
Read more about Heng Hui’s China trip here!