Local talent, global impact

Local talent, global impact

Armed with an international mindset and a can-do spirit, Singaporeans are making waves at work and putting Singapore on the map.

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Mr David Tan, Ms Yong Hwee Yee, Mr Max Tan and Ms Chan San-San are making their mark in their respective industries. Photos: Zeetrope Productions

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Mr David Tan, Ms Yong Hwee Yee, Mr Max Tan and Ms Chan San-San are making their mark in their respective industries. Photos: Zeetrope Productions

As an ever-growing regional and global hub for both multinational corporations and startups, there is a raft of new opportunities here for Singaporeans to challenge themselves and grow their careers.

Companies are investing more in local talent, sending them on training programmes and overseas attachments, as well as moving them into bigger, more challenging roles.

And our local talent are rising to the occasion. These are the stories of Singaporeans who are being groomed to become leaders in an increasingly multinational and border-less workplace. These are the stories of Singaporeans standing tall among the best on the international stage.


Meet Mr David Tan, a veteran in the tech industry. In his 18 years with HP, David has embraced the steady slate of opportunities that were open to him. Besides sponsoring his MBA course, HP sent him on marketing and leadership certification and diploma programmes here and overseas.

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David has benefitted immensely from the slate of opportunities made available to him at HP.

What he found most valuable are programmes that challenge his thinking, such as the HP Leadership Acceleration programme that took him to Silicon Valley to learn how startups operate and experience their inclusive and innovative spirit.

Said David: “What the course has reinforced in me is the importance of fostering collaboration through diversity. Diversity is not just about different genders or ages, but also about different life experiences. When you put people with diverse demographics and experiences together, that’s where creativity and innovation happens.”

David is now HP’s regional supplies head in Asia-Pacific and Japan. Prior to this role, which he assumed in April, he was the managing director of HP Indonesia. In his two years in Indonesia, he witnessed the incredible diversity in terms of technology, people and culture, and now seeks to apply his learnings to his regional role.

When you put people with diverse demographics and experiences together, that’s where creativity and innovation happens.

– David Tan, head of Supplies (Asia-Pacific and Japan) at HP Inc. 

Training and exposure also feature strongly in talent development at Citibank Singapore. To help employees stay abreast of the rapidly transforming financial industry, it launched the Core Consumer Banking Skills training programme last year. Some 1,600 staff, from frontline to managerial roles, have already benefitted from the programme.

Ms Chan San-San, Citibank Singapore’s head of Wealth Management and Segments, is one of them. She has seen her skillset and career grow significantly over the years, thanks in part to the bank’s focus on training and exposure.

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Citi’s network and diversity have provided San-San with global mobility as well as learning opportunities.

She was part of its Leadership Enhancement and Accelerated Development or LEAD programme, which is unique to Singapore and offers around 100 high-performing staff targeted development interventions and opportunities to upgrade their competencies every year. She also participated in Citi’s two-year INSPIRE programme, which is aimed at building the company’s leadership pipeline.

“It is important that all of us take an active role in shaping our own career paths and development. At the same time, we must always be open to building up our skillsets along the way so that we are equipped for changes in our careers,” said San-San.


The multinational nature of these companies, with offices dotted all over the world, makes it quite natural – and logical – that global exposure is prioritised for potential leaders.

San-San, for instance, was sent on leadership programmes and job attachments in the United States and different parts of Asia to enhance her skills and develop a global perspective. Most recently, San-San attended a Wharton programme in Beijing and Philadelphia to learn about trends in the wealth industry, and she’s already looking at how these trends can help her team develop better solutions for customers.

Mr Max Tan, a software engineering manager at global online job portal Indeed, has also benefited from his company’s belief in exposing staff to different work cultures through foreign attachments. Just a month after he joined, Max was sent to Tokyo to learn about the different parts of the business. 

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Managing a multinational team has sharpened Max’s leadership skills.

Since then, he has been to Indeed’s offices in the US on various attachments and training programmes. These have been extremely helpful in his new role leading the International Growth team, where he collaborates with teams  in the US, Asia and Europe.

At global pharmaceutical giant GSK, job rotations across geographies also help employees grow their career.

Ms Yong Hwee Yee, who started out as a chemist in GSK’s Jurong plant 24 years ago, has been exposed to diverse teams across different regions as well as different functions of the business – from research and development to manufacturing.

Having experienced different functions of the business, from R&D to manufacturing, Hwee Yee now oversees seven manufacturing plants across the globe.

She’s now the vice-president of GSK’s Respiratory & HIV Manufacturing unit. Based in London, she oversees seven manufacturing plants and 4,600 staff across the globe. Before this role, she had a two-and-a-half-year stint in China as the regional supply chain lead and site director.


Thanks to their global exposure, David, San-San, Hwee Yee and Max all hold a similar viewpoint when it comes to working in diverse workplaces – a culture of inclusion, where diversity is celebrated, not shunned, is vital in forging connections and boosting innovation.

“As a leader, I believe a lot in inclusion,” said Hwee Yee. “I see the benefits of ensuring there’s diversity in perspective, diversity in experience."

Ultimately, an all-embracing corporate culture and a tenacious focus on developing talent can only take the company – and with it, its employees – to greater heights.

Read our stories on David, San-San, Max and Hwee Yee in this series, Diversity At Work. These are their journeys and successes.