Grooming Talent To Make The Leap Abroad

The Career Conversion Programme for Internationalisation Professionals is helping local firms realise their overseas ambitions.

As the global economy re-opens, Singapore businesses are starting to ramp up their internationalisation efforts, which is seen as a key enabler to building sustainable businesses. One critical aspect of this journey involves finding the right talent to helm their overseas expansion.

To do this, some local firms are tapping on SBF’s Career Conversion Programme for Internationalisation Professionals (CCP-I) , which aims to support companies looking to break into overseas markets. In particular, the initiative helps companies overcome challenges such as understanding compliance and regulations of overseas markets, and grooming employees to operate in foreign countries.

The CCP-I comprises facilitated classroom training as well as e-learning, mentorship and structured on-the-job training, conducted over a 9-month period. One company that leveraged the programme to prepare its newly hired general manager to support its market expansion into Thailand was Zicom Holdings, an engineering solutions provider in Green Energy & Gas Processing, Construction and Precision Engineering, with in-house manufacturing capabilities.

In an interview with BiZQ, Daniel Sim, Group CEO, Zicom Holdings, shares his views on how CCP-I has benefited his organisation.

Can you describe what your business is engaged in?

We are involved in several sectors. One of which is green energy, where we focus on sustainability and renewable energy. The second is the precision engineering and technology sector. Lastly, is the construction sector, where we have products such as concrete mixers and foundation equipment.

In terms of markets, we have market presence in USA, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, The Philippines, Bangladesh and Australia, and have plans to further expand in Europe and China.

Daniel Sim, Group CEO Zicom Holdings (Left) and Loh Kong Ngee (Right)

What was the motivation for sending your staff to attend the programme?

The CCP-I allows companies, like ours, to recruit and train individuals for their internationalisation plans. We had one employee, Mr Loh Kong Ngee, who just joined us as a general manager for our concrete mixer business in Thailand. He started the programme back in January 2021 and completed it in November.

As he was already in Thailand when he embarked on the programme, he had to participate in online classes, which totalled about 100 hours.

How do you think Mr Loh benefited from the programme?

The programme has a list of diversified modules and we thought that it was well-structured.

Some of the modules provided localised information on Thailand, in areas such as taxation and HR laws, which helped equip our employee theoretically about the laws he needs to consider when running the business.

As he had never managed a business or factory in Thailand before, he felt that this helped him to be better prepared to be stationed in the country. He also had access to a panel of very experienced mentors, who shared their business experiences and ways of doing things, which he also found very helpful.

In summary, the programme is very useful in getting candidates mentally prepared with fundamental knowledge of what they can expect when they start operating in the market.

How does the CCP-I help your company in terms of recruitment?

This programme allows us to source for talents from a bigger pool. We don’t need to limit ourselves to only professionals that were previously from the construction industry. Instead, we can now assess other talents such as those with fundamental management skills or regional background knowledge that matches the job requirements.

What were some of the challenges participating in CCP-I?

The 100 hours of theory lessons, as well as having to do some assignments offline, were heavy commitments. We also prefer to have more mentorship sessions instead so that we can gather more feedback. The ratio of theory lessons to face-to-face mentorship sessions could be further adjusted. However, if the programme is still supported by grants, I would be very interested to send more candidates to participate.

What are your plans for internationalisation going forward?

We are looking to set up new offices in Europe as well as in China. Currently, we have a manufacturing plant in China for our concrete mixers, but we want to expand into China and Europe for our green energy business. We also have plans to send more people there to spearhead our operations.