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ESSEC Alumni in Singapore: “There are many opportunities for you here in spite of the crisis”

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Singapore is home not only to ESSEC APAC’s campus, but also to around 1,000 alumni. Christophe Gonet (E16), Head of ESSEC Alumni’s Singapore Chapter, tells us more about the local community – and how they cope with the ongoing crisis.

ESSEC Alumni: How many alumni are there in Singapore?

Christophe Gonet : The Singapore Chapter is ranked # 4 in number of members among the international chapters of the ESSEC Alumni association. As of today, there are 589 persons officially registered in our group on the ESSEC Alumni website. Personally, I estimate that our local community is almost double with around 1,000 alumni.

EA: What is their profile? 

C. Gonet : There are entrepreneurs who started their own business two or three decades ago, and typical expatriates with regional management positions with MNCs or medium-size companies. Unsurprisingly, most of our alumni are working in sectors such as luxury, hospitality, healthcare and financial services. Additionally, thanks to a very favourable ecosystem, we are also witnessing an increase in alumni working in digital positions or launching tech startups.

EA: How famous is the ESSEC brand in Singapore?

C. Gonet : The game-changer has been the opening of the ESSEC APAC’s campus, located at Nepal Hill, in January 2015. Additionally, the regular presence of our professors in the media to provide expert opinions on the news has really helped to raise the ESSEC flag! We are working closely with the faculty, staff and the Dean of Singapore to go even further. 

EA: What opportunities are there in Singapore for alumni?

C. Gonet : Singapore is truly a regional hub in Asia with a proximity to growing economies, which opens many opportunities! Granted, we have always been competing with Hong-Kong, but the recent events and demonstrations there, combined with the COVID-19 situation in China, has been benefiting us through a knock-on effect. Key Strategic Industries are Advanced Manufacturing, Aerospace & Logistics, Applied Health Sciences, Design, Financial Services & Technologies, Digital Innovation, Media & Digital Content, Travel and Urban Solutions. 

EA: How does the COVID-19 pandemic impact those opportunities? 

C. Gonet : Singapore's resident unemployment rate rose to 4.5% in August. By comparison, it peaked at 6.2 per cent during the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) period in 2003, and. Consequently, the Singaporean government has introduced a new “Jobs Growth Incentive” programme. To be eligible, firms must increase the headcount of their local workforce between September and next February, compared with August. On top of this measure, the minimum qualifying salaries for Employment Pass (EP) and S Pass holders has been raised from Sep 1. This makes it more difficult for foreigners overall to find work opportunities in Singapore. It does remain possible to get a job though, as foreign talents are still needed and desirable, especially for bigger corporations. 

EA: What news from the local ESSEC community in this context?

C. Gonet : Generally speaking, we have heard stories of a lot of persons returning to their home countries due to either corporate decisions or homesickness. A relevant fact is, for the first time ever, the population of Singapore has reduced, and it is mainly driven by a decreasing number of non-residents (-2.1%) mostly in services sector. 

Those who stay cope as they can, as everywhere else. Some are taking this unprecedent times as an opportunity to acquire new skills that will be needed in the aftermath of COVID-19. On a related note, ESSEC Career Services just announced that executive coach Patrick Kay will be providing career support for alumni in Asia. That’s a great news for our community!

EA: What advice do you have for alumni moving in Singapore?

C. Gonet : First and foremost, get in touch with your local ESSEC Alumni Chapter representative. We are lucky to have a board of five office-bearers who can support you with actionable advice and networking opportunities. We have a diverse set of experience and we leverage the community to help you find relevant contacts when needed.

If you are looking for a job in Singapore while living overseas, it will be important to have a clear strategy to approach potential employers and to build a strong case about the added value that you can bring to a firm! What makes you special compared to a local hire? When travel restrictions are lifted, it is usually more efficient to come in person to meet potential employers face to face.

EA: What is the offer of ESSEC Alumni's Singapore Chapter

C. Gonet : In a nutshell, our chapter is offering a quick access to the local community and regularly propose get-together events. We are focusing on four key priorities: Mentoring, Clubs & Topic related panels, Guest Speakers and Networking. Finally, we have also intensified our relationships with other business schools’ alumni communities to extend our networking capabilities.

Interview by Veary Ngy, International Community Manager at ESSEC Alumni, and Louis Armengaud Wurmser (E10), Content Manager at ESSEC Alumni 

Want to read more? Join ESSEC Alumni for us to be able to bring other quality contents about the community to you.

Image : © AdobeStock

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