With the help of the Principal’s Go Abroad Fund, I travelled to Singapore to spend June interning with the advisory team at Deloitte Singapore. Having just completed my second year of Chinese at Edinburgh, I wanted to learn more about how the business environment in Asia compared to what I have experienced in Europe, and perhaps even get the opportunity to use the (albeit far from fluent) Chinese I have managed to force into my brain so far.
Once there, Singapore proved to be the perfect platform for my purposes. Deloitte far exceeded my expectations as a global company, and clearly demonstrated strength from cultural diversity as a core value. My small team alone consisted of professionals from Singapore, India, Australia, the US and the UK. Moreover, in terms of language, it was not uncommon in the office to hear sentences begun in Mandarin and finished in English, making it a very beginner-friendly introduction to Chinese in the workplace. For those who are interested, Singapore has four official languages: English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil.
My stay also allowed me to gain further insight into the changes taking place in Singapore, and understand what lies behind the nation’s impressive spirit of progress, innovation and multiculturalism. Indeed, the recent death of the country’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew has drawn attention to the nation state and how much it has managed to achieve in the last 50 years since it separated from Malaysia, making it one of the best places in the world to learn about business and adapting to change.
Singapore as a social model is also interesting, arguably representing a near perfect exhibit of capitalism. It is very rich, very pro-business, low crimes, no drugs and highly innovative. It is also very healthy, well-educated, has strong labor protections, low unemployment, very transparent and very peaceful. Moreover, following considerable government initiative, ’Asia’s Greenest City’ is on a fast track to sustainability.
If I had to mention any struggles, it would perhaps be with the humidity and constant +30ºC temperatures. Even ditching the business jackets (unless somehow kitted out with built-in air-conditioning), if your commute to work involves more than a 10-15 minute walk, you’re going to sweat. It was a frequent occurrence to find myself desperately pressed up to the cool elevator walls, alongside other shiny-faced office workers wiping their brows with tissues, all engaged in a collective composure-gathering exercise. However, this doesn’t stop the daily stampede to the nearest hawker centre at lunchtime. The heat is no match for the magnetic pull of the culinary treasures that lie therein.
All in all, it was an incredibly enriching experience, in terms of both the work I was able to get involved in, and having the opportunity to immerse myself in the business world of one of the most vibrant cities on the planet. I would love to return to work here.