Good afternoon: Guest of Honour Mr. Foo Kok Jwee (Deputy Chief Executive, Workforce Singapore), Prof Annie Koh (Vice President, Office of Business Development SMU), Members of WSG, ESG (Enterprise Singapore), E2i (Employment and Employability Institute), International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Academy, institutional leaders and experts, administrators, honoured guests, and my fellow graduating classmates from our various cohorts.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you as a whole. Before I begin, I would like to thank all the contributors to this International Trading Professional Conversion Programme (ITPCP - Commodities and Non-Commodities Track) - jointly developed by the International Trading Institute@SMU (ITI@SMU), ESG, WSG and ICC Academy. Thank you to the employers too, for allowing us (your graduates today), to be part of the learning journey where we apply what we have learnt into your companies whilst also positively impacting the progress to our industries and to our nation.
Within the wholesale trading value chain, we were exposed and immersed into first-hand international trade issues which spanned from: export planning, risk management, supply chain procurement and its management, trade and customs compliances, tariffs, FTAs, online marketing and ecommerce, trademarks, patents, dispute resolutions, ICC trade documentations – you name it - all the way to even including workshops on supply chain safety & security, digital transformation and design thinking. Apart from the classroom training and e-learning components, seminars with industry leaders, our site visits to Accenture Liquid Innovation Studio and Supply Chain City were also eye openers as to how much and fast the industries had transformed and how Singapore companies had adapted to be more productive, efficient and effective in meeting those challenges and staying relevant.
Digitalisation has added a spin as to how we also run our functions today. Technological disruption has spared no industry. Apart from improving the skill sets within the core fundamentals of our trade, we were also exposed to understanding the need to embrace and adopt technology. We have to understand and leverage on data, get insights to make the data useful, interpret them to make sense of it all, and then cause positive change - so that we can produce transformational solutions in serving the needs of our customers, be it via offline and online worlds.
So the product in the making of this PCP? All of US… US that you see here today – the graduates– upskilled and reskilled.
What has the PCP Journey been like for me?
In essence, this program had equipped me to be able to quickly refresh myself on the various facets of the supply chain within the wholesale industry and understand the transformational changes taking shape. It upskilled me on the other value chain functions too - the challenges, the risks, the issues. This learning is necessary in order to understand, strategise, manage and deliver proper end-to-end solutions.
Personally, I knew that in order to stay relevant, I had to also take a few steps back to be prepared to unlearn traditional trained methods that I knew of, and relearn them - but now, from a different standpoint.
The PCP’s added value is that the curriculum was practice-based and application-centric. This also allowed me to apply what I had learned and improve the product of my work, impart and share new learned knowledge with my peers, update and cause transformational changes within the organization.
This brings me to address my favourite part of the program, which was the 6-month individual project. Here, we had to bring current organisational challenges to the table and come up with solutions using the tools learned from this programme. This was the most invaluable experience I dare say – as I was challenged not to only apply all that I had learnt into the project, but that too into my industry. Eliza Quek, our workshop professional in Digital Transformation & Design Thinking, was my mentor and she constantly challenged me to look at things from different perspectives and relativity – short term, mid-term and long term, and drilling deep down into the heart of matters. She really made me explore, relook and reevaluate my position from different angles – not once, but many times. After each meeting, however, I would be even more inspired to deliver better results than my last proposition. Thank you very much Eliza for cultivating a new dimension in me.
Ladies and Gentlemen, International trade is a key component to our nation’s GDP, economic growth and consumer spend. Hence, it is important that we will be a good match to the array of jobs and functions that international trade offers including those requiring digital skill sets.
Our workforce must continue to learn, absorb information, process them, progress, be competitive, and multi skilled. Change is inevitable. It is dynamic… and we can and will adapt for the better. As we embark on newer roles and morphed responsibilities, we must also move along and continue to grow personally. The PCP has equipped us with all these useful and relevant resources and we are fortunate as participants. The exposure has put us in good stead to continue to lead and we will not stop here. I am confident that each of us here will continue to hone our skill sets and contribute positively to our companies and industries. A note of sincere appreciation to Professor Annie Koh for continuously adding value to the programme and to the knowledge of the participants. To the SMU Business Development Team, Thank you: Chris Chow, Gary Ong, Dana Loh, Gabriel Tan, Jolene Tan, Alice Soo, Jennifer Lim, Joanne Lee for assisting our needs and making our journey a fine one.
With that all said, I come to my final point: mindset, approach, confidence, and perseverance. These are critical attributes to our personal transformational success. We sometimes need to stand out of the circle and look inward, in order to have a better peripheral vision and clarity of understanding the key issues. We must also not be afraid and we must keep an opened mind to take on new roles, responsibilities, opportunities and new challenges. No matter how seemingly difficult it may be initially, with grit and strive for continuous self-improvement, we will succeed over time.
On this note, I would like to congratulate all the graduates here today. Good luck and may you have fulfilling journeys in your career.
Continue to think broadly and deeply… Don’t just be transactional. Live and breathe “TRANSFORMATIONAL” in all that you think, touch and do… and we will be good to go!