SPOTLIGHT

Second Wind, Second Win

by Li Haohan
Photography by Chino Sardea
12 Nov 2018

There are as many reasons for checking out of a successful career as there are careers. For these five individuals, doing so meant finding new energies to forge on and replicate their successes in less familiar territories

Some people develop the ability to breathe freely during a strenuous activity, especially after having been out of breath for a while. This phenomenon is known as ‘second wind’, and it can power the completion of the said activity. Although commonly encountered in sports activities, some people go through a similar experience in life: When their focus blurs, their interest flags, and their old enthusiasm wanes, a second wind kicks in and provides them with energy to stay on – or head elsewhere – fully recharged.

In a forum organized by Portfolio, we had the privilege of listening to inspiring stories of five professionals who, at the peak of their careers, stopped and did a sharp turn to do something else. Some found themselves at crossroads that forced them to rethink where they were headed; some encountered personal crises that made them question their aspirations. Some, still brimming with energies, simply wanted to test whatever they have learned somewhere else.

  • CONTINUING THE LEGACY
  • HARNESSING MULTIPLE OPPORTUNITIES
  • MANAGING A DIFFERENT FUND
  • COMMUNICATING DIVERSE OPPORTUNITIES
  • CREATING EMPOWERED CULTURE

Continuing The Legacy

Mr. Douglas Chia
CEO & Managing Director
G&M Pte Ltd

Mr. Chia knew what a fast life meant. He parlayed his background in investment banking to become an equity derivatives trader, and quickly found success in Tokyo and in Hong Kong. It didn’t last long: His family summoned him back home, to the bedside of his father who was then very sick, where he was told to leave whatever he had built and return to Singapore.

Mr. Chia’s father had founded an insurance agency by himself, a modest but well-respected enterprise whose clients looked up to its founder for his integrity, honesty and personal service.

Little did Mr. Chia know that his trading days would sharpen his risk management skills, and preparing him for the takeover of the family business. He applied his international experience in banking, introduced technology to manage parts of the operation, and redirect its focus on specific markets, such as high end-cars. From his father came the legacy of personalized service. Mr. Chia goes out every day to meet and speak with the clients.

Today, G&M services nearly 70 per cent of high-end car insurance market, and Mr. Chia is quick the attribute the success to the foundation that his father had built before him.

  • CONTINUING THE LEGACY
  • HARNESSING MULTIPLE OPPORTUNITIES
  • MANAGING A DIFFERENT FUND
  • COMMUNICATING DIVERSE OPPORTUNITIES
  • CREATING EMPOWERED CULTURE

Harnessing Multiple Opportunities

Mr. Li Yi
Private Banker
Citibank

Mr. Li would seem like a restless young man who careered from one profession to another, but given the string of successes he has achieved in each of them, one would understand that he goes where opportunities come knocking. To date, he has worked in media, integrated resort, and now banking. At Chinese language newspaper Lianhe Zaobao, he did online media sales while writing a sports column. He then went to New York University to pursue a master’s degree in Public Relations and Corporate Communications. 

By the time he graduated in 2008, the global financial crisis had shut down the opportunities he was eyeing on Wall Street. Mr. Li decided to return home to Singapore and joined Resorts World Sentosa to spearhead its sales and marketing efforts in China, where he ended up as business development director.

His network in the Mainland opened new doors at UOB private banking, where he was designated team head for business development in China. Following that stint, he joined UBS as a private banker covering the same market for three years, and finally, in 2016, he was invited to join Citi Private Bank, where he won the prestigious 2017 Global Chairman’s Council of Citi Private Bank.

A graduate of the National University of Singapore (Computer Science), Mr. Li is also a veteran aerobics instructor at various fitness clubs in Singapore.

  • CONTINUING THE LEGACY
  • HARNESSING MULTIPLE OPPORTUNITIES
  • MANAGING A DIFFERENT FUND
  • COMMUNICATING DIVERSE OPPORTUNITIES
  • CREATING EMPOWERED CULTURE

Managing A Different Fund

Ms. Catherine Loh
Chief Executive Officer
Community Foundation of Singapore

Ms. Loh began her career at the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation before assuming leadership positions in the Singapore offices of Nomura, Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs. She cut her teeth at dealing rooms where she honed a competitive and result-driven attitude that served her well in her career in finance.

In 2008, as the financial crisis triggered a global recession, Ms. Loh’s health suffered. She took a break to recover and be around her family. About a year later, she gave birth to her third child and decided to put her banking career behind her.

With her toddler at pre-school and her health much improved, Ms. Loh decided to return to work. It was then that an offer that led her to her current position at the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) came her way. The decision was not difficult for Ms. Loh, who has done volunteer work at Assissi Hospice, Metta Welfare Association and Telok Kurau Primary School. Her experience in management, sales and marketing, and financial management could be used in growing CFS – in ways that would benefit the larger society.

Under her leadership, CFS manages 110 donor funds, including the S R Nathan Education Upliftment Fund, and has raised over S$100 million in total donations. It also works closely with over 400 charities to identify gaps in the community that need support. It has been six years since and Ms. Loh still feels she is fulfilling her life’s purpose.

  • CONTINUING THE LEGACY
  • HARNESSING MULTIPLE OPPORTUNITIES
  • MANAGING A DIFFERENT FUND
  • COMMUNICATING DIVERSE OPPORTUNITIES
  • CREATING EMPOWERED CULTURE

Communicating Diverse Opportunities

Ms. Helena Ma
Head of Public Affairs
Sino International Entrepreneurs Federation

A multilingual Chinese national who has lived in Shanghai, Sweden, London, and Singapore Ms. Ma owns and runs the multidisciplinary consultancy firm IDEA communication Pte Ltd. Her management and communication expertise was honed supporting the growth of over 30 multinational companies in market-entry or global expansion phases impacting China, ASEAN, EMEA.

Ms. Mah has worked as interpreter for the Chinese Central Television (CCTV) and as press officer at World Expo 2010 simulatenously. She also fulfilled corporate in-house roles for a number of years in Sweden and UK before shifting to an entrepreneurial path founding IDEA Communication in Singapore.  

Ms. Ma executed her transition to various roles skillfully, believing that each position she has held has prepared her for the next one. She is a mid-handicap golfer, and a vineyard investor who has hiked three stratovolcanoes in Sumatra in 2015.

She now heads the public affairs portfolio for state council-backed NGO, Sino International Entrepreneurs Federation – a platform that aggregates elite entrepreneurs and politicians from China, Europe, Africa and Australia, and actively promotes the multilateral trade ties between China and other countries.  

  • CONTINUING THE LEGACY
  • HARNESSING MULTIPLE OPPORTUNITIES
  • MANAGING A DIFFERENT FUND
  • COMMUNICATING DIVERSE OPPORTUNITIES
  • CREATING EMPOWERED CULTURE

Creating Empowered Culture

Mr. Ashok Miranda
Founder & Business Transformation Architect
Transform and Transcend

It hasn’t been long since Mr. Miranda published his book, Culling Culturitis, which seeks to empower business leaders and HR professionals to build a strong company culture, and position their companies for success in today's hyper-competitive and digital disruptive economy.

Culling Culturitis introduces the ADCOE culture transformation blueprint to transform a toxic culture into an exemplary winning culture, and shows how to create an exceptional workplace that fuels creativity and innovation, delivers meaningful and fulfilling work and attracts the right people aligned with the company values.

Mr. Miranda offers the following insights: A 2017 worldwide Gallop poll showed that 85 per cent of employees are disengaged at work, with poor company culture being cited as the main reason. There is a growing rift between what employees want from their jobs, and what companies offer, a situation that is especially true for millennials. With the cohort making up 75 per cent of the workforce by 2025, this will pose a huge challenge for companies looking to attract and retain top talent.

Mr. Miranda has worked for the leading media companies Walt Disney and Sony Pictures where he developed his passion to find what makes successful companies tick and what doesn’t.

As much a sought-after speaker, trainer and consultant, Mr. Miranda helps businesses transform and be successful in the digital age. He is passionate about building a better business world, with purpose-driven companies and workplaces that foster happy and engaged employees.