Looking back at the past year and a half spent in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), Vietnam, Lim Shuping, Project Executive at Keppel Telecommunications & Transportation (Keppel T&T) has no regrets about making the big leap with an overseas stint in her first job out of university.
As a wide-eyed graduate upon joining Keppel T&T in 2013, Shuping entered the Group's Management Trainee Programme, which provides exposure to working in various departments, job functions and business units in the Group on a rotational basis. Part of the rotation involves a minimum six-month overseas attachment with one of Keppel T&T's business units in the region. Fast forward one year and Shuping has not looked back since, even jumping at the opportunity to extend her stint when offered.
"Sure, it was not easy adapting at the start when I first came to HCMC. I've been to Vietnam before as a tourist, but living and working here is a whole different thing altogether," recalled Shuping. "Part of my role when I first came required me to help localise and implement initiatives from headquarters in Singapore down to the ground staff. I soon realised that what worked in Singapore might not necessarily work in other countries with different cultures. It's challenging, but I enjoy it, being on the forefront in such a fast-growing nation and fast-growing market like Vietnam, and making things happen."
In true blue Singaporean style, Shuping used food as an analogy to elaborate further. "Living in Vietnam, you have to expect the unexpected. There will be surprises thrown at you. In Singapore, we're pampered with franchised restaurants that open seven days a week with predictable opening hours, but in Vietnam where most establishments are family-owned and operated, you might visit a café and find it unexpectedly closed for random reasons. You have to expect the unexpected and be adaptive. That's what makes this place so exciting."
From bridging and rolling out initiatives, Shuping has progressed to helping Keppel T&T's subsidiary, Indo-Trans Keppel Logistics with project operations and account management for its many logistics clients.
The same adaptability that has served Shuping well on the job has also proven useful during visits back home, where she demonstrates her acquired cooking skills for her family. "I remember not being able to find the exact same ingredients in Singapore to make authentic Vietnamese spring rolls. I improvised to the best of my ability and used what I could find, like Japanese sesame dressing. My family loved it.
"Or so they tell me!" laughed Shuping.
It may not have been an easy decision at the start to embark on an overseas attachment, but Shuping (third from left) now relishes the challenges that each new day on the job brings, and the learning opportunities that come along with the dynamic environment in Vietnam