Want to Work for a Start-up?

Katy Montgomery

I am still fairly new to Singapore having just passed my eleven-month anniversary since arriving from Washington, DC. I regularly advise students to build relationships in the industry where they want to work.  Relationship building can happen in many ways and one way to learn more about an industry, give back to your professional community, and build strong bonds with like-minded individuals is to volunteer.

Shortly after arriving in Singapore, I was asked to join the SEAAGE (South East Asia Association of Graduate Employers).  I was thrilled to say yes.  Becoming a committee member has allowed me to interact with high-level recruiters (most representing all of APAC), employer brand and marketing specialists, and career services professionals from local universities.  I am learning more everyday about recruiting and the evolution of professional and career development in Asia by giving back. Recently, as part of my committee obligations I moderated "Talent Acquisition: Think Like a Start-Up" and want to share a few takeaways I learned from the following individuals working in prominent Singapore-based start-ups

Chang Wen, CEO & Co-Founder, Ninja Van

Ian Im, Head of Talent (and former INSEAD CDC employee), MoneySmart Group

Sid Shanker (2012 INSEAD MBA), General Manager, Deliveroo

Teck Yong Lim, Regional Head of Operations, Shopee

The panel discussed the real work of start-ups vs. the perceived glamour, the role diversity plays in hiring, the particulars of compensation packages, and the skills required to survive and thrive in the business world.  A number of common themes evolved including:

-Most start-ups are incredibly interested in looking for candidates with a strong sense of self-awareness

Candidates must be able to express why they are motivated to work in a start-up; being able to demonstrate the ability to move quickly, roll their sleeves up and get their hands dirty, and solve complex problems

- Successful start-ups move very quickly including in the recruitment space and especially in emerging markets (Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand) where strong talent can be hard to find

- Recruitment is not the recruiting manager’s job, it is everyone at the company’s job

- You must be able to demonstrate that you can hustle.  What does this mean?  Working long hours, being pro-active, always delivering, and constantly building