The Independent

5 Foreign Talents explain why they cannot stay in Singapore indefinitely but yet have job security

picture credit: journalist.sg

Linda Yuen-Ching Lim, a Professor of Strategy at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, delivered a keynote address this morning at her alma mater, Methodist Girls School, in a Strategic Planning Retreat for senior education administrators and teachers.

In her address titled ‘MGS, Singapore and the World: Looking Back and Looking Ahead’ Professor Lim suggested that Singaporeans must be brave enough to challenge authority. She emphasised that this challenging of ourselves, and challenging all the orthodoxies which govern our lives and work, is required to spur the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship that Singapore needs in the decades ahead.

To drive home her points, she quoted five of her former students who had been in Singapore for fairly long periods as a foreign talents in her Speech. The following are the quotes from Professor Lim’s former students.

“Singaporeans all think alike, that’s why we need to hire foreigners, and why we expats have job security.” – an American and former MBA student of Professor Lim who worked in a senior position in two global banks for ten years in Singapore.

“The Singapore journey to meaning is one of a clear path—defined by good grades, good schools and eventually, a good job” (resulting in a society that he found “myopic”, “monotonic” and “monochromatic” compared with his home, which he acknowledged was chaotic but also colorful, exciting, stimulating—and much more entrepreneurial.) – an Indonesian who studied here since age 15

“I always knew that I couldn’t stay in Singapore for the long term. Had I stayed any longer I would have become very inflexible and unable to adapt to other locations.” – Professor Lim’s Indian MBA student at Michigan who studied and worked in Singapore for 12 years, and is now a McKinsey consultant in Chicago

Another Indian student of Professor Lim used the word “claustrophobic”.

“Singaporeans have a predominantly strict attitude to life, marked by clear authority structures and distinct social status lines…..Singapore government managed so well that the local people are very lawful, strict and structural. Sometimes, I needed a breath though.” – Professor Lim’s woman MBA student who grew up in communist China, then worked in Singapore as a semiconductor engineer and is now at a Silicon valley tech company

 

Linda Yuen-Ching Lim is Professor of Strategy at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, where she served from 2005-09 as Director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, and has frequently served on the executive committee of the Center for Chinese Studies, most recently from 2013-15. At Ross, she teaches MBA courses and executive education sessions on The World Economy and Business in Asia, and has been faculty advisor of the annual Asia Business Conference for 25 years

Linda obtained her degrees in economics from the universities of Cambridge (BA), Yale (MA) and Michigan (PhD), and has published extensively on economic development, trade, investment, industrial policy, labor, multinational and local business in Asia—most recently focused on the economy of Singapore, her home country. She has consulted for private think tanks, government and international development agencies, is a former Trustee of The Asia Society, New York, and has served sequentially as an independent director of two U.S. public companies with tech manufacturing operations in Asia.