In the first interview of this series, we feature Edwin Ang, founder of Expert Career Mentor and currently the Senior Financial Controller for Asia Pacific at foodpanda. He shares his take on the challenges he faced as a young professional, maneuvering his way through various overseas job postings, the importance of standing out from the crowd, and his perspectives as a hiring manager today.
Expert Career Mentor: Hello Edwin, can you share with us your career journey?
Edwin: I have been fortunate enough to work in 4 different amazing cities; Singapore, Hong Kong, London and Singapore and at five exciting technology companies; foodpanda, Intel, Apple, Inmarsat, and Telstra.
My career journey started when I graduated from University in 2009, just after the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, when the job market was much like the situation today.
During University, I landed an internship at the Australian Tax Office while holding down three other part-time retail jobs. I was also heavily involved in the University Clubs and Societies and co-founded my own event management company. These experiences help me to stand out as a candidate, which led me to my role in the Telstra Business Graduate program in Sydney.
Expert Career Mentor: What are some tips that you can give to our students who felt lost when they first started out their career?
Edwin: I will share some practical tips to help you with your early career.
Get involved in extracurricular activities or volunteer for activities that interest you. For example, join a university society, volunteer for a charity, or enter a competition.
Find an Internship or a Part-time/Casual job. It is much easier to get a new job if you already have one. You can also network in your current company and transfer internally to another role.
Look at the job description of your ideal roles and work your way to getting the required experience and skills through taking up extra courses and/or experiences from work.
Highlight unique experiences in your resume summary to stand out from other candidates.
Practice! You can find the most common behavioural interview questions online.
Expert Career Mentor: How do we secure the dream job that we want?
Edwin: Find a way to stand out from the crowd! Hiring managers will remember if you were the President of the University business society or if you were the Treasurer for the local charity.
Having worked in Sydney since graduation, I decided to explore the world and embark on a journey to Hong Kong. I booked a one-way ticket to Hong Kong with two suitcases, in a completely new culture and a new world. It was the preparation work I did six months before I left, which was the key to securing a role at Intel.
Expert Career Mentor: From your experience in working overseas, what are some things that we should prepare and take note of?
Edwin: Here are some tips to secure a role overseas:
Pick the right time to change roles. In Hong Kong, employees tend to change jobs after receiving their bonus, usually after Chinese New Year.
Get qualified or complete industry certification - In Asia, many companies value qualifications. For example, a CPA / CA is almost a prerequisite for every finance role in Asia.
Visit the country before you plan to move, reach out to your network, and speak to recruitment companies to understand the market.
Get a Skype online number or a local sim card to make and receive local calls from prospective employers or recruiters.
Take advantage of the Working Holiday Visas that are available for people under the age of 30.
Expert Career Mentor: Last but not least, what is your best advice to ace an interview?
Edwin: Currently based in Singapore, I have been recruiting for the foodpanda APAC Regional Finance team. The most impressive candidates are those who have prepared themselves, researched the company, and understood the requirements of the position.
Here are some of my reflections from a hiring manager’s perspectives:
Research on the company and the department. If you are applying for a finance role, read the annual report or investor analysis, or share an interesting fact with the hiring manager.
Send a thank-you email after your interview.
Ask great questions and show your enthusiasm for the opportunity or the industry.
Tailor your resume to the job description. Your resume has 7.4 seconds to make an impression on recruiters.
Prepare and practice your interview responses using the STAR m