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Starting up with Start-ups

Starting up with Start-ups

  • 31 August 2022
  • By Samuel Fang
  • 5 mins read

Samuel Fang joined OCBC Bank’s Global Commercial Banking (GCB) division as a Start-up Specialist after graduating from RMIT-SIM with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business (Management). Outside of work, Samuel is a music lover who enjoys going for long jogs with his headphones on.

Hi, I’m Samuel. I work in the GCB division which offers services such as cash management, trade finance and custody/nominee services to SMEs, large corporations, financial institutions and government entities. As a Start-up Specialist, I work closely with new business owners to enhance their operations by implementing digital tools to support them at each stage of their journey. My aim is to make banking simple and convenient for corporate customers, especially SMEs.

Storytelling secured the job

Before I joined the Bank, I noticed a recruitment ad for an opportunity in the financial sector for a young person to work with start-ups and SMEs. That caught my attention as the job description perfectly harmonised with my interests. I took an entrepreneurial module in school as I was fascinated with start-ups and SMEs.

I was given two questions to prepare for the interview:

Why do you think the adoption of digital technologies by SMEs is not taking off?

How will you engage new businesses to adopt the digital business dashboard?

These questions gave me a good understanding of the job and its purpose. I researched extensively to prepare for the interview, but I believe it was my storytelling abilities that helped me secure the job.

In a sea of gifted candidates, everyone has their own strengths. Telling a story in a way that makes others believe in you and understand your value will differentiate you from the rest. Be honest. Let your story come from a real place. Be passionate and people will lean in to hear what you have to say. The best stories have emotions.

A typical working day

I spend my day speaking to businesses from a broad range of industries to gather insights from them. It is important to understand their pain points in order to support them at their stage of business. The needs are vastly different between industries. For example, a start-up eCommerce client may want to set up an online store while an established business may be seeking a more robust book-keeping solution.

There are eight of us in the team, each with our own area of expertise. We frequently share tips and insights with one another so that we can better support our clients.

Speeding up the learning curve

I was raw when I started the job and had to Google everything! There was so much to learn. My brain was not trained to understand certain phrases. When I first started interacting with customers, I used a certain script but today, it’s totally different. As I gain experience, I am better able to discern what the customer is really saying and to adjust my script accordingly. I became much better at discovering what the customer really wanted. I’m still new but every bit of experience helps in honing my ability to serve customers better.

Keeping focused through the pandemic

As I joined during the pandemic, it was tough working from home as I had to figure out a lot on my own. However, I am self-motivated and put my heart into my work. By reminding myself why I was doing what I was doing, it gave meaning to my work. And by focusing on my goal to make businesses successful, I remained motivated through the pandemic.

I stayed connected with the team which made the job more fun, knowing that others are in it with me. I also spoke to my manager extensively over Skype. I absorbed so much information that I created tables and notes to help me organise and retain the information.

Recognition for my efforts

I’m part of the pioneering Medipreneur team, which works with business owners in the healthcare industry. We developed a suite of solutions including financial, bookkeeping, website enhancement and procurement for a large number of clinics. I’m proud to say that the team received the CEO Innovation Award for this transformational initiative.

The Start-up Specialist team that I’m a part of was also the proud recipient of the OCBC Chairman’s GEMS Award. This award recognises colleagues who have delivered great customer service to both internal and external customers.

Finding meaning in helping businesses

Keeping my purpose foremost in mind is of utmost importance. I’m fascinated by the intricacies of businesses and learning how they work. Understanding my customers’ pain points and challenges and helping them overcome them is the most stimulating part of my job. Knowing that I’ve truly added value to our customers is highly fulfilling.

My advice for young people joining GCB

Be passionate, have an open mind and be flexible. Working in GCB is ever-changing and super-dynamic. Be willing to learn constantly. Tap into the wealth of knowledge and expertise available in the Bank and you will develop far beyond your expectations. Strive to develop soft skills like time management, active listening and thinking on your feet. When you join, try to speak up and contribute – being engaged is the best way to learn.

And always remember your purpose.