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Positive Experiences/Success Stories

Posted: Fri, 23 Aug 2019 1:58 am
by shunkwugga
I see lots of doom and gloom about the difficulties getting jobs and dealing with recruiters in Singapore, and I don't doubt the wisdom behind it, but does anyone have any positive experiences? Not looking for advertising or referrals but general good experiences with getting a job or relocating to Singapore. Either with a recruiter or direct hire, MNC transfer, whatever. I would think based on all the visa questions we get here there are still plenty of people who find success.

Lets hear it! Where did you come from, when, what were your motivations, and what did the process look like for you?

Re: Positive Experiences/Success Stories

Posted: Fri, 23 Aug 2019 3:29 am
by Strong Eagle
The people coming in on EP's are being transferred in by the company they already work for. So long as the company in question is hiring a good number of locals, and most of them do, their EP approvals are relatively automatic. A smaller number of EP's come from Singapore based companies advertising for specialized expertise... for example a large scale networks solutions architect.

People who come in cold and try to find a job, hoping that the company advertising local positions will pick them up on a fresh EP, are generally shit outta luck. Why hire an EP when you can hire a local? Why hire a foreign EP with all the attendant problems when you can steal one from another Singapore company?

I don't have any stats, and I'd be willing to bet a good chunk of money that at least 95 percent of issued EP's come from Singapore companies bringing in their own staff or advertising for specific expertise. A few more percent get EP's as the result of starting businesses. And practically nobody comes to Singapore, goes job hunting, and finds a company willing to hire them and apply for EP.

Re: Positive Experiences/Success Stories

Posted: Fri, 23 Aug 2019 4:30 am
by shunkwugga
Yeah, I can't imagine cold calling and resume drive-by's are successful tactics. I have seen plenty of postings in the last few weeks mentioning visa sponsorship. Admittedly I am mostly looking at large MNC's. But it still counts. And to clarify as I have seen this come up in other posts, I am referring to any work visa. Not just EP. I'll update my original post to reflect that.

To be honest I'm fine hearing from anyone who had success. There is so much nay-saying here it's a little frustrating reading through the posts and I was hoping to maybe show another side of the coin. And sure, maybe the negativity is well placed and warranted, with the window getting more and more narrow every year, and changing attitudes, etc, but I can't imagine there are no expats who got a job in Singapore in 2018-2019 and actually enjoy life. I know its not the cornucopia it once was, but it can't be THAT bad, can it? Or am I just being incredibly naive about this (possible I suppose...)?

Re: Positive Experiences/Success Stories

Posted: Fri, 23 Aug 2019 6:41 pm
by sundaymorningstaple
I used to be an engineering headhunter here, (primarily O&G, Civils and Petrochem/Phama with some building engrg like HVAC, Electrical and related. As I dealt with Foreigners, it was pretty good from 1994 when I got into it until 2000. After that, it started to slow down. In 2004 I left the Recruitment Industry and took up a position as an HR & Finance Mgr of a medium sized SMC here (up to around 225 staff at it's peak). After the 2011 GE, the ruling parting took a beating at the polls (by their reckoning, but by international standards they did fine). However the drumbeating throughout the elections was the FTs (Foreign Talents) were taking the locals jobs. And, to be honest there was an element of truth to it.

Particularly in the IT & Finance sectors. Seems there would be an FT who managed to secure an influential position in the HR department of a financial or IT service provider and start hiring their own countrymen to the exclusion of everybody else (qualified or not). This was primarily being done by people from the Subcontinent. The backlash was bad and the MOM (Ministry of Manpower) started cracking down on the wholesale importation of people from other countries unless fair opportunities were given to locals first and salaries were somewhat equalized. It has made it extremely hard to get EPs approved now and even for those EP holders who have been here for a while cannot get PR and a lot of long term PR cannot get Citizenship.

Frankly though, I don't know why anybody would want PR today anyway.

I wouldn't say you are naive, just misinformed possibly. Times change rapidly over here.

Re: Positive Experiences/Success Stories

Posted: Fri, 23 Aug 2019 10:13 pm
by shunkwugga
Well, the wife and I are going somewhere. We both have been wanting to live abroad for years and are finally reaching a point where that is possible, both personally and professionally. I love the tropics so were going somewhere warm and humid for a change (Rocky Mountain air ain't cuttin it for me). I work in cyber security in the US now, but due to personal and professional reasons and the current state of affairs in the US, I am feeling a strong urge to switch to another industry (still cyber, and I've done my homework and picked a few brains on that already) and live abroad for a few years. My wife's business can travel with her. I've looked at everything from Ascention island to Kwaj atoll, Costa Rica and Peru to HI. We have found more than a few places that would work (were pretty low key and adaptable) but given the current global political climate and our personal and professional goals and ambitions, nothing fits with my wife and I better than Singapore. We visited last year for a few weeks and those feelings really gelled.

However, the more I read here the more it seems that just won't be possible, because almost no one gets a job as a foreigner. And even if I pulled it off it seems its a terrible place to live and work. I do hear what you are saying and I'll have to mull it over, talk to the wife, and think about it a bit. Everything I see here seems to contradict what I have seen and experienced elsewhere. My theory is that people are either wearing rose tinted or turd tinted glasses, or something in between. It just isn't lining up.


Re: Positive Experiences/Success Stories

Posted: Fri, 23 Aug 2019 10:55 pm
by sundaymorningstaple
Now you are talking. One of the biggest exceptions to the rule that both Strong Eagle and I are talking about (both of us have been here too long although SE escaped a couple of years ago and is back in Houston, but I'm still here after 36 years (just retired in March this year). The exception to the rule is find a niche that Singapore cannot or does not have the expertise 'at this point in time' to cover.

Cyber Security being one (considering the two breaches in the past 12 months or so (one Governmental and one financial I believe). So yeah, you have something that is salable here. So don't write it off. Maybe SE can give you some pointers on that side as I'm not a IT person. He is as you might have noticed "Singapore based companies advertising for specialized expertise... for example a large scale networks solutions architect." I believe that was his bailiwick - Salvage of said projects that were flawed. So based on niche knowledge/skillsets I'd not yet throw in the towel. ;-) See what SE has to say.

Re: Positive Experiences/Success Stories

Posted: Sat, 24 Aug 2019 1:04 am
by Strong Eagle
Things are clearer now. I came over to Singapore in 2004 to create a business with a man who had been running the Asian arm of a global managed services business. This gave him a fat Rolodex from which we were able to find clients.

We had a variety of clients... banking, the big computer peddlers, manufacturing, chemical, and oil companies, Australian and Malaysian federal government agencies, to name just a few. We focused exclusively in infrastructure... no software, except as a part of an infra migration or transition... like an M&A buyout technology consolidation. It wasn't like I was looking for it, and I ended up almost exclusively recovering failed managed services implementations and PC/server refreshes across the region.

In 2004, starting a company was easy peezy. It took a business plan (I look at it now and I laugh, I must say... but it did the trick) and a bit of gravitas... we did have experience in what we did. We didn't have to show any money... although we put up SGD 200,000 for start up expenses and to show our clients we were serious.

Singapore and the region were on a strong growth curve, and we were able to find business and add employees, getting up to about 14 before the roof fell in. It is important to note at this point that we were able to obtain our business regionally. Although the MNC's, our primary clients, were global in footprint, they were regional in operations. North America, EMEA, and Asia all ran their own shows, even if their budget was dictated out of headquarters.

Life was very good. Running big projects. Living in a very nice semi-D in Watten Estates, quite a desirable place in Singapore. Travel to all sorts of interesting places, usually business class (did I tell you I met the author of Shantaram, Gregory David Roberts, at the bar that was his hangout in Mumbai?). Met tons of interesting people. Drank beer on Boat Quay pretty regularly. Played golf almost every weekend on Batam/Bintan. And as an added benefit, I was making lots of money as well.

And then the recession hit. Took about a year to trickle into our business, but when it did, it was a double whammy, a triple whammy, even. ICT is the first discretionary spending area that companies cut back on in a downturn. Over the course of three years, our staff shrunk back down to three. We weren't the only ones. Layoffs in ICT world were rampant... all the big computer guys, all the implementation guys like Datacraft. There were tons of people on the street looking for jobs that didn't exist and a lot of expats went back home.

So, we gradually start to pull back out of the recession but major changes had occurred in the meanwhile. Gone were the days of renting project managers out at USD 1000 per day. There was severe downward pressure on contract rates just about everywhere in the ICT business. But, rents and property values continued to go through the roof in Singapore. I simply couldn't pay people enough to afford places to live, especially if they had a family. And hiring second tier people would be a death knell for sure.

There were two real killers to my business model, though, that ultimately forced me to shut the doors and go back to the states. The wife and I were PR and had plenty of flexibility. Editorial note: I would have probably looked for another way to make a living except for the fact that the wife badly wanted to go home.

The first thing that changed was the most all MNC's became operationally global in their ICT departments, as part of their own cost cutting measures. No longer were the infrastructure decisions being made in Asia, they were being made in Europe, or Australia, or the USA. Sure, there was a VP in charge of ICT in Asia but he couldn't hire you to deliver coffee to him, let alone a multi-hundred thousand dollar contract to implement a project.

Infrastructure plans and hiring now came out of the global PMO, and they wanted companies with a global footprint to handle stuff for them. So, the global managed service companies flourished, and while they didn't have a footprint everywhere, and did hire sub contractors locally, the downward price pressure was strong. No fun at all.

This consolidation also happened on a technical level. We ran a couple of projects to bring servers in from all over Asia into mega datacenters in Singapore. Why have multiple offices to handle security when it can all be run out of a single location with remote access. Net effect: Lots of jobs got killed. Even the onsite business suffered. Example: You've got HP printers in your office. One of them dies. Used to be that a tech would come out and fix it. Not now. A delivery boy shows up with a printer, plugs it in and calls the remote service desk.

And the second major effect of the recession was to drive bread and butter IT services out of Singapore. I migrated call center service desks from Singapore to Manila and Kuala Lumpur. I moved the entire back office support for payroll and accounting for a bank out of Singapore and into Manila. And I watched as multiple companies moved their design, operations, and tier 2 support functions out of Singapore and into the technology corridor in Kuala Lumpur.

In short, Singapore is a shitty place to get an IT job these days. You're in cyber security, and as SMS said, unless your brain dead you know it's a hot and growing area. But, the corporate departments for handling this stuff aren't in Singapore any more. There at the global PMO's, or they are located in Manila, in Kuala Lumpur, or maybe Mumbai or Bangalore. It will be tough to find work in Singapore. Not that it doesn't exist, obviously... just that fewer people do much more for what there is, while the rest have moved off.

Here's a fun exercise that you might try. I did. There are 88 jobs listed on Dell's Singapore website (see them below). There's practically nothing technical in 88 jobs. Pick any MNC you can think of and do a similar search... technology management is not in Singapore.

You could probably find work in Kuala Lumpur, and it's not a bad place to live... although you'd better get used to everything sort of half working. The standing expat joke at the pub was, "Would you really trust the Malaysians with a nuclear reactor?" You could get work in Manila but that certainly wouldn't be my cup of tea. If you are into exotic things, Vietnam might work, Saigon more so than Ha Noi, although it is changing rapidly.

Good luck with your plans and travels.

PS: As a denizen of Houston, I'd love to be in the Rocky Mountains.

Dell jobs on their Singapore website:

Global Supply Manager
Global Supply Management Advisor
Senior/Advisor, Global Supply Management
Senior Advisor/Consultant, Global Commodity Management
Digital Cities Solutions Marketing Lead
Displays and Client Peripherals, APJC Product Line Management (PLM) and Pricing Director
Consultant, Services Project / Program Management
Supply Chain Automation / Applications Developer
Analyst, Global Operations Strategy
Account Executive - Commercial
University Relations Project Manager
Global Operations Strategy Senior Advisor
Account Executive - Unstructured Data
Director, Corporate Security
Data Scientist
Consultant, Sales Leasing/Finance
Senior Manager, Account Services Management
Channel Marketing Advisor - South East Asia
Product Development Manager (Displays - Panel)
Senior Principal Designer
Analyst, Technical Writer
Display Engineering System Architect
Business Development Strategist - Dell EMC Open HCI
Data Scientist
Academic Alliance Security Consultant
Principal System Engineer - RSA
Digital Cities – Solution Architect Development Consultant
Senior Advisor, Solutions Architect
Software & Peripherals Field Marketing Manager
Boomi Sales Executive - Channel Sales
Data Protection Solutions Territory Manager
Senior Engineer, Technical Support
Product Development Manager (Displays - Mechanical Engineer)
Systems Engineer
Inside Sales - Account Manager - iDCSE
Dell Technologies Select - Client Executive
Advisory Systems Engineer (MDC Storage Specialist)
Dell Boomi Presales Engineer – Singapore
Senior System Engineer - Storage
Fresh Graduate, Inside Sales Renewals
Principal System Engineer - RSA
Manager, Engineering Technologist RSA
Sr. Systems Engineer – Edge and IoT Solutions, OEM
Director, Global Operations Strategy
Sr. Advisor, Pricing
Talent Acquisition Senior Manager – Australia/NZ & Singapore
Project Leader Strategy and Client Services
Inside Data Centre Sales Executive, Indonesia Market
VMWare Business Development Manager (APJ)
Dell Technologies Select Dedicated Enterprise Architect (FSI SCB)
Graduate Intern - Global Takeback Producer
Director of APJC Takeback
Product Line Manager
Sales Executive, Converged Systems Sales (DC)
Client Product Marketing Manager
Product Marketing and Operations Manager
Dell Boomi Enterprise Account Executive
Regional Service Provider GTM Manager (Telco/5G)
Data Scientist
Product Marketing Consultant
Graduate Intern
Development Director - Displays Engineering
DTS Commercial Director
Product management Senior Advisor
Field Marketing Manager
Inside Data Centre Sales Executive, Thailand market (Based in Singapore)
System Architect Electrical Engineer – Client Technology and Architecture Team
Software Technologist
Software Technologist
Senior Engineering Technologist - Dell Innovation Group
Dell Boomi Enterprise Account Executive
Account Manager, Inside Sales Renewals
Data Scientist
Advisory Consultant - Application Transformation
Senior Analyst, Project/Program Management
Principal Data Scientist
Product Launch Consultant
Advanced Experience Planner for Ecosystem
Enterprise Architect - Singapore
Onboarding Engineer (Virtustream)
SAP Consultant (Virtustream)
Engineering Graduate Internship
Marketing Graduate Intern(MBA)
Associate, Global Operations Strategy
Global Alliance Leader- DXC Asia
Fresh Graduate _ Quality Engineer

Re: Positive Experiences/Success Stories

Posted: Sat, 24 Aug 2019 2:43 am
by shunkwugga
Thank you so much for this, both of you. It gives me some needed and relevant perspective. Also, very interesting to hear the backstories of the "old timer expats" (I mean that as a compliment!). I have been browsing several MNC job boards (tech, finance, big4, R&D firms, even Deloitte *shudder*) as well as Linkedin postings this last few weeks, partly for job hunting, but also to take in what is available to really judge my chances. The job pool I am looking at is shallow for sure, but its not dried up yet. If anything I would say its on the upswing globally, despite the ongoing shift of ops and mgmt to cheaper arenas. And about 1/4 of the positions which apply to me even state a willingness to sponsor a work visa in the posting, which I view as a good sign. I can't speak to other industries as I haven't taken the time to look, but I imagine there are one or two here and there with similar prospects.

Manila is a hard no until that government stabilizes a bit. We are looking forward to living in a place where the government doesn't kill its people willy-nilly. One of the few world leaders that makes Trump look sane(ish).

We did look at KL and Vietnam pretty in depth, and it isn't off the table now, but the salaries are significantly lower, my research so far indicates close to an order of magnitude. That said I am still trying to wrap my head around how bonuses in SEA work. Got more reading to do there, is just muddying the waters for me in that respect.

I get that cost of living is markedly lower, but the concern is more about the exit strategy. Early in my career I accepted a job for below market value because I was fresh out of the military and had no idea what I was doing. That had an effect for years to come. I moved around a bit and found myself at a company I really liked, but didn't pay very well, mostly because my previous jobs didn't pay well. It was a good job at a good company with awesome perks so I was willing to deal with it. I just wanted to be happy. Climbed the ladder and always got a good raise year after year, but I was never able to even come close to catching up to my peers salary wise. Company got bought, I was shoehorned into a very tedious and unrewarding position, and basically everything changed except the pay. At that point I was working a job I hated for a company I didn't really care for well below market rate. I can do 2 of those at a time, but not all three. It wasn't until one of our government assessors told me "They better be paying you a lot of money for what you are doing" that it hit me how really unhappy I was. I happened to get a call from a recruiter that evening who offered me nearly double my salary on the spot if I would use my full skill set and go help this company fix a mess they had created. That got me caught up (and dabbling in the consulting world), but I would prefer to not have to deal with that situation ever again if possible. I suppose it just comes down to my bargaining skills and selling my own value, but it still gives me pause.

At the risk of divulging my hometown, one of my first jobs was doing tech support for dell when I was 17. The HQ was a nightmare when they were a younger company. I remember there was at least 2 heart attacks on the sales floor every month. A lot of churn and layoffs as well as they would stand up a new department, staff it with 90% temps, expect it to mature in 2 months, then can them all for not meeting obscure or unrealistic milestones and try something new, rinse, repeat. I bet an exec had some shares in some temp agencies. I'm sure its a different company now, but it sure left a bad taste in my mouth. That said, I may or may not have applied for a job on that exact page just a few days ago. My chances are slightly above 0% I'd wager, but I usually take the approach of letting them say 'no' instead of saying it for them.

Wow, that was a novel and a half. Got me thinking about things though, and I doubt I will get any responses relating to the original posting so, no harm done I suppose. Thank you both again, you have given me some solid guidance and a lot to digest. With any luck I'll be coming back here in a few months and filling you guys in on my success story, wherever or whatever that may be.

PS: As someone who grew up in Texas, I agree with you. My skin however does not. I need some humidity.

Re: Positive Experiences/Success Stories

Posted: Sat, 24 Aug 2019 4:07 am
by Strong Eagle
I'll probably add more later... and that part about lower pay and exit strategy rang a bell.

If working in KL or elsewhere is going to be your last job before retirement or the new job is in the same place, then a lower salary doesn't mean very much. It also used to be that "expat expertise" bought a significant bonus over local pay but that doesn't seem to be as prevalent any more.

You probably would get "hardship" bonuses in Vietnam or Myanmar... living is much tougher there, and at the very least you'd want a boost over the local's income to handle the additional expense you encounter as an expat... from rents to school for children, to cars/chauffeurs, and insurance.

One large MNC I worked for migrated about 95 percent of its technical staff from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur. Everyone was offered a cut in pay and a one time payment for housing costs and stuff like that. They got to keep company seniority. This raised a huge stink in the company... it was basically a take it or f*ck you offer. A lot of these folks took the offer because they couldn't find an equivalent in Singapore, even though they knew they'd make less money, which essentially sentenced them to a permanent move out of Singapore. And I'm talking Singaporean locals... Chinese, Malay, and Indian.

Re: Positive Experiences/Success Stories

Posted: Fri, 13 Sep 2019 11:28 pm
by sohappysg
I think I was very lucky. I came to Singapore over two years ago. I found the job in Finance (even in finance field I wanted to be in) after three weeks. I received also another job offer which I rejected in the same time.
Firstly I got an S Pass. After 2 years I got a really good salary increase which allowed me to get EP this year.

So you can be lucky one. And I am really average, had like 5 yrs experience, not working overseas and no Asia experience at all.

Re: Positive Experiences/Success Stories

Posted: Fri, 13 Sep 2019 11:48 pm
by Pal
Good to hear that sohappysg, looks like you are enjoying yourself in Singapore!

Please share more of your experiences with fellow expats here :)

Re: Positive Experiences/Success Stories

Posted: Sat, 30 Nov 2019 2:44 am
by throwawaypep
I am in a somewhat good spot now. I've lived in Singapore for a little more than 10 years, moving here when I was young and naive for my first job out of university.

I make good money now, but i'm bored out of my mind - I feel a severe lack of interesting things to do and people to meet outside of work. A large part of that might be my own doing, but still...

For the first 6 years of my career, I worked for a measly S$ 30k a year. There are many reasons why I did that, but, that's story for another time.

I started a new job at year 7. The pay was S$ 140k, but I only lasted 3 months in that startup before they fired me, so in the end I only made a little more that S$ 30k that year.

I started again in a new job in year 8. This one was amazing - excellent work life balance, and the total compensation went from S$ 200k to S$ 230k in the 3.5 years that I worked there.

I started at my current job after that - I expect to make between S$ 300k - 330k, depending on how the bonuses shake out.

And yes, I am from the subcontinent - I studied engineering (but not computer / IT) in school, taught myself software engineering, and eventually specialised in machine learning / data science.