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
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
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)
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)
Product Marketing Consultant
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
Senior Engineering Technologist - Dell Innovation Group
Dell Boomi Enterprise Account Executive
Account Manager, Inside Sales Renewals
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