Oracle: Becoming Business Leaders of Tomorrow
Hoping to become a business professional after you graduate? Oracle’s Graduate Development Program can help you do just that.
By Colin Lim
In today’s competitive corporate environment, being a degree holder may not always guarantee a promising career. Fortunately, there are companies that offer programs designed to groom fresh graduates into future leaders, often providing them with opportunities to experience working in different lines of businesses along the way. One such company is Oracle Singapore, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Oracle Corporation, which is the world’s largest enterprise software company...
Started four years ago, the Oracle Graduate Development Program was first launched in India and China. The two-year program was so successful that Oracle decided to roll it out in other countries, such as Korea, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.
The grooming process
The Oracle Graduate Development Program is divided into three phases. In the first campus-to-corporate phase, graduates will be exposed to Oracle products, so as to understand how they are critical to customers’ businesses. “We strengthen their business skills through centralised training. This covers product information as well as soft skills, such as negotiation and thinking on your feet,” explained Frank Koo, Managing Director of Oracle Singapore.
In the second phase, graduates go through project rotations, so as to develop a broad understanding of different lines of businesses at Oracle. Through exposure to real business situations and the understanding of different role requirements, graduates will then be ready for on-the-job experience in the final phase of the program, which will see them being attached to a single line of business based on their skills and preference.
Both Danish Ahmed Khan and John Teo will soon embark on the final phase, having joined the program for about a year now. Business analyst Danish Ahmed Khan was born in Pakistan, and graduated from NUS in electrical engineering. “Many might perceive Oracle to be a computer science company, but even though I don’t have a computer science background, I could still enter the program. This is because they (Oracle) are not only looking at your discipline, but also at other attributes such as soft skills and leadership,” explained Danish, whose interest in the IT industry was sparked off by an internship in IBM.
Sales consultant John Teo agrees. “It’s true that Oracle does not take in just computer science, computer engineering and IT people. Business is also about sales and consulting, so you can’t just have technical people alone,” said the NTU business graduate.
After Oracle came to NUS in March last year, Danish sent in his CV to apply for the program, attracted by how it could offer him proper training and job rotations in a “huge name” like Oracle. As for John, he felt that IT was a growing sector in Singapore, which would provide him with a more interesting career as compared to the consumer goods industry, which is a common option for business graduates. Moreover, he learnt that Oracle Singapore was the company’s Asia Pacific headquarters, which would open numerous possibilities for a fresh graduate like himself.
A month later, Danish and John were shortlisted, and eventually made it through two rounds of interviews to be selected to join the program. John recalls going through the interviews and management games on the same day. According to him, only half of the candidates were shortlisted after one round of interviews in the morning, which was a stressful but effective selection process.
The program officially began in June 2007 for Danish and John’s batch, starting off with an orientation that introduced graduates from Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam to Oracle. Over six weeks, they underwent presentation training, psychometric profiling and participated in an Amazing Race all over Singapore. Representatives from different divisions even came down to share with the graduates what each line of business in Oracle is about, which provided them with a complete picture of the organisation.
Next came job rotations. Danish’s first rotation was in Application Sales, where he was mostly working with a sales team, supporting them with customer lists, building reports, customer tracking tools, campaigns and market research. “I enjoyed my work, as it gave me exposure to the sales model of Oracle...I also got to know different people from different departments,” said Danish. In February this year, he moved to Business Development, where he focuses on long-term deals with public sectors such as healthcare and education.
In comparison, John started off in Business Development, where he was a project manager for one of the government tenders in healthcare. “Subsequently, I was involved in an R&D center developing new software. Because I came from a business background, I helped out with writing a business plan for the marketing of the product,” shared John. In other words, John’s business background actually helped him in his work at Oracle, instead of working against him.
John is currently in Application Sales, where he handles large accounts in the manufacturing, retail and shipping sectors. “Oracle has a wide range of IT solutions software, so you basically try to understand their (clients) requirements, and help them solve their IT challenges and other support issues. It’s basically a sales job, but it’s interesting because of how you get to understand the respective industries and the challenges they face,” explained John.
Like no other
This nature of the business is one of three reasons that Managing Director Frank Koo cites, when asked to differentiate the Oracle Graduate Development Program from other management trainee programs. “”By joining Oracle, you will have a global approach to problem solving. You will know the multicultural aspects of business, and because our software goes into various industries, graduates will have the ability to know the critical success factors and strategies of the various businesses,” elaborated Frank.
Secondly, Frank reveals that Oracle puts in a great deal of effort to groom the graduates. “We put in a lot of investment in terms of bringing them up to become very effective business professionals. Within the two years, a graduate can actually accelerate the learning curve to a point where they will be equivalent to an executive who has been in the business for more than five years.”
Lastly, graduates in the program enjoy career flexibility. “Oracle has many lines of businesses. Whether it’s sales, consulting, support, education or customer service, we have the ability to provide graduates with different employment opportunities which suit them.”
As with many other graduate programs, the program is open to graduates from local universities, and campus recruitment is conducted in NUS, NTU and SMU. Based on the past two years, 12 candidates are ultimately selected for the program in each year. Graduates will not be bonded, which means that it is not mandatory to work in Oracle after the two year program.
While there is no restriction on the academic background of applicants, Frank reveals that Oracle is looking for people with “passion for life and work, as well as those who have global perspectives.” For instance, those who have done overseas attachments or worked with multinational companies may stand a higher chance, while team players with good leadership and communication skills will also be sought after.
However, those who expect to be spoon-fed through the program are mistaken. “The program is structured, but it also depends on how you structure your own progress in the company because of how fast-paced things can get. You have to be proactive in trying to find your own way around and learn things on your own,” advised John.
As Managing Director, Frank also has this to say to potential applicants: “Go beyond the books, put yourself in environments that give a diversity of experience, and be able to embrace IT effectively in communications, collaborations as well as various aspects of work.”
The Oracle Graduate Development Program is designed to nurture you to become an Oracle Professional.
The Program is run in Australia, New Zealand, China, India, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Pakistan, Korea, Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam.
How to apply?
Send your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org