SPRING: Enabling Enterprises
Fuelled by her love for Business Management, Charlotte shares how her work at SPRING helps to develop local enterprises.
By Lim Yan Wen
Clad in a fitting black jacket complete with heels that exude confidence, Charlotte Lin is in her element when she enthuses about her work in SPRING Singapore. “I've always wanted to work in businesses, or anything related to business and marketing,” Charlotte says.
The 25-year-old, who has worked with SPRING for close to three years, is now a Manager who holds concurrent appointments in Retail and the International Partnership Office (Europe) (IPO). Armed with a degree in Business Management from the Singapore Management University (SMU), Charlotte has a double major in Marketing and Corporate Communications.
This academic combination has prepared her well for her work with SPRING today. Besides accumulating classroom knowledge, Charlotte gained invaluable networking skills and knowledge through overseas exchange and immersion stints in Sweden's Lund University and Switzerland’s St Gallen University, as well as a business study mission trip to Silicon Valley in the United States.
Charlotte is now part of SPRING Singapore, which develops and enhances the competitiveness of enterprises in Singapore. This is in line with SPRING’s aim to develop innovative companies and encourage a competitive SME sector locally.
Charlotte's main role as Retail Manager in the Industry Development Group (IDG) is to provide assistance to SMEs in areas such as financing, management development, technology and access to markets. “It is immensely satisfying and fulfilling to assist enterprises in their expansion plans, and seeing them fly and take off to the next level feels really good,” Charlotte says.
Building the Contacts
Most of Charlotte's time is devoted to the account management of growth-oriented retail enterprises. “I work with industry key players, from big and medium-sized companies to trade associations and even shopping malls, to develop and promote retail industry-wide strategies and programmes,” she explains.
The dynamic nature of SPRING’s mission means Charlotte gets to come into regular contact with a diverse range of people, from CEOs and managing directors of companies, government officials from ministries and statutory boards, to trade commissioners and budding entrepreneurs.
This aspect of Charlotte's job poses both an opportunity as well as challenge. “On one hand, I get to build a rich pool of business contacts and network with key industry players and stakeholders, and on the other hand, the learning curve is steep when it comes to learning how to handle the diverse natures and styles of enterprises and experienced CEOs,” she says.
The Overseas Experience
Nevertheless, Charlotte’s work as Retail Manager with IDG has given her plenty of opportunities to partake in overseas business missions. One of her more memorable projects was an overseas business mission trip to Germany and France with a group of Singaporean companies in the furniture industry. “The objective was to help the Singaporean delegates understand and penetrate the European furniture market and also to provide them with networking opportunities with their more established European counterparts,” Charlotte says.
The 10-day trip saw them going to meetings and visiting top European brands, design schools and importers. “At the end of the day, the delegates identified many business ideas, concepts, and potential collaborative efforts,” Charlotte adds.
While her concurrent appointment in the IPO for European markets takes up a smaller portion of her workload at SPRING, Charlotte is equally enthusiastic about it. The aim of the IPO is to facilitate new partnerships and collaborations between Singaporean and foreign SMEs in new markets.
“I partner closely with embassies, trade commissions and chambers of commerce to organise and support local and overseas business events. For example, we brought key players in the furniture industry to three cities in Italy for networking events,” Charlotte explains.
Moving Up and On
SPRING also encourages career progression both vertically (in Charlotte’s case, a promotion from Senior Officer to Manager), and laterally (job rotations within SPRING and with other government agencies or companies in the private sector). Charlotte joined SPRING upon graduation to learn more about businesses, and she has since gained more than what she had asked for.
Indeed, the opportunities given to her at SPRING have enhanced her ability to engage with others across all levels – such as her supportive colleagues, visionary superiors, and top-notch businessmen – and also helped improve her project management skills.
Charlotte recommends young and passionate people who are interested in businesses to consider joining SPRING. “It will provide you with valuable training and exposure to key industries and promising SMEs, and prepare you well to become an entrepreneur or join an SME later in your life,” she says.