Sunday, September 2, 2012

First Three Months Working in Singapore

The last three months have been an absolute whirlwind, I don't know how my mind has been able to keep up.  I knew that starting a new job in a new part of the world would be a challenge, but what has been the most difficult is learning to communicate and the social etiquette of those around me. Once you move to a foreign country outside the US, you realize how much of what we speak is figurative or are idioms that don't translate to someone who speaks English as a second language. The Singaporean language is very efficient and often curt. Taking this into account when you are trying to speak to a client professionally yet respectfully gets my brain going on many cylinders.  One of the best words I have begun using in my daily communications is "revert".  So much of correspondence in today's day and age is done via email and in the US if you want to let someone know you are working on something and will respond shortly, you say, "I'll get back to you soon", in Singapore, it is simply.  "I will revert".  It is the simple words like this which I feel are chosen so carefully, I feel the need to obsess over my emails as each word must have the absolute maximum impact.

While communication has been something of a challenge, learning the customers and lay of the land was a slow process in the beginning but is beginning to come together.  Just like I have done with my past two jobs, you have to start by learning the names of the customers in your territory, what their lines of businesses are, who they key stakeholders are, and then what are their pain points.  This last point will take the longest time but is the most important.  I have never been an Enterprise Sales person before and it is a completely different kind of sell.  That said, you have huge potential to be a consultant  for your customers and advise them on the strategies and solutions they should be looking toward that will help them meet their business needs. I love that aspect of this job.  I get to help my customers look like rockstars... perhaps its the American in me that thinks everyone wants to be a rockstar :)

After having spent the last year and a half working from home, I was a bit worried about how I would do in an office environment again.  I have also never used public transit to get to and from the office.  I was surprised at how easily I have fallen into a routine.  It has not been difficult getting up in the morning, usually making it to the gym before work, and then getting into the office (usually before the rest of my team) and starting off the day working.  It has been awkward learning what the local norms and expectations are in this particular office. My last two jobs would easily permit me to work from home and manage my own business. I feel that in SEA, the norm is more along the lines of, your butt needs to be in your seat during business hours unless you are out on a client meeting. This has taken some adjusting to and will hopefully get easier.  In terms of my colleagues, I initially gravitated toward the ex-pats as they are most familiar.  After being with the company for a few months now, I have found that I am growing closer to many of the locals in my office.  They are such high-spirited and good-natured people that i am enjoying getting to know them very much.  Many have taken on Western  names but for those that have not, it is very hard to learn their Eastern names and ensure I pronounce them correctly.  Slowly, but sure I'm getting there.

I just returned last night from Phuket, Thailand which was a beautiful experience.  We were only there for the weekend and look forward to going back and exploring more of the island next time.  I am off today to KL for a very senior level meeting with the largest telco company in Malaysia and hopefully will be moving toward closing some business for Q4.  I did not get near to hitting my goal for Q3 and really want to do well this upcoming quarter to make up for it.  I leave for the US on Friday and will be home for a week.  It will be my first trip home since I left at the end of February and I am SO excited to be home. In'n Out Burger is calling my name.