Living in Singapore

Written by Aaron Bolton on 07/07/2016

What inspired you to work abroad?

Having worked in the London Compliance recruitment market for close to 5 years I was keen to make a change, Black Swan Group presented me with the opportunity to make this change an international one. I hadn’t previously contemplated the idea of a move overseas but when the chance arose to launch our first office outside of London, it was simply an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. 

The move has assisted me in accelerating my career in more ways than I could have imagined and has given us the opportunity to launch a further office in Sydney with more to come.

 What were the biggest challenges of the move?

Not knowing what to bring with me! Before moving to Singapore, the furthest East I had ever been was Africa. I had no idea what to expect from the climate, the business culture, the social life etc. Luckily there were plenty of people on hand to provide their advice and experiences.

Another challenge was the time it took to learn all of the business customs. There is a huge difference between the way people in Singapore and London want to interact with you and when. For example, in London, lunchtime is a great time to call and discuss opportunities with candidates, in Singapore this is a precious period for most people and you rarely get much traction with calls between 12 and 2pm!

Describe your first impressions of Singapore?

As the flight was coming in to land the first thing I noticed was how vast the shipping business was here, there were tankers moored for as far as the eye could see! When I got into the city I was impressed by how built up and well connected the whole city is. Although temperatures are regularly in the mid-30s and extremely humid, most of the CBD can be accessed underground or through air conditioned areas. From a work perspective the proximity of all clients is a real benefit, unlike London where financial firms are spread across the City, West End and Canary Wharf, almost all FS firms are based around Raffles Place making it much easier to meet with candidates and clients face-to-face, even at short notice.

What would your advice be to anyone who is looking to work overseas?

Having now lived overseas for 2 years I highly recommend it to anyone to try, as long as your personal situation will allow it. The experience that working overseas gives is invaluable, and is particularly pronounced within recruitment when so much of your job is about engaging and talking with people from all different backgrounds. Having been thrown out of my comfort zone into a different market, the move has given me a whole new perspective on people’s drivers and motivations when taking on a new role.

Also, if you can make a move to somewhere like Singapore then the tax regime isn’t too bad either…

Now you are settled are there any particular local traits you particularly like? 

Given the size of the Singapore market and its historical issues with shortages of talent then business development here can be much easier. If you have the product then firms will work with you as they are as keen as you to secure the best candidates.

From a personal life perspective I love the local attitude to holidays, even weekend breaks. It is unusual to be in Singapore for more than 4-6 weeks at a time without a weekend or longer trip to another country in South East Asia be that Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Malaysia or even further afield to the likes of Australia or Hong Kong, both of which are within a 4 hour flight!

What would you miss the most when you / if you leave?

The social side of life here. Living as an expat in Asia everyone is very sociable and keen to get people involved in all that they are doing. This gives you chances to experience so much and with the weather you can do some great things such as wakeboarding in the evening after work or going to the beach any day of the year! 

What do you miss the most about London?

The biggest downside for me is not being so close to friends and family. You do miss out on a lot of things such as birthdays and other celebrations. With the amount of my friends now starting to get married it also makes attending their weddings quite expensive!


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