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Speech by Second Minister S Iswaran at the IE Singapore Global Scholarship Awards Ceremony 2014 at the Intercontinental Hotel, Singapore

Speech by Second Minister S Iswaran at the IE Singapore Global Scholarship Awards Ceremony 2014 at the Intercontinental Hotel, Singapore

Parents and scholars,
Ladies and gentlemen,
1.  Good afternoon. I am happy to join you at the International Enterprise (IE) Singapore Global Scholarship Ceremony 2014.  To all our scholarship recipients, congratulations. This is a significant occasion that marks your first step towards a meaningful and fulfilling career in the global context.  We wish you all the best, and look forward to your important contributions, whether it is at IE Singapore, or one of our own promising companies.
Talent is critical for strong global growth
2.  Talent development is vital for companies and countries, especially in an era of heightened global competition.  A recent survey by PwC showed that 50 per cent of CEOs plan to increase global headcount in 2014[1]. Beyond sheer numbers, high performing companies usually have a comprehensive and well-thought out people strategy to attract, develop and retain talent in their organisations.  A good people strategy is crucial for the success of any company.  However, too often, it is given insufficient attention.  To compete globally with the best in the world, our companies must have robust people strategies that support their business growth. When well-executed, it will enable the organisation to develop a strong talent pool, from which it can groom future leaders.
Holistic Approach to Growing Talent
3.  More broadly, from a national perspective, such HR capabilities are also important to our economic competitiveness and growth.  Hence, IE Singapore has various manpower programmes to help our companies with talent attraction, talent development and international HR strategies.  Notably, IE provides customised assistance by understanding companies’ manpower needs, identifying critical HR issues, and creating solutions to support their global business strategies.
4.  Companies expanding overseas rely on their people to drive their international business plans.  IE provides funding support to enable such companies to send their staff members on overseas market attachments, acquainting them with local market conditions and expertise prior to their assignments.  There are also companies with multiple business units in overseas markets, which seek to invest in a global talent management system to better manage their diverse talent pool. IE works with them to engage third-party HR consultants to help develop such international manpower projects. 
5.  As more companies pay closer attention to manpower initiatives, we hope that Singapore’s talent base will continue to grow and catalyse their global expansion.
Developing talent with a global orientation and mindset
6.  This year, IE Singapore is awarding 16 scholarships, as part of its ongoing efforts to develop a strong Singaporean talent pool with a global mindset.  We introduced the Young Talent Programme (YTP) Scholarship last year to groom young talent for Singapore companies. I am happy that it has received a good response, with 45 per cent more applications this year compared to last year.  The scholars here today have been chosen from over 900 candidates through an extensive selection process. 
7.  IE Singapore and our corporate partners have prepared comprehensive roadmaps to help you gain a good grasp of their businesses. These include functional attachments and training programmes to help you understand the various sectors and business operations. On top of that, there will be mentorship and exposure to key projects and overseas assignments. All these will prepare you well to take on larger roles in the years to come.
8.  At IE Singapore, about a third of its scholars are now based in its overseas centres, across emerging and developed markets.  And there will be many opportunities for the IE Singapore scholars to work in these diverse and dynamic business environments.  In the private sector, our corporate partners in the Young Talent Programme (YTP) Scholarship hail from a wide range of industries – from hospitality to fashion/consumer goods, aerospace to oil and gas.  They also have strong overseas presence in markets like China, India, Southeast Asia, Middle East and Latin America.  They want to work with you to spearhead their international growth.
9.  While our IE Singapore and YTP scholars may come from different backgrounds, you share common traits in that you have a global outlook, are highly enterprising, and possess the drive to be leaders among your peers.
10. Lee Min Shing is one good example. He has been awarded the YTP scholarship with Ascott. As an avid and adventurous traveller, he went on a month-long motorcycle expedition from north to south Vietnam, as well as backpacking trips to India and northern Thailand.  These trips exposed him to different environments and gained him an appreciation of different cultures.  He is keen on an overseas career and is taking Vietnamese language classes as he believes that such knowledge will be helpful when working with locals.  His global mind-set and enterprising spirit will serve him well for a dynamic career with Ascott.
11.  IE Singapore’s scholar Jackie Xiao is no different.  His interest in international relations started early – at Raffles Institution, he was a founding member of the Tiltshift Summit organised for The Global Alliance of Leading-Edge Schools[2].  In 2011, the inaugural event was held in Singapore, where more than 100 students from over 20 countries came together to discuss solutions for the UN millennium development goals, covering issues such as healthcare, poverty and environment.  Jackie also founded Hair for Hope @ Raffles in 2010, which has raised, since its inception, over S$50,000 for children with cancer.  Self-starters like Jackie have the ability to inspire others, and I am confident that his drive and passion will contribute much to IE Singapore’s mission.
12.  Ultimately, our goal is to enable each Singaporean realize his or her full potential.  That will allow you to fulfil your dreams and aspirations, make a difference to our society, and build a better Singapore for all of us.
13.  Talent is what matters most when we competing at the highest levels on the global business stage.  I commend the companies participating in the YTP for adopting a forward-looking approach in this regard, because the scholars of today will be your competitive edge tomorrow.
14.  To our scholars, I urge you to make full use of the opportunities given to you.  As you study and gain experience, try to look at issues through the lens of your organisation, and how you can add value as core member of its team.  As importantly, all of us who have been fortunate enough to get a good education and other opportunities, must always remember to pay it forward whenever possible, so as to create opportunities for the next generation.
15.  Once again, my congratulations to our scholarship recipients and your families, as well as our YTP corporate partners.  I wish you every success in your endeavours.  Thank you. 

[1]PwC 17th Annual Global CEO Survey 2014
[2] The Global Alliance of Leading-Edge Schools (GALES) is an informal organisation of leading preparatory and secondary schools from around the world. It was initiated in the year 2010.
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