Tan Hsueh Mei
Acting Head of External Communications, Business
I've built my career around communications for over 15 years, starting out at the Economic Development Board promoting Singapore as a manufacturing hub for the chemical and pharmaceutical industry. Then I made the move to financial services, looking after internal communications for American Express' credit card business. I joined Standard Chartered in 2008 working in the Wholesale Banking (WB) group communications team.
I was attracted to the Bank for its solid reputation and strong financials. It also has a strong presence in Asia, particularly in Singapore, which is a global hub for the Bank's business. For someone balancing a career and a young family, the Bank offers enormous opportunities to work at both the country and group level in Singapore.
As with many other roles in Standard Chartered, there is a steep learning curve, pushing you to your full potential. The opportunities will come if you are open to new challenges. I joined a newly created team and was excited by this greenfield opportunity. My team focuses on shaping and influencing the way internal and external stakeholders view the Bank. With internal stakeholders, it's about helping senior leaders communicate the business agenda and goals to their team. This includes working with senior leaders on organisational changes and announcements, townhalls and other employee communication.
With external stakeholders, it's about defining how the media, regulators, competitors and clients see the Bank. This covers a number of areas; firstly there's the business as usual announcements such as executive appointments and moves. We work on introducing new appointments to the media and other stakeholders. Positioning the Bank's leaders as thought leaders in their respective fields in the emerging markets is another focus. I work with business leaders to develop articles around the Bank's successes and key priorities, for example our focus and leadership in the area of RMB internationalisation and the growth opportunities with trade corridors. This is a key strategy in building share of mind around our expertise. After all, the strength of our leaders is also a reflection of the strength of the Bank.
We are also responsible for reputational risk management which relates to protecting the Bank and our brand with communication advice and support. For example, around delicate situations such as business restructuring, acquisitions and employee issues, where as a leading international bank we need to ensure that our stakeholders are kept informed with information on the activities and on how they sit within our commitment to our markets, our strategy and to a strong control environment. This is an area of work I find very interesting since you are required to have a good understanding of your stakeholders and the dynamic operating environment.
My day can be very unpredictable. You can get a query from a journalist in the morning and depending on your point of view, it can be a case of throwing a spanner in the works for your plans for the day or offering an amazingly fulfilling opportunity to deliver for the Bank. Either way, it's not unusual to spend the rest of the day chasing down answers and developing materials around topics you had not planned to work on.
I also spend time interacting with journalists as this role requires building strong rapport with the media. The Bank has earned a reputation as a leading institution that builds deep relationships with its clients and with stakeholders like the media - a "go-to" source for expert opinion about the industry.
While it can be a challenging balancing act, it's also an adrenalin rush. To thrive in this role you'll need resilience, the ability to multi-task and the flexibility to switch gears very quickly. Something I have come to be pretty well versed in, from balancing a career at Standard Chartered while taking care of four young children at home.
I've always believed in the importance of being authentic -- doing things to the best of your abilities while maintaining the highest standards of pride and integrity in what you do. This is one of the reasons why I joined the Bank. We've not only built a strong business, we believe in balancing our ambition with a conscience.
I have worked on a wide range of communication projects working across our geographies and both our businesses. The Bank has deep roots established over more than 150 years and yet at the same time is always looking to stay ahead of the curve, innovate and do things better. This openness means I have constant opportunities to challenge myself and advance my career.
In every decision I make, I'm driven to do the very best for myself and ultimately my family. At Standard Chartered, there is job satisfaction knowing that I'm able to balance both my work and family aspirations.
"At Standard Chartered, there is job satisfaction knowing that I’m able to balance both my work and family aspirations."
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