I’ve always dreamt of being an entrepreneur and that’s why I wanted to work in a place where I could learn the skillsets and the requisites of what it takes to go from an idea to an actual business. That was the biggest draw that led me to join SC Ventures, the Bank’s innovation, fintech investment and ventures arm, at the end of 2018.
At SC Ventures, I lead the client engagement work stream, where I bring our innovation platform to corporate organisations. I spend most of my time interacting with large organisations (especially the corporate venture capital units) while working on originating, incubating, structuring and executing joint ventures or co-investments as well as strategic partnerships with corporate clients of the Bank.
I’m actually one of the early members of SC Ventures who joined several months into its inception. Prior to that, I worked in several different roles in the Bank, ranging from group product, trade finance to business planning management in transaction banking. I’ve been with Standard Chartered right out of university as part of the International Graduate programme in New York.
I suppose I can be described as a “third culture kid” as I was born in India, but moved around quite a lot due to my parents’ relocation for work. Before the age of 8, I had moved into 3 different states within India. Following that, I spent several years in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and then Singapore, where I completed my high school. I got my degree in New York before I moved back to Singapore where I’ve been based ever since.
Having moved around quite a number of times, this exposure to various cultures and nationalities really helped form my world view. Diversity is something that I value in the Bank, as our presence in almost 60 markets around the world enables us to engage with people with different mindsets and ways of working.
Likewise, I would consider SC Ventures a melting pot of talent from all walks of life. We have technologists, entrepreneurs, designers and, of course, bankers and many more that we get to work with on a daily basis. The word we use often is “neuro-diversity” and it really does give us many opportunities to learn from colleagues who are all striving towards a common goal.
For example, I learned what it takes to design prototypes (how good I am is a different story) and also dabbled in creating a modular tech architecture while also getting exposed to ‘edge technology’ such as quantum computing or some of the Web 3 initiatives that we are working on. The ability to build your own capabilities, acquire knowledge and get exposure in different domains is what I really find amazing.
Another aspect of working in SC Ventures that I really enjoy is the flexibility of being able to dedicate my time to core responsibilities while also being able to get involved in other areas of interest. In particular, its flat organisational structure appeals to me.
Of course, such a fast paced learning culture is not without challenges. One thing that hit me quite hard especially during the pandemic was the need for boundaries between home and work. I realised quickly that long hours at the desk was not sustainable and it was a good lesson for me to take time off for myself, be it to have lunch away from my desk or to take my dog for a walk.
With the Bank being my first and only employer so far, I must say that it has given me many opportunities and career highlights that are unforgettable. One of them is the first strategic partnership at SC Ventures I incubated called TASConnect, a bank-agnostic supply chain finance platform. This brought together two large organisations – Lenovo and Standard Chartered – and was truthfully a difficult task especially since this was one of the first few times we were doing such a collaboration. I’m immensely proud after seeing its successful birth and TASConnect reaching new milestones every quarter.
Another experience that made a real impact on me is the Bank’s International Graduate (IG) programme. The network built is something I value and even though some have left the Bank, we continue to keep in touch and have forged many meaningful connections and friends through the IG programme.
There’s still so much I want to do and so much I want to learn here at SC Ventures. One piece of advice that has stayed with me is to not get comfortable. The moment you do, your learning will plateau. Luckily, I’m still immensely hungry to learn new things and I’m an annoyingly curious person – both traits have served me well and I will continue following this mantra.