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For five years, Carmen Lum worked for an international financial institution in Hong Kong, and led an audit team with businesses across Asia and globally. Though she has settled nicely in her job and enjoyed life in her new home, the pangs of familial ties began to have a pull on her, and she yearned to return to Singapore to spend time with her parents.

Armed with regional working experience and strong auditing knowledge, she took the plunge to return home in March 2019.

Not one to rest on her laurels, Carmen also took this opportunity to upskill by enrolling for a full-time course in Master's in Professional Accounting at a local university. The course has helped in broadening her skills in auditing and gave her a better understanding of accounting fundamentals.

But just when things were going well for Carmen and she was acclimatising to life in Singapore, Covid-19 hit our shores in 2020 putting a dent in her career plans.

Support from Career Coach

Amid job concerns in an economy that was battered by the pandemic, Carmen approached Workforce Singapore career coaching services which in turn recommended that she reached out to IBF Careers Connect as she was keen to continue working in the financial industry.

A career coach helped to polish her resume and introduced her to relevant IBF webinars to expand her network and enhance job opportunities. One of the sessions she attended was part of the "Conversation with IBF Fellows" series which allowed Carmen to broaden her network with other finance professionals and provided her with practical tips to return to the financial industry.

Carmen said, "My career adviser was there to guide, advice and support me throughout the engagement. His constructive advice helped me in my job search and in my interviews to getting hired…. He truly made the difference in my job search."

She elaborated that her career adviser has also shared the importance of recognizing her own achievements and showcasing them appropriately to her prospective employers. His confidence in her abilities and unwavering support was impetus for her to press on.

Coupled with her transferable skills on top of her regional experience, Carmen landed a role as an audit manager with Citi Singapore in December 2021.

Taking the Leap

Looking back, Carmen wholeheartedly believed in the benefits of working overseas.

What of this experience was most valuable to Carmen? It was her personal and professional growth. Having to navigate different work environments, Carmen had to hone her ability to adapt to different circumstances and diverse talents. By fostering a collaborative work environment with diverse stakeholders across cultures and generations, it has given her better communication and problem-solving skills.

She has also developed a more open and agile mindset as well as cultivate a diverse perspective through her working experience in Hong Kong. Besides getting to experience a new culture in Hong Kong, it has helped her understand her goals and aspirations a lot better.

Her current career aspiration is to be a subject matter expert in her new audit role in risk management. She also hopes to deepen her partnerships with her stakeholders and be a trusted advisor to them with her audit skills and business knowledge.

Taking Charge of Her Career 

The past two years have certainly been quite a ride for Carmen having to cope with adapting to life in Singapore and a new norm of working as well as a new job.

Yet, she has taken these changes in her stride and continues to deepen her skills and knowledge in her new role day-by-day.

Seeking career counselling and guidance has helped her tremendously. Carmen said this is especially helpful for those who have been away from Singapore for a few years. As IBF Careers Connect provides targeted career advice for those in the financial industry, it has given her a better understanding of the hiring opportunities and expectations within the sector.

When asked for her advice for those who are planning to take on overseas postings or return to Singapore, Carmen said "Plan out what your next steps are and have the mindset to really adjust yourself." She added that keeping abreast with latest developments in the industry and networking with like-minded peers are also important.

Carmen is a clear example of one who takes charge of her career!

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