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Balik Kampung Kopitiam Chat: Irvine Yeo

Senior tech candidate, Irvine Yeo, shares more on his journey back to Singapore from the US. Don’t miss Irvine's advice as well on things to take note of when considering a move back to the sunny island.

Our Robert Walters Kopitiam Chat is an initiative from our Balik Kampung Program, where we spotlight overseas Singaporeans who made successful career moves back home. Watch the videocast of this episode here.

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 Hi, I'm Ivy Low, International Candidate Manager at Robert Walters Singapore. I'm your host for this special Balik Kampung Kopitiam chat, where we spotlight overseas Singaporeans, who made successful career moves back home.

Today, it is my pleasure to have Irvine Yeo, join us. Irvine is currently Head of Technology at CBC Group, which is a private equity firm headquartered in Singapore. Welcome Irvine and thank you for making time for us today.

Irvine: Thank you, Ivy. It's my pleasure.

Ivy: For our listeners who might not know Irvine, Irvine is well-versed in technology and management across different industries and regions. In his last four years prior to moving back to Singapore, Irvine was based in San Francisco, followed by New York City.

Now, Irvine, you had an exciting career in San Francisco and New York City. What made you Balik Kampung to Singapore?

Irvine: Thank you for the kind words, Ivy. From the beginning, I had a clear understanding that Singapore was my long-term plan, whether it be for my career or family. After achieving my work and personal objectives in the US, I can say that my heart is full, and I'm contented and thankful for this adventure. And I was ready to embark on Life's next journey, which is to return to Singapore to settle down. In addition, Singapore is an affordable place with low-income taxes and offers delicious and reasonably priced food.

Ivy: It's always nice to be able to eat yummy food that we grew up with, but the main reason shared by many overseas Singaporeans looking to move back is their family. And in your case, it is to start one. So, congratulations!

We all know that the decision to move back home after spending years abroad is very challenging. What concerns did you have about redeveloping your career back home?

Irvine: In my opinion, I had to let go of a valuable and meaningful opportunity, thus my primary concern was to secure a suitable role that will enable me to capitalise on the skills and experience I’ve acquired, particularly over the last few years.

Additionally, I have some reservations about the relevance of my experience since it was primarily focused on the Americas, meaning the region, the people, and the culture. I wondered whether this would be less advantageous compared to having Singapore or Asia-based experience. And of course, compensation was a consideration since it is common for individuals to experience a significant reduction in pay when relocating back from the US.

Ivy: Yeah, these are legitimate concerns shared by numerous overseas Singaporeans. Especially when they feel that they've lost touch with the Singapore job market. So you must be relieved to find out that companies here appreciate your tech skills and international exposure. Also, compensation is a big thing, overseas Singaporeans will always wonder if companies in Singapore can match their expectations or their last compensation. And for overseas Singaporeans who are moving back with family members, they will also wonder if their spouses will be able to secure a job quickly or if their children will be able to adapt to the new environment and education system. So with your initial concerns, how did things work out? Were there any unexpected roadblocks?

Irvine: Fortunately for me, during that time the job market was flourishing, which provided me with numerous options to choose from. Additionally, since I don't have any pressing deadline to obtain a visa, I was able to take my time and explore all the possibilities.

Ivy: That's truly great news. I have to say it's pretty noteworthy that you managed to firm up your role within just six months. Truth is, in general it can be challenging for senior candidates to secure a role that interests them and match their desired compensation quickly.

I remember reaching out to you when I saw the change in your LinkedIn status. That is my job, right? Networking with overseas Singaporean candidates and always being on a lookout for the ones who are ready to move home. Having gone through the process, how did you personally feel about the Balik Kampung campaign? I hope we helped you in your career transition back home.

Irvine: Yeah of course. I think the Balik Kampung is a highly valuable programme designed for overseas Singaporean, and its team members Ivy, Faiz and Bharath, consistently demonstrated professionalism, friendliness and timeliness in their engagement with me. One of the strengths of the programme is the team-collaborative approach, which involved activating multiple consultants to assist in finding suitable roles for me. Additionally, Balik Kampung prepares me for interviews by providing relevant information about the hiring company and department, even the interviewer as well; emphasising important factors for the employers and highlighting my strength as appropriate.

And finally, the programme's sincerity in fostering genuine, ongoing relationship with me is noteworthy. Bharath and Ivy continue to check in with me and schedule meals together, emphasising the long term and personal nature of their commitment to my wellbeing.

Ivy: Thank you so much for your kind words, Irvine. Well, I find that when partnering overseas-based Singaporeans in their career search, because they're so far away from home, it is important to constantly engage them, keep them updated on the progress, and provide necessary advice. In your case, Irvine, as you mentioned, you were supported by a team of specialist recruiters who took the time to know you, your personality and career goals. And afterwards, work as a team to market you to suitable top companies that you would thrive in. So I'm truly happy that you enjoyed the process as well.

As we come to the end of our session, Irvine, have you got any tips for Singaporeans who are thinking or moving back home? Any specific advice for those who are based in New York or the US in general?

Irvine: Yeah, I think importantly is to continue upskilling yourself regularly. The job market and technology changes very rapidly. And also, begin your job search early, and attend interviews even for roles that may not initially seem appealing. This helps you to gain a better understanding of the job market, and allows you to brush up your interview skills.

And specific to New York and San Francisco, I think it's important to plan in advance, especially if you need to ship items back. This process can take several months, so it's important to start early, and consider opting for a flat rate for shipping instead of paying by weight, as the cost can add up quickly, like in my case. And if possible, arrange for the shipping container to be sent to your home, so that they can load the items directly, which reduces the risk of theft.

Ivy: That's great advice, Irvine. The logistic bit is especially interesting to me and it's very practical information, which I feel you would only know if you have gone through the process. So thank you again, Irvine.

We've come to the end of our Balik Kampung Kopitiam chat. It was really good to hear how achieving your career and personal goals in San Francisco and New York, you wanted to embark on your next life's stage back home in Singapore. And despite your initial worries about whether you could find a role that matches your skillsets, your regional experience, and your expected compensation, the Balik Kampung campaign brought together a team of dedicated specialist recruiters to help you find and secure the best role. I'm sure other overseas Singaporeans will also appreciate your insights and tips on moving back home.

Irvine: Thank you Ivy.

Ivy: No problem, Irvine and thank you once again. Take care.

To our listeners, feel free to explore our Balik Kampung campaign and reach out to me to find out more. Bye!

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