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"The ten-year friendship that took my career to the next level"

There were many memorable career milestones across Serene Gwee’s sixteen-year stint at a motor vehicle manufacturer. It was the place where she impacted marketing strategies globally, trying out technologies like augmented and virtual reality. It was also the place she built her own team for the very first time. Eventually, the time came when Serene began thinking: what next?

“After 16 years with the same company, it felt like my career had plateaued a little,” Serene reflects. “There were other career goals I wanted to achieve. It was time for a different environment.” So, she called up an old friend, LingXiang Lee at Robert Walters Singapore, to discuss more.

The timing couldn’t have been better. Soon after they caught up, a newly created role came onto Ling’s radar. The remit asked for an experienced marketing lead who could develop a marketing plan, as well as build the team that would drive it – all from scratch. Ling thought of Serene immediately and encouraged her to apply. Soon enough, Serene won the job.

Though this job transition seemed effortless, Serene’s success was years in the making, one she dates back to nearly a decade ago when she first connected with Ling in search of some advice and direction.

“Back then, like many of my peers who had entered the mid-career stage, I felt uncertain about where I should be headed,” she relates.

“Ling provided sound advice that helped me crystallise my career goals.”

Over the years, Serene grew into an experienced marketing expert in her own right and Ling continued sending any suitable roles along her way.

Throughout this time, they kept talking. The conversations gave Serene a competitive advantage when she became more active in her job search. Ling’s insights into market trends allowed Serene to understand which positions she was best suited for and how she could update her resume to place herself in the best light.

“Ling always made herself available to take a call with me,” notes Serene. “After such a long time off the job market, preparing for the interview was a challenge. And there were definitely some nerves because I was gunning for a big role. Ling understood my concerns and helped me feel prepared.”

A year on, Serene has settled nicely into her role as the Head of Marketing Communications at a sustainable transport solutions company. While it’s been gratifying for her to continue advancing towards her career goals, winning the job isn’t the only thing Serene is grateful for.

“After all these years, Ling and I have become friends,” she says. “That, for me, has been the most valuable part of this journey.”

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