Private equity is a tough industry to break into globally, but add in the fact that the Singapore sector is decidedly smaller and there are limited opportunities for those without PE experience, and it’s a whole different proposition.
To help inspire you, we’ve looked through online public profiles of private equity professional in Singapore – both junior and senior – to see how they got their initial break.
Here’s a selection of interesting PE people working in Singapore and a summary of their diverse career paths.
Alex Sao-Wei Lee
Lee boasts impeccable academics – a degree in Chemical Engineering from Stanford and an MBA from INSEAD. After working as an engineer after graduating, he started his investment career at Temasek subsidiary Vertex in 2000, according to his public profile. He then spent six years at Coller Capital, the global private equity fund, clocking up valuable experience working in London as part of his stint there. Lee has been at Axiom Asia Private Capital for the past seven years – he’s now a partner and head of secondary investments.
Cecilia Yao Wang
Do large private equity firms in Singapore hire people with an academic background in the sectors they want to invest in? Yes, if Wang is anything to go by. She covers the healthcare sector at Partners Group and was hired in 2015 without any PE experience, according to her public profile. What she does have are two PhDs: one from Nanyang Technological University in Materials Science and Engineering, and the other from the Israeli Institute of Technology in Biotechnology. Partners Group was no doubt also impressed by her selection in 2014 as Stanford University’s Biodesgin Fellow in MedTech Innovation.
Foo works for Singapore firm Armstrong Asset Management, focusing on PE investments in renewable energy across Southeast Asia. She came to the boutique in 2011 after working for big-name brands in PE, investment banking and consultancy. She joined Accenture after graduating, and moved to Goldman Sachs in 2004 and then Merrill Lynch in 2005. With less than four years’ IB experience under her belt, Foo got her break into the buy-side – she joined The Carlyle Group in 2007 and began “deal sourcing, analysis, structuring and execution of private equity investments”.
Lima joined her current firm, DWM, in the US in 2008 and then set up its Singapore office. DWM’s private equity arm invests in financial institutions that help low-income populations in emerging markets – and Lima has a CV to suit this more diverse PE role. She began her career at Brazilian bank Itaú Unibanco, is currently a board member of a Chinese micro-finance company, and has an MSc in Environment and Development from the London School of Economics.
Hwa Jie Soh
Soh is proof that private equity firms in Singapore do hire graduates straight from university – and not just from Ivy League colleges. Soh is now a private equity analyst at Eastspring Investments, after graduating last year with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the National University of Singapore. His academic career was naturally littered with achievements – he was the NUS-UOB International Case Competition champion and runner up in the HSBC Asia Pacific Business Case Competition. Soh also clinched an elusive PE internship at Hera Capital in 2014 to complement his summer stints at GIC and UOB.
Many junior investment bankers dream of moving to private equity after three years and see IBD as a mere stepping stone. Lim has turned this into reality. She joined Morgan Stanley in 2011 and executed M&A and capital-markets deals within the consumer and real-estate sectors, according to her online profile. In 2013, she moved to RHB Investment Bank, got a promotion to associate, and started specialising in debt capital markets. For the past two years, Lim has been with L Capital Asia, a PE fund sponsored by French luxury goods company LVMH, putting her finance skills and consumer-sector knowledge to good use across the “fashion, F&B and specialty retail industries”.
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