Duly Employed

Just in case some of you assume that I’m still contributing to the 2.5% unemployment rate in Singapore, I have been working at Bloomberg for about six months now.

There are two common reactions I get when people find out that I’m working at Bloomberg. First, they have never heard of the company and give a polite acknowledgement, to save both of us the embarrassment. Second, they read about the company before in the newspapers — since we are a major news wire service — and think news is our core business. I don’t really blame them though. Bloomberg is a private company owned largely by the current New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, so little information is available to the public. I myself did not know much about the company until I went down for a recruitment seminar and understood more about its business.

Put simply, Bloomberg is a global provider of financial information and news, the centrepiece of which is the Bloomberg Professional service, commonly known as the Bloomberg terminal. It integrates all our data, news and analytics into a single platform, allowing easy access for our users. I apologise if this sounds a lot like a marketing pitch, but after going through 16 rounds of interviews to convince the interviewers that I know about the company’s business, regurgitating this standard script becomes almost instinctual.

I’m not a data analyst, like most of my friends expected me to be given my finance background. I was in Global Customer Support, aka call centre, for about five months and have just been transferred to the Analytics Desk, aka helpdesk, about three days ago. Out of all the different questions I get regarding my choice of job scope, Hor Wai has encapsulated the essence of the question everyone has on his or her mind: am I not overqualified to be a call centre operator or a helpdesk representative?

Based on the general impression Singaporeans have about call centres, I am indeed overqualified for the job. But of course, everything is judged relatively. My fellow GCUS colleagues include a former lawyer who worked at a New York law firm, a former auditor from one of the Big Four accounting firms in Singapore, a recent graduate with a Masters in International Relations, and a research analyst who used to work at the largest bank in the world. In ADSK, I work with former interest rate traders, FX traders and portfolio managers, who traded in financial products I have not even heard of before I joined Bloomberg. I would be an arrogant young punk to think that I’m overqualified and better than these experienced and knowledgeable people.

Yes, my job involved taking calls from clients when I was in GCUS — just like a normal call centre operator, and now I’m supposed to help clients use and understand our system in ADSK — just like a normal helpdesk representative. The money may not be as great as other jobs in the financial industry; to be honest I don’t expect to get six-month bonuses as a call centre operator either. However, there are always things to be learnt and opportunities to be found in everything you do; it’s only a matter of perspective. I also get to knock off at six every day, allowing me to have dinner with my family every weekday night — something I cherish very much.

Most importantly — and I think this applies to every job — I enjoy working with my fun-loving GCUS colleagues. They are the reason I was quite reluctant to transfer to ADSK. But of course, it’s good that I moved because I was indeed getting a little too comfortable back in GCUS. When you’re comfortable in your job, chances are you’re not learning as much as you used to. You always have to get out of your comfort zone in order to improve yourself.

I will try to post some of the photos I’ve taken with my colleagues up on SG Watch, but I predict few will make the final cut. Most of the photos are either blurry because we took them in a drunken state, or are too scandalous and have to be censored.

Alcohol always makes an easy scapegoat.

21 May 2006 · My Life

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