Bao Jia is an Assistant Vice President in the Infrastructure department where she evaluates and executes investments across Asia and Australia through direct investments, co-investments, credit, private investments in public equity (PIPE) and funds. As part of assessing the attractiveness and risks of an infrastructure business, her team analyses five key elements amongst others—cashflow predictability, inflation linkage, barriers to entry, yield certainty and the risk of obsolescence.
Outside of work, Bao Jia finds running meditative and trains with the GIC Dragonboat team. She also teaches O- and A-Level Mathematics at Prisons School, enjoys cooking, and volunteering for the local heritage and arts scene in her free time. She believes interests and community involvement outside of work broaden our perspectives. Sometimes, they can recharge the mind and bring clarity to a complex deal.
Why did you decide to join GIC?
I studied Economics in China and Energy and Natural Resources in the United States. Prior to joining GIC, I worked in the Singapore Government and for a multilateral development bank. Through these experiences, I have enjoyed thinking about how businesses grow, and working within high performing and global teams with a sense of purpose. These experiences informed my choice of long-term career with GIC.
Over about a decade of interacting with GICians, I have observed consistency in the emphasis for high performance and intellectual rigour, married with integrity and pride in the purpose. Joining the Infrastructure department was an opportunity to be amongst investors with a market reputation for being sophisticated and long-term, whilst contributing to a core purpose I believed in: that is to protect and enhance a strategic asset of Singapore—our national reserves.
What does your typical workday look like?
I split my time between different deals, each of which would be at a different stage of the deal cycle. I really appreciate the wide span of experiences my role has provided and the broad exposure across infrastructure sectors and geographies. I have been given opportunities to evaluate various investment opportunities ranging from Trans-Pacific subsea cable businesses, LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) vessel companies, wheat silos in India, and data centres in China. The learning curve has been electrifying!
I also try to commit at least an hour daily to catch up on industry news, and I find it efficient to do that during my morning or evening commute. My daily reads are Financial Times and Infralogic. The former is an effective way to stay in touch with the macro and more significant company or market-specific news. The latter is infrastructure-focused and keeps me up to date with transactions in the market. I also enjoy reading broker reports or industry expert interviews. These tend to provide a sense of the ground situation, which is important as we invest globally while based out of the Singapore office.
What do you like most about working here?
The intellectual rigour of the work as well as the dynamism within the team keep me going. It is an exciting time for our team, as we seek to ramp up our investment efforts in the infrastructure space albeit amidst more competition, as infrastructure assets tend to have greater resilience against stagflation. It has become even more important to sift through the noise, identify the right partners to back, understand the macro and implications thoroughly, find unique angles to entry, and pay a fair price commensurate with the risks and returns.
At GIC, the diversity in backgrounds and nationalities, and efforts to make everyone feel equal and included are apparent and encouraged. I believe these will enable GIC to continue to attract the best globally and will also influence GICians to be open-minded and magnanimous outside of our workplace and bring about positive influence on our communities.
How would you describe the learning & development culture at GIC?
The learning curve has been steep but so rewarding. HR and my senior management had provided an opportunity to double-hat in two departments (INFRA and GISR) when I first joined, and both teams had been welcoming and willing to teach. I am very grateful to the senior management within the Infrastructure department and beyond who had taken time to share advice and their experiences with me. In my role currently, I am also constantly encouraged to share my opinions, challenge my assumptions, and step out of my comfort zone.
Beyond our own departments, GIC provides avenues for us to enhance our interpersonal skills. There is a treasure trove of opportunities and resources like EISight, an internal portal for GIC’s top-of-the-house research for our total portfolio, and GIC School, the organisation’s learning and development arm, that help broaden our perspectives.
What you should know before joining GIC
GIC has a high-performing work culture, and it is a growing and global institution that can provide many opportunities if one is open-minded and willing to challenge oneself.
Notwithstanding, I feel that it is important to also reflect and understand what motivates you. This is a continuous process, but it gets easier if we could approach our job with open-mindedness, humility, and a dose of courage to fuel tougher days.