Jonathan is an Associate in the Community and Employee Engagement team under the Corporate Affairs and Communications department. His Employee Communications portfolio sees him generate long-form content for internal audiences, keeping GICians informed about the goings-on around the company and finding new ways to engage them. He also partners other departments to amplify their key messages across the entire organisation, such as by facilitating their use of the intranet to publish articles, as well as liaising with external agencies if needed. In addition, he has a Social Impact role, in which he supports GIC’s efforts to do good in the communities it operates in, particularly through the GIC Enable Programme, which promotes inclusive employment of the disabled at GIC.
A storyteller by trade and training, Jonathan also spends his time on speaking and writing engagements, contributing articles to various publications and appearing as a panellist in several webinars, mostly related to disability issues. Jonathan is also a SingHealth Patient Advocacy Network advisor for KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital where he analyses the non-medical aspects of the patient experience, helping the hospital identify ways to improve them.
Why did you decide to join GIC?
I landed here by chance. In 2019, our Managing Director of Human Resources, Peter, had lunch with a colleague who told him that her two autistic children were having difficulty staying employed. This prompted Peter to consider the role GIC could play in assisting Singapore’s disabled in finding employment. That year, under his direction, GIC began offering internships to students with disabilities from local universities. This was the birth of the GIC Enable Programme.
Around that time, I was looking for an internship. SG Enable, a government-supported organisation that promotes disability inclusion in Singapore, matched my profile with GIC’s internship program and recommended me to GIC. I passed the interviews and tests and was offered an internship position.
Despite my apprehension about what I was getting myself into – I had no understanding of GIC or asset management and felt very intimidated – I took up the offer because I recognised that GIC is a large and well-known organisation, and having its brand name on my resume would boost my credentials when it came to looking for a permanent job after graduation. As it turned out, I performed well enough during my internship that I was offered a permanent position. I accepted because GIC was fair in its proposed compensation and benefits – it did not try to take advantage of me with subpar terms simply because I am a disabled employee.
What does your typical workday look like?
I start my day by catching up on emails from the night before and then sorting out all the follow-up actions I need to take. This is followed by meetings to review ongoing projects, as well as follow ups.
I like to do work that demands long periods of deep concentration, such as writing an article and, in the afternoon, I may dedicate several hours to this depending on whether I have such an assignment on my plate.
I also attend to editorial requests from other departments looking to publish articles on the intranet, liaising with colleagues from those departments to understand their needs and help them find solutions, including troubleshooting layout bugs – an activity which, strangely enough, I find quite fun.
What do you like most about working here?
My team is by far the best part of my job. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I feel just as comfortable with my teammates as I do with my own family. We joke and exchange banter every day, with an ease that belies the fact that we’ve only known each other for about a year! I’m a very relationship-oriented person, so I feel blessed to work with a group of co-workers with whom I can be completely authentic.
I benefited from GIC’s diversity and inclusion (D&I) efforts because I was offered an internship through the GIC Enable Programme. Without the D&I initiatives, my career would not exist!
I can tell that GIC cares about D&I and works hard to ensure people from diverse backgrounds feel included in the organisation. It’s still a work in progress; some dimensions, such as disability, are relatively new on GIC’s radar. The GIC Enable Programme was established in 2019. However, GIC recognizes the importance of D&I, policies are in place to further the cause, with senior management buy-in, and, most importantly, GIC employees all play a role in building an inclusive culture by behaving respectfully towards one another regardless of differences. The Social Impact team I’m in supports underserved segments of the community through volunteerism and funding. Unlike traditional investment institutions, which must attract new clients in order to remain in business, we are a sovereign wealth fund with only the Singapore government as our client. We don’t need to market ourselves using corporate social responsibility as a cheap public relations gimmick. As a result, our Social Impact work truly comes from the heart.
How would you describe the learning & development culture at GIC?
Learning and development do not have to take place in the context of training sessions and upskilling courses. Soft skills such as confidence and stakeholder management are where I feel I’ve grown the most. My job requires me to interact with people from all over the organisation as well as external partners. I can’t afford to be self-conscious. I’ve learned when and how to seize a situation by the scruff of the neck and own it, as well as when to back down and let diplomacy take its course. When my department hosted interns, I gave in to my strong parental instincts, which have no other outlet, and helped them adjust to this fast-paced and unfamiliar environment. That experience enhanced my understanding of the work we do at GIC – as they say, you must truly master the material before you can teach it to someone else.
What you should know before joining GIC
To some, GIC seems like a highly secretive organisation. As a communications professional, I’ll admit that there are some things we can’t discuss because of our obligations to our Client – the Singapore government. But please be aware that we are constantly advocating for greater transparency in accordance with best practices in our industry. We are aware of the public’s desire for greater transparency, and we are committed to addressing those concerns!
Also, be courageous. From the outside, GIC appears to be a high and mighty organisation, but we’re all humans here. There’s no need to be afraid of us! Apply if you’re interested in one of the job openings, and be yourself if you get an interview! GIC will never be mean to you and will accept you for who you are, so don’t be afraid.