Nigel is an Assistant Vice President in the Real Estate department at GIC. Based in the Tokyo office, his primary focus is on investment management and asset management for real estate in Japan. Investing in commercial real estate is a cradle-to-grave task, which involves conducting due diligence, negotiating with counterparties, and writing internal investment papers at acquisition. After acquisition, he takes care of the asset by setting budgets and developing business plans until it is time to divest the asset.
Outside of work, Nigel loves to indulge in the world of improvisational theatre. It is a creative outlet that allows him to explore his artistic side while reminding him to appreciate the present moment. Whether he is performing on stage or simply practicing with his fellow improvisers, he always feels energised and inspired by the experience.
Why did you decide to join GIC?
My journey with GIC began when I participated in a finance event organised by the company during my junior college years in Singapore. I was immediately drawn to the dynamic nature of GIC’s work and how there was no fixed way of doing investments. This excitement led me to apply for the GIC Scholarship and subsequently enrol in the GIC Professionals Programme after completing my studies.
During the interview, I remember being asked about my interests and fields of study, which included economics and hospitality. The interviewer suggested that a job in real estate could be a good fit for me. Looking back, after six years on the job, I can say with certainty that the interviewer was right. The diverse and challenging nature of my work at GIC has been incredibly fulfilling, and I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of such a dynamic organisation.
What does your typical workday look like?
My workday typically starts with reading emails and catching up on the latest real estate news. I spend a significant portion of my day in meetings, which could be with my team to discuss potential acquisitions, underwriting, and strategy, or with local partners and asset managers to review the performance of our assets. During lunchtime, I usually grab takeout with my colleagues. It is a fantastic way to get to know them on a more personal level.
The other half of my workday is reserved for individual work, such as writing investment papers, financial modelling, and responding to emails.
Throughout the year, I typically have a few domestic business trips, which involve meeting with local partners, managers, and other stakeholders to discuss deals and performance of our existing assets. I also conduct site visits to assets that we are considering for investment or ownership.
What do you like most about working here?
At GIC, we have the privilege of working on large and interesting deals, which is quite rare for junior staff in the industry. One such deal that I had the opportunity to work on was the divestment of Chifley Tower, a premium grade office asset that we owned 100% in Sydney, Australia. I had previously asset managed Chifley when I first started at GIC, so I had an intimate understanding of the property.
In addition to working on transaction documents and negotiations, we also had to consider the softer aspects of managing relationships with our larger tenants and property management team as the property changed ownership. It was an excellent learning experience that allowed me to develop a more comprehensive approach to asset management.
As with any other real estate transaction, we had to work closely with other departments, including preparing data room materials for potential buyers, negotiating transaction documents, and publishing press releases. Given the size of the asset, the deal team also had to seek approval for the divestment from Real Estate’s Investment Committee and the Group Executive Committee. While it was a daunting task that required balancing many stakeholder relationships, we were all guided by the objective of maximising value for GIC.
How would you describe the learning & development culture at GIC?
The fundamental skills required to be a private market investor that I have learnt, such as reading and negotiating contracts, deal structuring, and financial modelling, are valuable skills that can benefit anyone. I have been fortunate to have approachable managers who are always willing to teach and provide advice whenever I need it.
What you should know before joining GIC
Working at GIC will undoubtedly push you out of your comfort zone, but you can rest assured that you will have access to the resources and support you need to succeed in your role.
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