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Singtel grooming new talent through mentorship programmes

A mentor from Singtel's cybersecurity unit talking to a student with hearing disability during the RISE Mentorship programme. RISE Mentorship is a 12-week programme where students with disabilities from universities and polytechnics are matched with business managers from local companies or MNCs.

AS part of its efforts to promote a more inclusive workplace, Singtel has participated in SG Enable's RISE Mentorship programme on three occasions, mentoring 10 students with disabilities in total.

RISE Mentorship is a 12-week programme where students with disabilities from universities and polytechnics are matched with business managers from local companies or multinational corporations. Singtel has so far fielded 10 middle and top management members as mentors for the programme over the three runs. They come from from various business units, including HR, finance and IT.

Students will interact with their respective mentors at sessions that stretch across 12 weeks. Some of the activities that take place during mentoring sessions include mock job interviews, networking sessions and honing resume writing skills. Since 2014, Singtel has also separately taken in six students with disabilities for internships in the organisation.

"We foster awareness and empathy among our employees by having them guide the participants as mentors. We hope that through the interaction, they will appreciate that persons with disabilities can be equally productive and contribute to the company," said Andrew Buay, vice-president, group sustainability, Singtel.

Through these programmes, Singtel hired SME graduate Alister Ong, who has cerebral palsy, as a sustainability group associate last year. More recently, the telco hired a Nanyang Technological University graduate who has autism in its finance department. It has also supported the training and hiring of persons with disabilities to work in call centre operations.

To help these employees integrate, Singtel has had to make some modifications to its offices, such as installing automatic doors with RFID readers to make it easier for them to use staff access cards, especially for wheelchair users.

"I am thankful to have supportive bosses and colleagues who are very understanding and helpful. The changes to the workplace accessibility has also been very beneficial by allowing me to work better. I am looking forward to playing a greater role in seeing a culture of inclusiveness increasing in more corporations as we build this network of knowledge and expertise," said Mr Ong.

Singtel played a key role in the development of SG Enable's RISE programme. The telco had introduced SG Enable to a similar mentoring programme in Australia that its subsidiary Optus had participated in.

Singtel linked SG Enable to the programme's organiser, Australian Network on Disability, and through the collaboration SG Enable was able to quickly deploy the RISE Mentorship programme. Singtel also offered its videoconferencing facility at their offices in Singapore and Australia to both parties for follow-up meetings. "Rather than reinventing the wheel, the RISE Mentorship programme was adapted and modified from the Australian version which was launched in early 2017," said Mr Buay.

"We value diversity in our company and we recognise each person brings unique skills to the workplace. By supporting this programme, we want to help persons with disabilities by empowering them so that they realise their potential," he added.

Singtel's collaboration with SG Enable started in 2014 when the company invested in the setting up of the Singtel Enabling Innovation Centre at the Enabling Village which supports the training of persons with disabilities in IT and contact centre skills, and their transition to work.

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