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Offering the right things at the right time, right place
ATTRACTING top international talent is a clear competitive advantage in today's economy. This is particularly important for the technology industry, where only a small percentage of people are capable of making significant breakthroughs.
Someone creates a new technology, and their company will make money if their employee creates it first. Those uniquely talented people may be rare in the world, but are of tremendous importance to tech companies that depend on them. That is why tech leaders such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, and Apple are so focused on recruiting talented professionals from all over the world.
Retaining such talent is equally, if not, more important. Singapore, which has a highly developed economy with robust financials, as well as strong infrastructure and technological advancements, has been successful in retaining talent from around the world. Indeed, beyond the hardware, this multi-lingual, multi-ethnic tiny island state, which has a highly skilled cosmopolitan workforce has, in my view, been able to retain talent because of the following reasons, including being:
- Secure and safe;
- Politically stable and neutral;
- A centre of excellence in education and research;
- Efficient and well-organised; and
- Easy to assimilate with a good quality of living
SECURE & SAFE
Singapore is increasingly growing its reputation as a trustworthy contributor in peace and stability in the international arena. The holding of one of the biggest geopolitical meetings of our time - the Trump-Kim Summit on June 12 - is a case in point.
According to reports, it was the US that first approached Singapore to play host, followed by North Korea. The top requisite of both countries was "security". As many say tongue-in-cheek, Singapore is the most conventional place for the two most unconventional leaders.
And why not? Singapore is no stranger to hosting such bi-geographic summits. In 1993, Singapore played host to the first public meeting between China and Taiwan since the end of its civil war in 1949. In 2015, Singapore again played host to China-Taiwan talks in the historic meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and then Taiwanese President Ma Yingjeou.
While the intricacies of the two earlier summits were different, what is clear is that regardless of the complexity of issues or the core personalities involved, the decision by different administrations to meet here attests to Singapore's international standing as a secure and safe country. Being "secure and safe" is an extremely powerful country brand. No other country would have been able to pull together the elements needed to host such a big event at such short notice.
POLITICALLY STABLE & NEUTRAL
The choice to hold this highly watched summit here also shows the trust and confidence in Singapore as a politically stable and neutral host.
Most tech companies are global businesses and need to operate with proof of neutrality. It could be that they are developing technology that requires the utmost security, privacy and authenticity, hence being based in a neutral country opens doors to more markets for them.
In Singapore, tech firms are totally at home in operating from a politically stable and neutral base. In fact, being housed in Singapore is advantageous when competing in the global economy, as Singapore does not have an aggressive foreign policy. Regardless of the political developments in other countries, Singapore remains neutral. No unilateral actions are taken, and this allows companies here to conduct businesses uninterrupted with various countries around the world.
EDUCATION & RESEARCH
Singapore is quickly becoming known as one of the world's centres of scientific education. The government's investment in science has created universities with standards that rival those from across the globe: Nanyang Technological University (NTU) ranks 11th among the best in the world, according to the QS rating, while the National University of Singapore (NUS) ranks 15th. Singapore Management University will be able to enter this rating system in the near future. Many well-known foreign universities have also opened campuses in Singapore, reaching a huge number of students from all over Asia and attracting thousands of scientists.
These universities produce talented, highly motivated graduates who want more than their traditional choices of work. Rather than working a regular 9 to 5 job, they want to be challenged. They are looking to engage in interesting work, participate in breakthroughs, and contribute to extraordinary projects - and they will frequently take a lower salary in exchange for the opportunity.
Singapore's commitment to encouraging learning and discovery also ensures that the country has an informed workforce with a global perspective.
EFFICIENT & WELL-ORGANISED
Being able to provide an international company with talented and knowledgeable employees becomes an even greater benefit when the government provides a streamlined, efficient and well-organised environment in which businesses and workers can operate.
Singapore is extremely well organised, which can be one of the strongest points for employers since it can directly impact employee productivity. Employees do not have to waste time commuting for example, so a motivated specialist works about 60 hours per week (typically 11 hours on weekdays and five hours on weekends). No commute means that employees are working an extra hour, improving their productivity by 10 per cent. Saving an additional 10 per cent makes a significant difference in a dynamic sport like Formula 1 - and the tech industry is just as competitive.
Singapore's efficient and reliable infrastructure also makes the city an extremely convenient place to operate. Logistical challenges directly impact business productivity - as well as affect international events. Interruptions caused by poor city services have the potential to impact even perfectly-planned interventions. That is not a problem in Singapore.
There are no long bureaucratic procedures; public and private transportation works well; there are parking spots available; airport operations are smooth; and passport control is automated. All of these things save time, which is embedded in the culture.
When a high-stakes summit like the one happening this week takes place, it is one occasion where the efficiency and the organisational strength of the Singapore system comes to the fore. All hands are on deck to ensure that everything runs like clockwork for the Trump-Kim Summit. Air, sea and land security forces, traffic and logistics teams, as well as numerous other behind-the-scenes personnel such as cyber security squads will be doing their utmost to deliver this historic summit.
Indeed, many security experts have openly admitted that while the pressure is on, given the complexity and limitation of time, they have full confidence that Singapore will be able to pull off the event.
GOOD QUALITY OF LIVING
All these cultural benefits - security, stability education, efficiency - mean that when you assemble a diverse team here, new employees will not have any difficulty assimilating in Singapore.
Socially, foreigners find it easy to adapt to Singapore. The population here is 5.6 million people, which is comprised of 3.9 million residents and 1.7 million foreigners, 82 per cent of whom work. That means one-third of the country's total workforce consists of foreigners. And while many other Asian countries have a certain priority for expats, Singapore is for everyone. It is comfortable, safe, stable and rich.
That welcoming culture and high standard of living make it easier to attract top qualified professionals. They expect good medical services, a high level of security, good restaurants, interesting cultural events, and the best schools for their children - and Singapore has them all.
The country is in the top five of the best countries in the world in terms of the level of medical services provided and the top ten for security. There is a large selection of inexpensive, but high-quality local dishes in Singapore food courts and street food cafes.
All this means that Singapore has much to offer both its residents, its businesses, and the world. As a country, it has an international focus and global understanding, with informed, educated people. It provides stability, security and neutrality that few countries can offer. Its efficiency is unmatched. And it is a welcoming culture. Whether running a business or hosting the most important diplomatic summit in decades, Singapore offers what is needed.
- The writer is founder & CEO of Acronis. He is a Russian-born Singaporean.