A career at EDB touches lives in many ways. Read profiles of EDB alumni and about the lasting value of their experiences at EDB.


Former Chief Technology Officer, Hill-Rom Inc

Abel has had a varied and interesting career. Armed with a Bachelor's in Communication Studies from Nanyang Technological University, he started out in 1997 with EDB's Communications & Media division, catching the dot-com and the telecommunications boom. His nine years with EDB included a three-year assignment in Frankfurt and a gruelling stint in New Jersey's Rutgers University where he completed a Masters in Computational Biology. It culminated with Abel heading up the Medical Technology and Biotechnology groups within EDB's Biomedical Sciences Division.

EDB gives you a great mix of hard and soft skills that you would be hard pressed to develop elsewhere.

What have you gained from your time at EDB?

It’s been a very rich experience. I’ve worked with companies that were S$20 billion in size and small ones that were S$20,000 in size. I’ve had the opportunity at a young age to engage with CEOs and senior decision makers, both in Singapore and internationally. It’s a very good place to be, especially for a fresh graduate. EDB is an organization that invests generously in its people. It provides you with a toolbox that allows you to succeed in business anywhere. It teaches you soft skills such as interacting with senior people. Things like how to introduce a product, how do you get your foot in the door, how do you network, and so on. Beyond the soft skills, EDB also trains you in the hard skills – financial analysis, tax planning, portfolio management, etc. EDB gives you a great mix of hard and soft skills that you would be hard pressed to develop elsewhere.

And how has it impacted your personal life?

It’s done a lot for me on a personal development level too. One of the key things about EDB is the international and senior level exposure it offers you. I’ve formed a lot of strong bonds with my contacts over the years, contacts who have become good friends. It’s also done a lot for my family. When I was posted to Germany, my wife spoke no German. EDB paid for her language lessons. She is now more fluent than me!

How did you end up getting posted to Germany?

I had studied German in university. Still, I was surprised because EDB made the offer just 18 months after I started at the organisation. It was driven by the need at the time, which was during the Asian Financial Crisis. We doubled the size of our international operations.

What was working in Germany like?

It was a great opportunity. How often do you have a situation where two years out of school you’re meeting with CEOs of billion dollar companies? Moreover, I had moved from being responsible for a sector to a region. So besides infocomms, which was what I was doing before, I had to engage with chemical companies like Bayer, and established global names like Volkswagen. Beyond Germany, I also had the opportunity to work on a European-wide basis with companies like Alcatel.

Why did you then go on to do a Masters, and in the field of Computational Biology?

One of the fantastic things about EDB is there is strong engagement in career development. While at EDB, I always knew what my next assignment would be long before I was actually in the assignment. It says something about the quality of human resources at EDB to provide this type of career line of sight for its officers. More than a year before I was due to return from Germany, there were discussions on my next career step. One of the options presented to me was to join the new Biomedical Sciences division. To gain credibility within the industry, the then MD Dr. Beh Swan Gin and the Chairman at the time Philip Yeo suggested that I take an EDB scholarship to get the necessary domain knowledge to be successful in my future job. EDB gave me a lot of choice and flexibility in the field of study and they supported me all the way.

Why did you leave EDB?

I left for one main reason. At EDB, we do business vicariously. While at EDB, I had made recommendations to hundreds of companies about what they should do in R&D, how they should optimise their cost base, or how they could improve their P&L (profit & loss). When the right opportunity came to turn those recommendations into reality, I decided to implement those recommendations myself – instead of watching from the sidelines.