A recurring theme of surprise as we traverse Singapore on our second day of visits is how much has been achieved by this TINY, island country in the short span of around 60 years. A former British colony, and the site of WWII internment camp, Singapore is a clean efficient and cosmopolitan city-country, which has grown from being a developing country 60 years ago to a world leader. This is something that continues to surprise and amaze us all as we visit different parts of this fabulous city!!
Mayra Santiago and Judy Ashbrook – Daiwa Capital Markets
It was casual Friday at Daiwa Capital Markets, we were warmly greeted by Stanley Parker, Executive Director/ Legal Counsel and his team from the front and back offices within the Securities group. Daiwa is a Japanese based company with offices in New York City, London, Korea, India, Philippines and Singapore. Our cohort received an overall orientation about the different products and services they provide to the southern Asian market, which includes Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. In this area, their biggest business is Equities, sales and trading and investment banking.
During our discussion, we learned about how they deal with cultural differences from both their corporates, those who issue stock and their clients, those who are seeking for investors. For example, when planning investors’ trip visits, Americans prefer having a full agenda packed with meetings and activities related to business, while Indonesians and Malaysians prefer dealing with looser agendas allowing for social time during breakfast and lunch. Additionally in the investment banking, we learned that there are differences in how buyes value their risk. For example, internal rates for an American company could be as high as 12-13%, in contrast with 5-6% in a Japanese company.
Our host ended the visit by sharing his personal journey in the international financing industry and how he integrated it to his passion for the law. Overall, our visit was very informative and an excellent way for us to understand more about finance in a global scale, the interconnectivity of economies and emerging markets.
Angela Stevens & Pablo Chavez – Resorts World Sentosa
Our last business visit in Singapore was to Sentosa Park, a massive (2 sq.mi) entertainment center located on an island directly south of the main island of Singapore. Since 1972, around Sg$420 million of private capital and another Sg$500 million of government funds have been invested to develop the island which is home to Universal Studios, Marine Life Park, Casinos, Hotels, Shops, golf courses, beaches and much more. The parks are amazingly clean and many areas covered by shade structures keeping their guests cool and dry.
It was interesting to visit a theme park in Singapore. It felt like we were in Orlando all over again, but with a more compact feel. The park has no transitional spaces between themes, so you move from area of high intensity to another area of high intensity without warning. The reason for this is that they don’t have a lot of expansion space (because they are on an island) so everything needs to be efficient. The park and other attractions areas are actually built on top of 5 underground stories of parking, which makes that park really interesting to look at from a theme park design point of view.
The Marine Life Park has a huge aquarium which houses over 100,000 marine animals from across 49 habitats. These include manta rays, huge groupers, hammerhead sharks and many other species of fish, sharks and rays. As we continued past the aquarium piece we walked down to some other smaller aquariums housing many other exotic fish species, including the eel exhibit. Just before exiting the aquarium we were surrounded by many shark species, including bonnet heads, silvertips and sandbar sharks.
Marine Life Park is not just an aquarium with amazing sea life. They also have some incredible experiences, such as Ray Bay where you wade through sting rays and a shark tank emersion experience. We were able to get a tour of the marine facilities they have in place, and coming from that field, I though it was extremely advanced and extremely efficient. The aquarium is the largest single viewing window aquarium in the world, and its definitely a site to remember.
The Marine Life Park is home to 24 Asia Pacific Dolphins. Dolphins and other marine mammals are air breathing and during the recent air pollution scare from the Indonesian fires, these animals needed some special care, especially with their exhibits being exclusively outdoors. The animal care team worked very quickly to build enclosures around some of their pools eliminating approximately 40% of the pollution. The Marine Mammal team at Marine Life Park have some great ideas and opportunities available in their future and I will be excited to see them come to life and perhaps return to experience them some day.
We leave Singapore with plans to be back at some point. I enjoyed the structure, order and functionality of this very advanced country. It’s really incredible to know that you can basically cover the entire country in a day just by using their train system, which is extremely well developed. When I was walking around Singapore, I couldn’t help but to feel that this country will continue to move forward at the impressive rates they have in the past 60 years, and it is amazing to know how much they have accomplished in just 60 years, so we’ll see how far Singapore can get in the next 25 years!