TL;DR – Working in a startup is not quite what you think.
Is the economy doing well? It depends on which part of the economy you are looking at.
If you are look at the offshore marine oil and gas sectors, then it’s not doing well. But if you look at the eCommerce and ICT sectors, the story is very different. Those sectors are growing quite robustly. And as they grow, they need more people with the appropriate skills and attitudes to join them.
One such company is ShopBack. ShopBack is an online shopping loyalty platform that enables users to receive cash rebates from shopping with its partner merchants. Its business model is really quite simple. First off, Shopback works with its merchant partners to get deals and discounts for shoppers, so the shoppers get better offers. On top of that, there’s also Cashback., which is really just “getting cash back”.
Shopback is now looking to expand its presence in the region and grow its user and merchant base. To drive this growth, the company is looking to hire capable people to fill multiple positions, including:
- Content Marketing Manager
- Senior Software Engineer
- Business Development (Singapore)
- Talent Acquisition (Singapore)
Some people may have an impression that startups like ShopBack only hire young people who can chiong with them. But we found out that’s not true.
We spoke to Justin Lee, Chief Product Officer at ShopBack to find out what’s it like moving from a corporate career to working in a startup and what sort of people they are looking to hire.
Prior to joining ShopBack, Justin was Assistant Vice-President at SingPost. He told us that moving to a startup from his job in SingPost was a calculated risk. He explained:
“The risks are those that most people are aware of. Pay is definitely one. Job stability is another. And for people going from a professional services career to a stable corporate career, then jumping into a startup, that’s not something everyone will understand. It may seem like you are taking more and more risk.”
He mentioned that his family did try to dissuade him. But that helped him to think harder about his decision, which helped him be more prepared to face the challenges of adapting to the different culture and work at ShopBack.
So what were the main challenges that Justin faced in making the transition?
Justin told us:
“The main challenges are getting used to a new team, a new environment, and a new set of problems to solve. There is also the speed at which you need to catch up to the problems. Because in any startup, you have to hit the ground running and start making changes.”
To successfully transition from a corporate job to a role in a startup, Justin had to apply the soft skills he had developed in his earlier roles as well as to pick up new skills on the job. Justin said:
“You need to have passion and just do it. For me, I like to figure out how things work. So I would go behind the scenes to figure out how things work. Then along the way, I developed more hard and technical skills. It’s on-the-job training.”
Beyond passion, Justin told us that ShopBack is also looking for people with grit. Justin elaborated:
“We are looking for people who are not afraid to put the extra effort to solve problems. Someone who believes that can’t is not an option, and that every problem has a solution.
There are people who, when faced with a problem, would just send an email to someone else, take a backseat, and wait for the problem to be solved. We prefer people who are more proactive and resourceful in solving problems they face.”
But what about technical skills?
Those are definitely important for people who want to take on technical roles. People looking to work in technical roles in ShopBack would have to pass their technical assessment. But Justin also encouraged people who are not looking to work in technical roles to pick up some technical skills, if they want to work in a tech startup. He explained:
“Being technically knowledgeable will soon become the “new normal” in this sector, even if you are not in a technical role. For example, we had an ex-intern who is graduating with a computer science degree – however, he does not see himself becoming a hardcore programmer. Instead, he believes his technical skills will help him become better at business development.”
Is it too late for someone in their thirties or forties to pick up technical skills?
As Justin explained, you don’t necessarily need to be an expert in the technical skills. What you need is to have a curious mind and desire to want to find out how things work.
We think that Justin’s advice is equally relevant for people looking to work in any tech startup. So, if you are looking for a career change, have a curious mind with a desire to find out how things work, and are the sort of person who goes all out to solve problems, then you should consider joining a tech startup for a rewarding career with good growth potential!
Startup Career Fair 2017
Justin shared with us that Shopback will be participating in the inaugural Startup Career Fair jointly organised by the Labour Movement and one of the NTUC U Associates, Action Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE) on 30 March 2017 (Thu.)
We understand that about 100 startups will be there recruiting for some 300 positions. Sounds to us like a good place to start finding out if a startup working environment is your cup of tea.
What is NTUC U Startup?
NTUC U Startup was initiated by the Labour Movement to support the thriving startup community in Singapore. It aims to connect startups to the wider NTUC’s network – unionised companies, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), U Associated professional guilds / professionals, managers and executives (PMEs), and network of freelancers and self-employed.
Startup Career Fair 2017
Held as part of the U Startup Day, Action Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE), an NTUC U Associate, has partnered the Labour Movement to organise the inaugural Startup Career Fair. This fair is to help jobseekers discover career opportunities with startups. Companies like Shopback, Glint, TheSmartLocal and more than 100 other Singapore-based startups will be offering some 300 work opportunities during the fair.
Day: 30 Mar 2017, Thu
Time: 4pm to 8pm
Venue: ACE Ideation Centre, Block 79 Ayer Rajah Crescent, #01-13