A Kedger has been appointed President of the Bureau...
- CLASS OF: 2013
- POSITION: Business Transformation Project Manager
- COMPANY: GSK
- LENGTH OF TIME LIVING ABROAD: A year and a half in Singapore (after having spent five years in Geneva, Switzerland)
Hello Julie! To start off, please tell us a few words about yourself.
My name is Julie Depeyre, a former Euromed student, Class of 2013. I’m originally from Annecy and I’ve been here in Singapore for a little more than a year. Before that, I lived in Switzerland, in Geneva, and now I work in the pharmaceutical industry at GSK as a project manager on an internal restructuration project. Before that, I worked in other sectors of activity, and other companies such as the World Economic Forum and JP Morgan banks.
Would you tell us about your years at KEDGE? The programme you did and your best memory.
I took the rather classical path – after my bac I took prep classes in Annecy and then went to KEDGE’s Grande Ecole Programme in Marseille. I spent the first two years in Marseille, then left to do an exchange in China. During my two first years, I was Vice-Treasurer and consultant of the Junior Business association. It was a very rewarding and professionalising experience since companies paid us to perform different services. I met my current friends in the association. What I liked about KEDGE was the freedom to choose your courses. I took courses in project management, finance, and strategy which allowed me to focus my career goals. In addition, I was able to take Arabic as an optional course. It’s a very interesting language but difficult to write in the beginning. In short, it was great to be a student!
What were your reasons for moving to Singapore?
I came to live in Singapore for two reasons. The first one was personal. My partner had the opportunity to come and work here. The second was that I wanted to go abroad, especially to Asia, and somewhere out of the ordinary. In fact, after having lived in Switzerland for a few years, we wanted to go far away. As we had both done exchanges in China, we wanted to return to Asia. I joined my companion six months later, but while looking for jobs from a distance, I realised that it was easier to do look for one once you are on-site. In fact, finding a job in Singapore is usually done through networking, so I decided to attend several networking events and found my current job this way.
How are working and everyday life different from those in Europe?
Professionally, there are similarities, especially regarding the pace of work. Working hours are more or less the same as in traditional office jobs. Normally the working day is longer in Asia, but personally I’ve found that it depends on the projects. As regards to everyday life and culture, it's quite different. Prices are quite high here, especially for imported European products. The systems are also different. For example, health insurance is private - not a state system. In order to be able to get health insurance, a whole series of medical examinations have to be carried out in order to find out if you are eligible for private health insurance. In addition, there is no unemployment insurance here and companies have the right to dismiss an employee after 60 days of sick leave. Finally, there’s a feeling of more precariousness in Singapore, although it has a more liberal system. I’ve also noticed a difference in my personal life as to daily activities. When I lived in Geneva, I practiced more outdoor activities in the mountains and now I am adapting to doing more urban activities, in parks and shopping malls.
What advice would you give to graduates and future graduates?
First of all, I would encourage anyone who wants to come, to just do it. I suggest finding out about the country beforehand and make contacts. By the same token, whether you decide to settle here or somewhere else for a long period of time, I suggest visiting in advance. That was my mistake. I had never been to Singapore before I moved here and so my expectations were quite different from reality. For example, I imagined the city to be much greener than it is. At the same time, I had been told that it was difficult for foreigners to work here, and for me, it’s gone quite well. So, before you settle somewhere, spend some time there beforehand to get an idea of what life’s like, and take the time to make contacts from a distance.
You've been managing the Singapore branch for a few months now. What made you decide to do it and what does it involve?
During the Alumni evening organised for Manon and Emma, I really enjoyed meeting our Kedger community, but it’s a shame that we don’t hold these events on a regular basis. Also, since I don’t do as many activities as I did when I was living in Switzerland, it’s a way for me to get involved in an associative project. At the end of the day, it was the desire to create a community and get together at events that appealed to me. Currently, the network has about fifty alumni residing in Singapore and I’d like to be able to organise an alumni event every two months with the budget granted by KEDGE. It only takes a little bit of organisation, and the school helps us a lot with the communications side. At the moment I'm the only host, but I’d like there to be two of us. So, Singaporeans, don't hesitate to join me!
Interview conducted in Singapore by Clémence, Stivell, Estelle, and Adel, students of the KEDGE Alumni Travel Pro-act of Asia