Career Advice Series: Loh Niap Juan Of IMC group

We speak with the Group Chief Corporate Officer of the IMC group to get his career and work tips.

By Sean Tan        20 July 2021

Starting on a new career, whether you are a newbie who just graduated and are now just embarking on a new job, or as a middle management staff who’s thinking of changing career midways, always come with a fair set of challenges and issues. In this career series, we speak with experts in various fields to get their tips on how to ease into a new job, what you should do to excel and how to further your career prospects.

In this second interview, we speak to Loh Niap Juan, the Group Chief Corporate Officer of the IMC group for his views on career tips. At IMC Group, Niap Juan is responsible for developing, steering and ensuring IMC Group’s corporate strategy. He brings with him more than 20 years of experience as a finance professional who has helmed many teams in various functions in the past. Niap Juan is also a qualified Chartered Accountant with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW).

1. Share with us what do you do in your work?

As the Group Chief Corporate Officer of the IMC group, I manage the organisation including the finance strategy, investments, people as well as governance functions in the group.

2. What are the things to know when a jobseeker starts out on a new career?

As a job seeker, the things you would like to find out starts with yourself. It’s good for you to establish where, what and how you want to achieve in, plus where you see yourself in a couple of years’ time. Combine this with the knowledge of whether the company you are thinking of joining can they provide a platform for you to achieve your goals and objectives, while helping you develop your capabilities for the future. Through knowing this, only then would you be able to have a much more fulfilling career.

3. What do hiring managers look for in candidate selection?

Hiring managers look for a combination of various items. One aspect they look at is your aptitude, which of course includes not just your key functional skills and your capabilities but most importantly the potential for the company to develop you further to move into higher roles. Secondly, they look at your attitude as well – attitude to learning new things, attitude to understanding the environment and being adaptable to it. Looking at the attitude with respect of fitting in within a company’s environment and yet pushing the boundaries to allow them to grow with you.

4. How can a new staff excel in the first 100 days of their new role?

For a new staff to excel in the first 100 days, the key would be openness – openness to learn, to listen to feedback, to share ideas and most importantly the openness to collaborate. By doing so and keeping that open attitude would be critical in terms of allowing your colleagues and bosses to see how you excel in the first 100 days of work.

5. How can you make the next career move based on your strengths?

It’s important first and foremost for you to understand what are your own strengths. It doesn’t mean it’s just in terms of competency and what you can do very well, it’s also the passion which you have in you to actually take this strength much further by developing the potential for it. When considering your next career move, the combination of understanding that both your abilities as well as your passion can help you decide on your next career move and propel your career further.

6. How can you develop yourself for the next promotion?

I feel that one shouldn’t consider promotion as a straight path from the bottom to the top. In developing yourself for a promotion or for future promotions, you should consider two things. One, a lateral path, in terms of expanding your skill set and your scope and two, looking at tough assignments within the company to take on because that’s where usually the managers or the management would be able to assess you much better. So, my career advice would be to look at lateral moves to expand yourself and also take on tough assignments.

7. How can leaders and managers become better coaches?

To be a better coach, from a leadership management standpoint, I truly believe that one needs to listen first. It is not a cookie cutter approach. Sometimes when you offer career advice, this comes from your own experience and applying that experience to everyone may not be suitable because everybody has different fundamental strengths and weaknesses. So, for the coach to provide a much more effective advice, one has to listen first, and that helps you know a particular individual well in order to curate and tailor the advice to him or her.

8. How has job search changed in the new normal and what can job seekers do to enhance their chances of landing a job?

Definitely in the last 12 to 18 months during the Covid-19 pandemic there have been drastic changes. Everything’s going online now and hence factors like how you conduct yourself through a video interview have become more important. But having said that, when looking for a job, the fundamentals still remain. Firstly, you still have to prepare yourself, understand your strengths and weaknesses, take an interest in and understanding what the company you are interviewing for are actually looking out for. I also think that reference checks by the company is of importance. As a result, it is critical for you as a job seeker to expand your network, and maintain your reputation in the network because while a good reputation may not secure you a job, a bad one will definitely prevent you from getting a job.

9. How to handle stress in the new normal?

To handle stress in this new normal, one of the many things that you can do is to take a breather – practise meditation, do the things that you enjoy, whether it’s sports, yoga or so on and so forth. The key to combating stress is to firstly understand where the stress is actually coming from and look at this stress from a much larger context. It’s sometimes good to divorce yourself from the current situation that’s actually causing the stress and look at things from a much bigger picture, and then I think that would actually help relieve some of the stress you’ve been facing.

This Career Advice Series and its accompanying interview videos is brought to you by SAFRA with the support of people analytics expert IDENTI3. Visit www.Identi3profiling.com for more information.

Watch out for our next Career Advice Series featuring more expert advice!