Career Paths

‘S’ is for Singtel - Rohit Chopra

Published 29 Jan 2021 by Sandra Au

Kids are so upfront in the way they see the world. In the world of Rohit’s 5-year-old daughter, Karen, has made drawings of him as anything from King Neptune, to a scuba diver perched precariously beside a submarine of questionable proportions.

“I’m guessing it’s not too far off from what most people think when I tell them I work in Singtel’s Submarine Cable Planning team,” Rohit laughs.

His 3-year-old son Roy is convinced that Rohit’s going to rip open the buttons of his crisp white office shirt, to reveal a wetsuit with an ‘S’ (for Singtel, of course) emblazoned in the front. In the style of some of Rohit’s favourite action movies, one can almost imagine him taking a flying leap and landing atop a vessel.

“I’m not actually on the ship all that much, I mainly liaise with suppliers,” he clarifies.

But first, some background context: As a leading telecommunications company, Singtel’s assets include deep undersea cable spanning across continents. In his role as Senior Manager, Rohit manages the engineering aspects of new cable investments and planning, as well as strategic sourcing to expand Singtel’s submarine cable footprint globally.

“First came 3G, then 4G and now 5G. But what goes on behind the scenes of rolling out a new network?”

“Undersea cables are essentially an equipment for network connectivity. Land fibres connect households all over Singapore, but if you want to talk to someone in London or the US, whether by office to office communication or data communications, you need undersea cables to power this connectivity.”

“It’s a very complex process involving highly critical infrastructure with few alternatives. In comparison, satellite connectivity is much slower.”

“When we start laying cables, we bring partners together in what we call a consortium of partners. Depending on the length of the cable and the territories it passes through, this could involve anything between Singapore to Europe and take up to four years to complete.” 

It’s no wonder that there’s no typical day at work for Rohit. He could be busy planning new cable routes in the morning and shooting off for back-to-back presentations to different submarine cable management committees before the day is over.  

It’s even hard to imagine that he hasn’t been doing it forever. 2019 was when Rohit plotted a new submarine cable route on his own, under the guidance of his current Director of Submarine Cable & Ventures Mr. Yue Meng Fai.

Having grown from strength to strength, Rohit was also part of the Singtel’s Emerging Young Leaders Programme in 2017, at the strong endorsement his director and Vice President of Carrier Services, OTT & Satellite,  Seng Keat​ Ooi. Consisting of a full-on five-day programme hosted by Temasek Holdings, it brought together a wider talent pool of young leaders across Temasek-affiliated companies from different industries.

“Attending the Emerging Young Leaders programme was a fantastic experience that I am extremely grateful for. I still remember the feeling of having all my hard work at Singtel recognised and appreciated, and that has stuck with me until today,” he shares fondly.

Rohit was also part of the team who emerged victorious at Singtel’s Regional Leadership in Action (RLA), 2018. A rigorous, cross-entity programme modelled after a startup pitch competition, it was developed with the goal of preparing emerging potential leaders to lead and manage business operations in a multinational, digital context. He and his team got a taste of how to navigate an increasingly disruptive global landscape through interactive workshops, lectures and learning projects presided over by a panel of Singtel’s senior management team.

“I would say that strategic negotiation is the most valuable skillset that I’ve added into my learning basket in my decade-long journey with Singtel,” Rohit affirms.

During his tenure with the Global Capacity Planning team, Rohit was extensively involved in strategic negotiation with suppliers. This entailed the complete reinvention of numerous projects in India, including network optimisation projects.

“One of my most successful negotiations to date was in 2017 where we completed a data network optimisation project at zero cost to Singtel. There were many different facets, from upgrading their bandwidth, proposing and facilitating the adoption of latest technology without cost. We ended up doubling their bandwidth and reducing unit cost by almost 50%.”

But, the real test of his mettle is back home when his kids demand their weekend itinerary of at least five different activities.

“As a bachelor, I had glorious weekends trekking up mountains, cutting down trees to use as makeshift beds and seeing where the day would take me.”

 Now, he puts his family’s year-long membership at the Singapore Zoo, River Safari and Universal Studios to good use.

“Time is what you make of it,” he comments wryly, “it’s not inaccurate to say that I get my work ethic from my children.”

“People often say that time is money, but this is where I think Singtel gets it right – You have the flexibility and prerogative to balance your work with priorities like family.”

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