Career Paths, Advice

The Skill Hacker - Zhongcheng Hong

Published 06 Jan 2021 by Sandra Au

You’d have trouble getting Zhongcheng to just keep still for one weekend. The Product Manager in Singtel’s SD Networks & IP Services department is hard pressed to always keep his hands busy.

“The beauty of knowledge in the age of the Internet is that it is no longer tied to a specific network or institution. There’s a wealth of free learning materials online, like on Youtube. All you really need is the discipline to commit yourself to upgrading,” he shares.

Since Zhongcheng joined Singtel as a fresh graduate 9 years ago, it is this same ethic that has seen him growing from strength to strength.

Elaborating on his journey with Singtel, Zhongcheng says “what initially attracted me to Singtel and continued to keep me here all these years is the richness and diversity of its people, talents, cultures. There are lots of amazing opportunities for both internal job rotations as well as international business exposure.”

After all, how many people can profess to having seen all four seasons of Germany because of work? The stint which involved Zhongcheng making nine trips over the duration of 1.5 years was his most high-profile foray into an international stage. He was part of a small team that successfully closed out tender negotiations with one of the largest chemical manufacturers in the world.  

Zhongcheng recalls how the term ‘cross-cultural engagement’ truly came into play when it meant speaking in front of a workshop with an ever-so-slightly stoic German audience.  

 “It was an eye-opening experience for me,” he reminisces, “being in my early 30s, it meant a lot to have the vote of confidence from my boss and leaders at Singtel to make key decisions on behalf of the company.”  

Looking back at how he started his career as young, fresh-faced graduate thrust into the thick of organising and managing the region’s then largest business innovation forums Singtel i.Luminate, Zhongcheng is immensely thankful for the opportunities he gets to participate in cross-functional projects to widen his exposure, and to eventually take on more responsibilities as Team Lead to hone his people management skills.

One of his most memorable moments at Singtel thus far was when he received the Group Enterprise CEO Excellence Award under the individual category for FY18/19. Having been nominated by his boss and eventually selected by the committee, it gave him immense satisfaction to be recognised for his hard work.

He has also picked up his fair share of skills and knowledge along the way. Interestingly, he cites the art of negotiation as the most valuable skillset he has acquired throughout the years.

As Zhongcheng explains, “my line of work requires customer engagement and collaboration with multiple stakeholders. To do that effectively, I need to understand a multiplicity of perspectives in order to forge common ground and obtain buy-in from both stakeholders and customers. This has helped me become more empathetic and a better listener: to understand the situation before passing judgement.”

That being said, you could probably sidetrack him with the promise of durians. There might have been an eyebrow raised and some spiel about ‘foods with heaty properties are bad for you’ when he revealed that he has durian once a week. Every week.

“My main concern is cost – I can’t be eating Musang King all the time!” he jokes.

But the real currency that Zhongcheng values is time.

“I take inspiration from a movie called ‘In Time’, where people are genetically engineered to stop ageing at 25. They use their remaining time as currency and each person has a clock on their arm to count down the amount of time they have left.”

“Time is a currency you can only spend once; you can’t get more of it,” he ruminates.

With work rapidly becoming more automated, Zhongcheng’s been busy taking advantage of digital learning platform #CURIOUS, provided by Singtel.  

“It’s important to invest time in yourself above all, and to find a place that supports you in growing and improving yourself.

Want to know more about working at Singtel? Find out why Singtel is the Employer of Choice* and explore our opportunities here.

*Awarded by HR Fest Awards 2020, which recognises and celebrates outstanding achievements of the region’s top leaders, teams and organisations.

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