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Amazing race of life

When faced with a roadblock, some people try to wing it, too many whine, while others — like Mr Nigel Poh, 26 — choose to learn how to win in life.

Blame television. An ardent fan of The Amazing Race, Mr Poh has seen how ambitions have crumbled under the weight of human conflict, poor choices, and life’s curveballs.

The winners are those who think ahead, play hard, and keep moving.

So inspired was he that he filmed and produced his own adventure reality show On the Road, that took place across seven European countries in 10 days.

Now an associate with GIC, Mr Poh uses the experiences gained from studying and living in two of the world’s most global cities — London and New York — to fast-track his career.

What did you study?
I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Government and Economics at the London School of Economics (LSE) in London, UK, and a Master of Arts in Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences from Columbia University in New York, the United States.

What do you do now at work?
I am an associate with GIC’s real estate team, covering the Australia and New Zealand markets. I engage in investment management and asset management functions. The real estate business requires you to be on the ground, so I travel quite frequently to both countries. It’s one of the things I like about my job.

What did you enjoy most about your university education?
The ability to study what I like from leading professors in the field. In my master’s programme, I wrote a thesis on using Bayesian analysis to predict winners of The Amazing Race, which enabled me to apply the skills I learnt in school to one of my passions.

Living overseas also taught me a lot about life outside the classroom. I’ve benefited tremendously from the diversity of opinions I was surrounded with.

How did your scholarship experience prepare you for your current job role?
It equipped me with the skills to think about issues (e.g. critical thinking, quantitative and statistical methods). Politics and economics are key components of an investment decision, so being aware of and understanding fundamental theoretical concepts have been very useful.

My internship experience, and subsequently the three rotations I did as part of the GIC Professionals Programme upon starting my career at GIC, allowed me to explore various facets of the company. This provided greater exposure to the business, enabled me to build connections, and grasp concepts that I can apply to my current role.

You have visited over 60 countries, which equates to almost a third of the world’s countries. How has travelling shaped your worldview?
Time and again, I am reminded of the goodness of humanity. I managed to hitchhike from London to Zagreb, Croatia – all via the kindness of strangers. I climbed a mountain in Morocco with the help of a group of hikers who took me in (I was alone and underprepared for the hike). More importantly, it is the diversity of opinions I was presented with – reminding me to never pass value judgments on others that easily.