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ESG scholarship recipient is taking care of businesses

By August Carlos

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced most companies to either shift to or accelerate digitalisation. This was particularly significant during circuit breaker last year when many businesses, especially small food retailers, had to close down.

As the Republic gradually recovers from the economic fallout of the pandemic, the work of Enterprise Singapore (ESG) and its staff like Mr Jackie Xiao has become more crucial than ever.

The 27-year-old is a development partner in Scale-up, a division that manages the Scale-up SG programme, which helps local companies to grow rapidly. Eligible companies have demonstrated a proven track record of growth, strong leadership and ambitious goals.  

Mr Xiao currently manages approximately 20 companies under the programme, helping them to strategise and implement growth initiatives. The programme aims to groom these high-growth companies into future global champions, so that they can contribute significantly to the economy and create good jobs for Singaporeans.

He points out that being customer-centric and agile is important in coming up with solutions for their partners. “For instance, the team identified mergers and acquisitions (M&A) deal sourcing and lack of access to growth capital as key pain points among Scale-up companies. So we came up with the idea of a M&A peer learning community and a deal sourcing pilot initiative, in partnership with a boutique M&A adviser, to address these gaps,” he says.

Mr Xiao credits the influence of his parents, who ran a small food and beverage business when he was growing up, for his passion in business and entrepreneurship: “I started helping out in the kitchen during my early teenage years. I was inspired by their hard work in starting the business from scratch and their persistence in growing the business, amid the competitive industry and hiring challenges.”


Overseas adventure

Mr Xiao, who is an ESG Global Executive Scholarship holder, says: “I found ESG’s work interesting because it gives young officers the opportunity to engage and support the management teams of Singapore companies on their growth journeys.” 

Mr Xiao graduated in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree and double major in electrical and computer engineering, and economics with finance concentration. 

His ESG scholarship, which supported his studies at Duke University in North Carolina in the United States, fully covered his tuition and other compulsory fees, maintenance, travel and pre-studies allowances, as well as sponsorship for foreign language and exchange programmes. 

Mr Xiao has fond memories of his undergraduate life, such as being part of Duke Community Consulting, a pro bono consulting programme that helps start-ups and small businesses. 

He says the interactions he had with these entrepreneurs helped prepare him for his role managing the Scale-up SG programme at ESG today. One of the lessons that Mr Xiao learnt from Duke’s consulting programme was the importance of maintaining good communication with companies and obtaining their feedback. This is so that he could improve the programme to drive value based on the companies’ needs.

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