Open minds and innovative spirit: Why this MNC believes in S’pore talent

This big name in speciality chemicals is opening doors for Singaporeans - fitting testimony of foreign investment’s spin-offs for locals
Open minds and innovative spirit: Why this MNC believes in S’pore talent
Published 27 Sep 2021

For most of her career, Dr Eva Loo, 39, researched and worked on regenerative medicine and cell cultures as a scientist in a local research agency.

While she enjoyed the technical nature of her work, she wanted to broaden her scope beyond the lab bench.

“As a scientist, you think about specialisation or broadening your areas of research. But often there are also other aspects of building a product, such as strategy, production and marketing,” she says.

She made the leap in 2019 when she joined Evonik, a German speciality chemical manufacturer with a presence in Singapore since the 1950s. The company has 33,000 employees worldwide, with about 800 based in Singapore.

Now the head of cell and tissue engineering in Singapore, Dr Loo is involved in the research and development of regenerative medicine products — from concept to market. One of the projects she is working on is the development of a recombinant collagen to promote healing and tissue growth.

Compared to animal-sourced collagen, this fermentation-based collagen can be produced sustainably and is suitable for vegan use.

Broadening one’s expertise, she says, is one of the benefits of working in a multinational company (MNC). “They provide the opportunity to experience different roles and to try new roles without actually having to switch companies.”

Since transitioning from a technical to middle management role in January last year, Dr Loo has seized the opportunity to develop her soft skills.

“When you are a scientist, you’re really focused on technical details because you don’t have to explain basic concepts with fellow scientists,” she says.

In her new role at Evonik, she deals with different departments such as sales and marketing and production. This has trained her to use clear and simple language to communicate her ideas. “It’s a blending of both worlds, which helps me to be more well-rounded.”

Another key benefit of working in an MNC is the international exposure, she says.

While Dr Loo leads a small team comprising mostly Singaporeans and permanent residents, she also works closely with colleagues from different countries. She believes the diversity of talent helps to “advance research efforts and broaden perspectives” — both useful in solving multidisciplinary problems.

Project manager Lim Teck Chuan, 37, who joined Dr Loo’s team two years ago, also values working with global research outfits.

Large international companies like Evonik come with deep pockets and expertise to promote innovation and research in the healthcare industry, he says.

Exposure is one of the biggest draws of working in a multinational, world-class environment. “I think Singaporeans like myself seldom get the chance to work on such large projects on an international scale unless we venture out to other countries.

“MNCs in Singapore offer that experience to locals, which opens the doors to more opportunities.”