From the classroom to the workplace: Ivan Chang

How hands-on industry experience has shaped SMU students (Part 2)

By Kritika Lohumi, SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business

In this second instalment of a three-part series highlighting the importance of internships and how SMU prepares its students for the working world, we cast the spotlight on Ivan Chang.

Two weeks ago, Jamie Tan—a Marketing & Strategic Management major at the Lee Kong Chian School of Business—shared with us her internship experiences from her time at NACLI. This week, Ivan Chang shares his extraordinary internship experiences in both the highly sought-after world of finance and the non-profit sector.

ivan chang

Ivan Chang, Year 4 

Double Degree in Business Management and Information Systems

Ivan took a leave of absence to do a six-month internship at HSBC Private Banking in his third year at SMU. Subsequently, he was approached by the President’s Challenge to be the lead organiser of the President’s Challenge Volunteer Drive.

I was very fortunate to have gotten the opportunity to intern at HSBC Private Bank. At that point in time, I think I was one of the first few SMU students to have landed an internship there. During my period of service, I was shadowing a Compliance Officer and it was an especially busy period because MAS had just introduced a regulation placing restrictions on the types of clients banks could service. The Compliance Officer’s job is to ensure that the bank is operating in line with regulations set by MAS, so this involves screening clients’  backgrounds in order to ensure their legitimacy.

My stint at the President’s Challenge was vastly different from my HSBC internship. The President’s Challenge is a three-part event composed of the TV event, President’s Challenge Social Enterprise Award, and the President’s Challenge Volunteer Drive. As the lead organiser of the volunteer drive, I was managing 8,000 people, and our aim was to engage 150 non-profits, and 7,000 volunteers. At the end of it, we managed to get 200 organisations to participate and 7,997 volunteers so we exceeded our targets quite significantly which was a huge achievement considering we were trying to encourage volunteerism.

How SMU prepared Ivan for the workplace

Usually the client gives the bank a balance sheet to analyse, so when looking through a client profile there are a lot of irregularities you should be able to spot. I found that the modules I took at SMU like Financial Accounting, Finance, and Corporate Reporting were especially helpful in imbuing me with the knowledge and skills to perform this function well.

The Finishing Touch (FT) programme, which teaches us things like dressing, etiquette, and networking skills, was of immense help to me too. I am quite extroverted and used to getting my own way, so I can come off as pretty overbearing. My FT instructor remarked that I was too pushy, like a used car salesman, and gave me great advice on how to manage my personality. His guidance really helped me to regulate my personality and adapt it to the workplace so that I would work better with people and make a good impression on colleagues and superiors.

Benefits of the internship

Towards the end of my internship at HSBC, I was tasked with conducting precautionary checks on HSBC traders because the LIBOR scandal had just come to light. I had to ensure that no Singapore-based traders were involved in insider trading and conducting these checks really opened my eyes to the interconnectedness of the finance industry. Although I ended up dropping my Finance major because it was not my calling, the most valuable take-away from my internship was the network I was able to form. I met some amazing people and forged close connections with my colleagues. To this day we run marathons together; in fact, we just went for the Safari Zoo Run 2014. Similarly for my President’s Challenge internship, I engaged with a lot of high-level stakeholders, which was great for extending my network of contacts.