From the classroom to the workplace: Lee Siang Loong

How hands-on industry experience has shaped SMU students (Part 3)

By Kritika Lohumi, SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business

This is the last of our three-part series which offers in-depth insights into the types of internships done by SMU students and the invaluable skills and knowledge they accumulate during the experience. 

In the third and final post of our internship experience series, we hear from Siang Loong, a recent graduate, whose internships in the financial industry focused his career trajectory in the Financial Markets division. With internships spanning various banks and even countries, Siang Loong’s experiences truly exemplify the reason why SMU pioneered the compulsory internship policy years ago.


Lee Siang Loong, 2013 Graduate  | Bachelor of Business Management

Major: Finance

In the first half of 2012, Siang Loong took a leave of absence from school to participate in a six-month internship with Citibank. In 2013, he was given the opportunity to work with Deutsche Bank in Mumbai as a summer analyst. Lastly, he completed his final semester in SMU while concurrently working for Standard Chartered Bank.

As a Corporate FX Sales Intern at Citibank, I was given the opportunity to deal with clients on a daily basis to provide them with foreign exchange solutions.  It was also my responsibility to monitor the market for macroeconomic and firm-specific news to identify potential revenue streams.

At Deutsche Bank Mumbai, I was a Markets Summer Analyst working with the Structured Credit team on Aircraft Financing deals, while analysing the aviation industry of emerging markets as potential clients. Concurrently, I worked with the Credit Trading team to monitor the Chinese real estate bond market and recommended trade ideas based on my analysis.

The cultural aspect of working overseas promises a different experience and I was drawn by such an opportunity in Mumbai. Job requirements aside, I learnt to adapt to cultural idiosyncrasies and expectations within a different working environment. I remember the Cricket Championships being played on all the screens in the dealing room instead of the various news channels and that was quite an experience!

In my final semester, I joined Standard Chartered Bank as a Financial Markets analyst. I was tasked to build a model that would allow the team to monitor fund flows within emerging markets to understand the heterogeneity of foreign investors. Utilising my model, I was able to contribute insights regarding fund behaviours that were eventually used in research publications for clients.

How SMU prepared Siang Loong for the workplace

The SMU pedagogy places a strong emphasis on discussions during seminars, working within teams and presenting our ideas to our peers and faculty members. This form of learning has allowed me to communicate effectively with my colleagues and clients during my internships. More importantly, it has trained my mind to be agile and understand the merits of learning from the seniors on my team.

SMU has also set in place numerous channels to support the undergraduate students with their internship applications. The Dato’ Kho Hui Meng Career Centre (DKHMCC), SMU’s office of career services, has also been instrumental in my applications. Its career portal, SMU OnTrac, contains a comprehensive database of existing internship openings, along with intuitive application submission functions.

Furthermore, the school facilitated my application for a leave of absence to participate in a six months internship and supported my self-proposed internships. This flexibility allows us to take charge of our own career path and maximises internship opportunities.

Benefits of the internship

Each internship experience has allowed me to gain relevant experience comparable to the real work required of an analyst.

During my stint with Citibank, I was tasked with handling clients of the desk on a daily basis, providing solutions that contributed to part of the team’s revenue. In Mumbai, I had the chance to work on live deals with Deutsche Bank and understand the essentials of executing a successful deal. At Standard Chartered Bank, I had the opportunity to conduct analyses that were eventually published.

As I immersed myself in each of the aforementioned experiences, I was able to internalise the requirements of each role within the Financial Markets division and how they interact to facilitate businesses within the banking industry.

The best thing about my internships has been the friendships and networks that I have built. More importantly, I was able to interact and work with people from culturally diverse backgrounds—an attribute of banking that excites me. The opportunity to work overseas with Deutsche Bank would be the highlight of my internships. Working in a foreign land has highlighted the importance of being open to change and accepting of new ideas. I still keep in contact with my colleagues and recently met one of my Associates from Mumbai when she visited Singapore.

My internship experiences have reaffirmed my interest in finance and focused my attention on securing a role within the Financial Markets division. I was fortunate to receive an offer from Standard Chartered Bank as a Financial Markets analyst and have been working for the bank since graduation.

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