HIS job as a software engineer sees him engrossed in the world of coding and programming as well as working on software design.

But Mr Varun Agarwala, 25, says that although his work is largely desk-bound, it is far from solitary or tedious.

“I work on multiple projects with colleagues from different countries and a decent chunk of my day goes into communicating and corresponding with them via the phone or e-mail,” says the National University of Singapore electrical engineering graduate.

Mr Agarwala is with Continental Automotive Singapore, a world leader in supplying automotive parts like instrument clusters, car and radio navigation systems as well as climate control systems.

Continental is headquartered in Germany with Singapore as its regional development hub for the Asia Pacific.

He is one among Continental’s research and development team of 500 in Singapore and is involved in instrumentation and displays.

Just as he had enjoyed a multinational environment when he was in university, Mr Agarwala says his present workplace has a global air as well.

“It is a very multicultural atmosphere with more than 10 countries represented in the office and many bright minds around,” he says.

Despite the seriousness of R & D work, he says: “It is not a very formal working environment. There are times when I need to take small breaks from my computer. You’ll find me having a laugh with someone or other.

“We even get together, bosses and colleagues, for movies, dinners and drinks,” he adds.

Mr Agarwala, an Indian national who is a Singapore permanent resident, says he arrived here in 2003 to pursue a degree course as he wanted to get out of India.

“Singapore seemed like a good choice and my family basically left it to me to make the decision.”

On how he landed a job at Continental, he recalls: “I got to know about this job through the NUS Career Centre. The first thing that caught my eye was that the company is in the automobile industry and I have always been fond of cars.”

In the more than two years that he has been with the company, he has been sent overseas twice.

He was in Babenhausen in Germany for six months early last year to learn about Human Machine Interface which now forms an integral part of the displays used in automotive instrument clusters.

He also went to South Korea for a Hyundai project in December.

Mr Agarwala says that other than DRIVE, the introductory course to the automotive industry, the management identifies abilities of staff and streamlines their careers towards either the technical or management side.

“Not only this, it is very easy to approach the management if any employee wants to discuss anything,” he adds. “As and when required, the company also sponsors external training in both technical and soft skills.”

Mr Agarwala remembers his biggest job challenge as the day he was made the technical lead for a project.

“It was the first time that I was given such responsibility and it was different from leading a team in university projects.

“I had to balance everything as some of my team-mates were senior to me. Being the technical lead, I had to make certain decisions, taking everyone’s opinion into account.

“Also, I had to adopt different styles with different team-mates and ensure good communication.”

He says the many job challenges and his successes in handling them as well as the great rapport with colleagues and bosses make his work life enjoyable.

His advice for those interested in jobs similar to his: “The key qualities needed to do well is to have a good mixture of analytical, technical and soft skills.

“It’s also a team game and you have to work with colleagues from various backgrounds and culture. So it’s necessary to adapt accordingly and communicate effectively,” he says.