Mr Soh Leng Leng, 46, works for Cummins Inc, an American manufacturer of power generation equipment, power systems and diesel engines.

As the director of South-east Asia at Cummins Filtration International Corp, one of four business units of Cummins in Singapore, he oversees the firm's business growth in South-east Asia and South Asia.

"I develop business plans and manage our distribution network so that it matches with the company's overall growth plans for its products. I also manage human and capital resources, and motivate and retain talent to achieve our business objectives," he says.

Mr Soh was 28 when he started as a service engineer at Cummins, after obtaining a Diploma in Mechanical Engineering (1984) from Ngee Ann Polytechnic and a Diploma in Management Studies (1990) from Singapore Institute of Management.

He was constantly given new challenges ranging from after-sales servicing to dealing with sales distributors.

Accumulating experience as a regional service manager and a regional sales manager a post he later renamed as business manager he rose to his current position in 2006.

Today, 15 staff members, mostly business managers in nations such as Thailand and Indonesia, report to him while he reports to a supervisor based in Australia.

He travels about once a month in South-east Asia, China and Hong Kong, where he meets the senior management staff such as the general managers, managing directors, division managers and distributors to review the business and discuss future plans.

Trained to succeed

Mr Soh credits his rise up the ranks from service engineer to management to the company's on-the-job training.

Cummins sponsored 70 per cent of his Bachelor of Business in Business Administration from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in 1992.

"I didn't have to pay back and there was no bond," he says.

In 2002, he himself paid to pursue an Executive Master of Business Administration in Southern Illinois University in the US.

"Having seen the benefit of an MBA programme in relation to our business, I now sponsor two of my staff for the programme with the help of my company's sponsorship," he says.

"After working for a while as an engineer, you will become a supervisor and interact with clients in sales. If you know you are interested in management, you just need to work hard and the company will help you get the necessary qualifications."

Global opportunities

Cummins' continuous expansion in different market segments such as mining, marine and power generation means there are plenty of opportunities to work in different countries and deal with changing technology and legislature, says Mr Soh.

His best memories are of China.

"China is very vast and therefore has tremendous potential and demand for our business.

"It has numerous provinces, which makes it very diverse and I enjoy experiencing its diverse cultures," he says.

Besides having the opportunity to travel for work, he enjoys flexible working hours.

"I have flexible start and end times and work location. What counts is that the job gets done and that I remain contactable through mobile and e-mail," he says.

He works about 10 hours a day in a five-day work week and this enables him to spend time with his 14-year-old son and seven-year-old daughter.

He says: "It's important to work for a management that provides equal opportunity and a supervisor who acknowledges and supports your work.

"If the company has a global network and quality products, you'll always able to find challenging things to do."

For those interested in becoming engineers, he adds: "A good engineer should be analytical, hardworking, disciplined and purposeful.

"He must be hands-on and willing to go into the field to get the work done. He also needs to understand the needs of the customer and not just use his theoretical knowledge to help them."