IN THE world's competitive markets, companies of every shape and size strive for excellence and success.

In Singapore, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have a friend in Ms Debbie Ng and her colleagues at Spring Singapore.

"Specifically, my department is in charge of developing, planning and implementing strategies and policies to build up business capabilities of SMEs in the areas of branding, intellectual property and design," explains the 26-year-old manager for business capabilities.

The business capabilities department belongs to the Enterprise Capabilities Group of Spring Singapore, which is the product development group that looks into capability development of SMEs from various aspects.

An economics graduate from the National University of Singapore, Ms Ng's current portfolio involves developing a national design strategy and programme to drive design as a strategic differentiator and enabler for Singapore-based enterprises to be more competitive.

Her team works with agencies such as IE Singapore, DesignSingapore Council and the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

"Design is integral to business strategy, and it is the key to the new competition today. We hope to see more SMEs recognising the value of design and leveraging on it to grow, differentiate and excel."

Ms Ng's day-to-day schedule reflects the multiplicity of partnerships that the project involves.

"I deal with various types of people -- from the public to private sector agencies, statutory boards and SMEs," she says.

"My week is normally packed with activities ranging from meetings and company visits, to writing papers and e-mail at the office.

"More recently, I have had several teleconference meetings with a few overseas design schools.

"These can be quite challenging, as we have to deal with time differences, having an earlier-than-normal start and morning meetings as early as 7.30am."

She adds: "Dealing with different agencies can be challenging at times, as each will have its own dynamics. You really need to understand that and work around it to meet your goals and get things done."

Among her greatest on-the-job achievements to date is the inaugural Spring Enterprise Conference that was held last year.

She recalls: "It was my first time organising a major conference for 600 participants, speakers and guests. After I pulled it off, I felt a deep sense of accomplishment that the event was successful.

"It's good to know that I have good colleagues around whenever I need a helping hand."

The programme has also given Ms Ng the opportunity to travel and explore outside the Singapore market and environment.

"I am lucky to have had the opportunity to travel overseas on design study trips. The most memorable experience was a trip to Stockholm -- we had to walk from meeting to meeting in freezing weather!" she says.

The ever-changing nature of the subject matter she deals with makes her job exciting, and to tackle it requires an energetic, resourceful personality, as well as sound strategic thinking skills.

"Design is always evolving, and the topic itself is already very interesting. You get to hear about new developments and innovations every now and then," she says.

Having a job with such far-reaching demands, tasks and results undoubtedly keeps her on her toes, but she relishes each challenge.

"I get to meet people from different walks of life, and I enjoy the process. The most interesting part is when you get to meet SME bosses," she says.

"There is always a lot to learn and anecdotes to hear. You feel a sense of satisfaction when you are able to offer some form of assistance to their business development."