Shanghai-based Keith Su, 28, a project executive in CapitaLand’s graduate development programme, is currently working on a project to build the second Raffles City shopping centre.
This assignment is part of a job rotation that will see him undergo a number of job functions in various locales within the first one to two years. Not only will this equip him with more in-depth knowledge and first-hand knowledge of how the business is run, the experience will enable him to better assess his own interests and strengths.
Mr Su is relishing the exposure that his job and assignment brings. “I love the tangibility of my job. Being in the real estate industry means that I see the end product of my work being constructed on empty land – this is every Lego-building boy’s dream come true,” he says.
“Working on a large scale mixed-development project that is a challenge to plan and construct, and immersing myself in a different culture is all part of the fun,” he adds.
CapitaLand, one of Asia’s largest real estate companies, is headquartered and listed in Singapore. The multi-sector company has operations spanning 110 cities in over 20 countries, largely in Asia Pacific and Europe.
Mr Su, who has been with CapitaLand for a year, describes his working environment as cohesive. The nature of the industry requires a wide range of expertise, so everyone has a part to play by bringing his strengths to the table, he says.
Other than frequent meetings with the rest of his team, as well as consultants and contractors, he also needs to be on site to monitor the construction progress.
Communication skills are important as he is constantly liaising with consultants and contractors as part of the coordinated implementation of construction or renovation works.
“Planning and executing a project involves interacting and working with many parties. Coordinating the collective effort and motivating everyone to work towards a common goal is most challenging,” says Mr Su.
He graduated from the University of California Berkeley with a Bachelor of Science in Computer and Electrical Engineering in 2009 and a Master of Science in Embedded Systems from the University of Birmingham in 2010.
The values and culture of CapitaLand, as well as his own interest in architecture, were the driving factors that drew him to the company. He knew he had to get out of his comfort zone and eased into his role by learning on the job and taking on challenges with a positive mindset.
“Challenges and exposure serve to enhance my learning curve. I need to be proactive and have an inquiring mind. At CapitaLand, there are many mentors to consult with. This helps to accelerate the learning process, which would otherwise take a longer time to achieve. Learning is a key motivator which keeps me going,” he adds.
Regardless of how challenging the problem may seem at first, Mr Su perseveres, confident that it can be resolved by the end of the day. He regards mistakes as learning opportunities.
To those considering a career in the building industry, his advice is to find out more about the job.
He says: “There is no better way than doing an internship if you are still in school, or talking to people who are already working in the industry.”
“The building industry is adopting a new information-rich design and construction approach known as BIM (Building Information Modelling). Those with training or experience in the management of the BIM process will find new opportunities.”
A passion for learning, a positive attitude and the ability to exercise flexibility to solve practical problems will go a long way in the real estate industry, he adds.