By Sheridan Mahavera
You should not limit yourself to your finance degree, says Alexis Jong Kian Wei, a Senior Vice-President at insurance giant Great Eastern Life Assurance (Malaysia) Berhad. “Don’t just limit yourself to the finance department. There are other scopes within an organisation that matter as well, such as brand and communications,” says Jong.
Jong’s colleague, Lenard Cheong from human capital, believes that there are plenty of opportunities in the insurance industry as the Malaysian market, especially for life insurance, remains under-penetrated. “Overall, Great Eastern won’t be hiring less. The insurance industry is growing. We’ve had requests for new positions in, for instance, business development.”
Companies such as Great Eastern are much more diverse in terms of the services they offer their clients and this means their employees get to do more than what they learn in a classroom. A discipline is important to get your foot in the door when applying for a job but, Jong says, you have to look beyond being a member of a department that your degree pigeonholes you in. “Risk management is also booming. There is a huge need for regulatory compliance. There is operational risk, market risk,” he says.
There are still jobs in the finance sector but perhaps not the types you thought you could apply for. The key, says a partner at PwC, Pauline Ho, is to be versatile and to think of the firm’s long-term future when it comes to recruitment during an economic slowdown. “In the Malaysian context, we always look longer term. Just because things are tougher now, it does not mean we will cut down on recruitment. We still recruit, as we want to build a pipeline for the future,” she says.