Sometimes we have too much content for the Singapore American newspaper or news so good that we can't wait to publish it in the paper! And that's just the kind of stuff you can find in this section. Happy reading

In Conversation With Freelancer, Sara Watson by Katie Baines
Up close and personal with Mary Barrett by Katie Baines

Happy Mondays With Sandra Quelle by Katie Baines
Thoughts of Thanksgiving by Alka Chadiramani
Ten Reasons I Love Doing Business in Singapore by Chris J. Reed
Planning for Life

Up close and personal with Kate Marsden, Brand Evangelist and Raconteur
USS John S. McCain: How Can I Help?

Up Close and Personal with Katie Baines, CRCE Member since March 2017
ReAct-ing to Those in Need by Dan Gedal
What does it mean to be a Mortgage Broker in Singapore? By Digital Senior 
In conversation with Jenifer Raver
Everyone a Leader by Alka Chandiramani
Up Close and Personal with Amy Ho
Building Bridges by Alka Chandiramani
Business Start-Up, in conversation with Raymond Thomas

Making a Place for Yourself by Arianna Carisella
Leadership with the Brain in Mind! by Alka Chandiramani
Investing for a Brighter Future by Ann Marie Regal
Financial Advice from a Buddhist Monk? by Andrew Hallam

In conversation With Dr Bidushi Bhattacharya

Top Insider LinkedIn Tips by Linda Le
Writing a Military to Civilian Resume
Looking for Great Mexican Food  by Marc Servos
50 Years Together
Lee Hsien Loong: America's Exceptionalism
How to Rent a Black & White House  by Melinda Murphy
Useful Real Estate Websites   by Marc Servos
To Hedge Fund or Not?  by Andrew Hallam
Those Who Go and Those Who Stay Behind by Anna Mimms
The Lowdown on Local Food Spots  by Lena Chong
Travel to Cook  by Lena Chong
Too Much Stuff?  by Rob Faraone
Father's Day Ideas 2015

Lee Kuan Yew
Sleeping Beauty by Nithia Devan
Just for Fun: Uber Chinese New Year Excitement
Just for Fun: Quiz Night Movie Scenes
Just for Fun: Top 10 Cool Things about Chinese New Year as an Expat by Melinda Murphy
Living in Singapore: Thaipusam Through the Eyes of an Expat by Melinda Murphy
Health & Wellness: Interview with Aimee Barnes by Laura Coulter
SAS Student Awarded Congressional Bronze Medal by Maureen Murray
World Toilet Day
by Melissa Diagan

In Conversation With Freelancer, Sara Watson
By Katie Baines

Tell us about yourself and what brought you to Singapore
My partner is an academic, so I knew the day would come when we’d have to move to wherever he found a job as a professor. We’d built our careers in parallel, his with more stability but geographic constraints, mine with more flexibility but also some variability. Neither of us anticipated that Singapore would be our destination, but when the opportunity came up we were ready to move and my freelance role made the transfer a lot easier.

How did you get yourself established as a freelancer here? 
I was lucky to connect with a few local tech industry conferences when we were planning the move. But after initial introductions were made, I worked to stay in touch with my connections across the globe. Traveling and connecting at conferences definitely helps with that. I continue to write for publications, mostly online and based in the States, but I've branched out as I build my network and expertise in the region. I’ve explored some of the co-working spaces here in Singapore as a way to network, go to events and find a community here.

What do you love most about being self-employed?
Editorial independence is really important to me. I’m the kind of person who really identifies with her work, so I value having complete ownership over the projects I take on and the publications I write for.

I love that I can evolve what my freelance portfolio looks like. I recently turned a photography hobby into a side business taking headshot portraits for academics, writers and start-ups. It exercises some visual creativity and uses a different part of my brain.

What goes on in a typical day for you?   
I often start my day with phone calls or virtual meetings with collaborators or friends in the States. I’ll scan for any urgent emails to respond to before the US heads to bed. I like to write in the mornings – that’s when I feel most fresh and energized. Afternoons are for editing, keeping up with the news and addressing the rest of my inbox. Sometimes the night ends with another Skype session.

It’s hard not to feel like I am always a day behind when keeping up with tech news. I rely on Twitter lists to stay on top of a filtered timeline of must-reads and Nuzzel to summarize articles that make the rounds in my network while I’m asleep. I also use Buffer to queue social media posts during windows of time that match up throughout the globe.

What challenges do you come up against as a freelancer?   
It can be hard to gain access to people or institutions when I’m working on my own. Singaporeans, and business people in Asia generally, tend to want to know what box to put you in before they are willing to talk to you in depth.

I don’t have an obvious mentor to look at their career path and know what comes next, so it takes a certain amount of confidence to be comfortable defining my own terms of success.

What advice would you give anyone who was considering freelancing in Singapore? 
Network! Even friends of friends are a great starting point to find new clients or peers in your field. And one client might lead to the next. It depends on your industry and area of expertise, but there are so many platforms for finding remote work often geared toward specific types of work, like design or copywriting.

Sara M. Watson is a writer, technology critic and speaker. She is an affiliate with the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University and a writer in residence at Digital Asia Hub. She tweets @smwat. 

Up Close And Personal With Mary Barrett
By Katie Baines

Describe your background and what brought you to Singapore

I came here with my husband about eight years ago, after four years of living in Sweden, when he was offered a fabulous career opportunity. One of our dreams was to live in Asia and we loved it so much we stayed. But it was around fourteen years ago when we were living in the UK that I set up my company, Butterfly Mango, to pursue my passion and my calling to help people reach their potential and achieve their goals.

Tell us about what you do now

I work in a variety of ways with individuals and with organisations, so from people who want to work with me on a personal level through to helping in the corporate world. As examples of what I do, one client enjoyed a successful career but had some health issues that were holding her back so we got her back in balance, which in turn gave her better productivity at work. I’m also working with an entrepreneur who wants to set up her own business and we’re working on her confidence to start out.

Outside of the corporate world, does your work lend itself to other types of individuals?

There are two areas that I’m passionate about, having experienced both personally: being a trailing dependant and being a new mum. As a dependant, I left behind a thriving business, became a mum and had to start again. I’ve met many others who have been in identical situations and there is no real support for them here. The working partner has support from their organization, but the trailing dependant has the most change and has a greater challenge to feel fulfilled. This can result in a loss of confidence, so I think there is a wonderful opportunity to help individuals who are experiencing this.

What is usually the greatest obstacle to overcome for the people you help?

In most cases it’s about addressing peoples’ mindsets and beliefs. We need to identify what’s holding them back and also find the powerful resource that they have to drive them forward. As humans we’re more critical of ourselves than ever, spending a lot of energy on self-sabotaging beliefs rather than thinking about what we can do and how we want our lives to be. So I work a lot on people’s self-confidence and self-belief to eliminate their fear of failure, rejection, not being good enough; those limiting beliefs that hold us back.

What do your programs offer and what will participants come away with from your programs?

I want to provide a safe platform in a peer group with like-minded people. A space to ask “what next?” Somewhere to think about that little seed they’ve had for years and never had the time or space to plant; whether it’s throwing themselves into the PTA at school, taking up a hobby, starting their own business or knowing they’re successful at work but also that they could do more.

Stage one is working on “where are you now?” and assessing what is working for you in your personal, professional, financial and social life. And what is not. Then it’s looking at “where do you want to go?” and “how would you like your health, wealth, relationships to be?” Also, we work on the mindset, clearing out negative beliefs and focusing on what you’re good at; your skills, your experience, your capabilities, your knowledge. All of this will amplify who you are and allow you to reach your goals.

Happy Mondays With Sandra Quelle
By Katie Baines

The most common examples of advice we’re given when job hunting in Singapore, particularly for those of us on a Dependant’s Pass, is to be open, be flexible, think about your transferable skills; in other words, to the cynic, compromise ourselves. To the less cynical, there is value in looking beyond the confines of what our resumes tell us of our capabilities – hunting for a carbon copy of the job you left behind before moving here, for instance, could lead to forever banging your head against a brick wall. Conversely, though, frustration could also rear its ugly head in resigning yourself to a job that is unfulfilling. However, all is not lost as there are people here who have made it their business to help people have their career cake and eat it, too.

Sandra Quelle, Chief Happiness Officer of The Happy Mondays Co, believes that identifying what we truly want out of a vocation and fine-tuning the way in which we market ourselves can open doors to a rewarding career anywhere in the world, Singapore included. Although she acknowledges that penetrating the job market as an expat in Singapore is a challenge, this may not forever be the case. Speaking of employment trends in the future, she says, “In Singapore right now we have a talent shortage and companies are saying that it’s hard to find the right kind of talent. So the market has to become more employee-centric and, in spite of what companies say, we as individuals, have the power.” And therein lies the opportunity.

“From my own experience, it basically boils down to you proving that the hassle of hiring you is lower than what you can contribute to the company. You have to demonstrate that you are the solution they have been waiting for; companies buy solutions, not knowledge”.

Originally from a small town in northern Spain, Sandra moved to Singapore in 2014 to boost an already flourishing career in the recruitment sector which she propagated at a headhunting firm in London. In spite of her initial successes in Singapore, she felt that there was something missing and discovered that getting herself to career happiness was in helping others to do the same. So The Happy Mondays Co was born.

The ethos behind her strategy program for those who come to her in a career rut is overcoming three main challenges most people experience in job hunting. “The first step is helping you to write a job description for your ‘Happy Job’, getting you acquainted with jobs, companies and industries that would lead to you enjoy ‘Happy Mondays’.

“The second step is being able to communicate your value; you know you're good, but no one else seems to, so we work on how to make your talents known in a way that will appeal to companies. Our branding process will help you to do just that by identifying your transferable skills and unique selling points and pinpointing examples to prove your expertise.

“The final step is to engage with the market and find your Happy Job. To help you close the deal, we don't rely on head-hunters, recruiters or job boards. Instead, we create the best strategy for you to successfully tap into the hidden job market to land you a job you’re happy to get up for on a Monday morning.”

Sandra continues to say that one of the main frustrations of expats job hunting in Singapore is sending off countless applications and hearing nothing back, which can be somewhat apportioned to the Ministry of Manpower’s drive to empower local people in the Singaporean job market, but is not something beyond the reach of foreign workers. 

“The advice I have is to stop, focus on what you want and be strategic about what you are applying for.” Sending out hundreds of generic resumes is one way to be ignored.

“Don’t be shy in selling yourself; we are our best ambassadors, so help the company see how your work is either going to help them make money or save money. For example, an HR specialist can show how they are going to increase engagement with employees, which can result in promotion and leadership within a company.

“Be proactive – if there are no jobs, go and create one. One woman I helped wanted to work for a certain brand and she pitched her idea to the chief marketing officer. Within 24 hours HR contacted her for an interview for a job that didn’t initially exist. If you like a company go and talk to them; the worst that can happen is they say no.”

Sandra Quelle will be running a workshop series for CRCE members wanting to find and land their “Happy Monday” from January 2018. Dates coming soon on our events calendar.

Thoughts of Thanksgiving
By Alka Chandiramani

“Setting aside time to give thanks for one's blessings, along with holding feasts to celebrate a harvest, are both practices that long predate the European settlement of North America. The first documented thanksgiving services in territory currently belonging to the United States were conducted by Spaniards and the French in the 16th century. Wisdom practices such as expressing gratitude, sharing, and giving away, are an integral part of indigenous communities since time immemorial.”1

Since the Career Resource Center for Excellence (CRCE) began in 1998, we have endeavored to incorporate the values of thanksgiving in all that we do. CRCE, along with the wider American Association of Singapore (AAS) is staffed by expats, all of whom remember the feeling of arriving in a new country, unsure of where we fit in or how we would fill our time. With this always in our minds, we design every element of service to help expatriates of all nationalities assimilate into Singapore, both personally and professionally, just as we did when we first arrived. While the environment and regulations, especially in relation to employment opportunities, might have changed tremendously over the years, our mission has not.

At this time of year, we also turn our thoughts to all those who have both helped us on our personal journeys and supported CRCE, and we are thankful for them. It has been said that we rise by lifting others and we at CRCE are grateful that we can pay forward the kindness and support we received to make a difference to others who now call Singapore their “home away from home.”

If you’re struggling to find your way in Singapore, you needn’t feel alone. There are activities that you can get involved with at AAS that will help you to feel more settled. If your career search is not going well, take a moment to see what CRCE can offer you – let us help you take the first steps towards your next career move. Whether that be giving back to the community through volunteering opportunities or making use of the advisory services we have available that can provide some clarity on your way forward.

In amongst it all, try to take a few moments during this Thanksgiving time to recall some of the aspects of life that you’re truly thankful for, especially the “Singapore flavored moments”. As Melody Beattie so eloquently puts it, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


Ten Reasons I Love Doing Business in Singapore
By Chris J. Reed, Black Marketing

Having been in Singapore for six years now, I truly believe it’s great to do business in Singapore and Asia compared to doing business in London and the UK. Here are ten reasons why:

  1. People think regionally, not locally.

One of the first things I noticed about doing business here is that people don’t just think about one country or one city. They think regionally.

  1. People think locally when it comes to creative execution.

Clients may target and operate in Asia Pacific countries. However, clients also tend to believe in country-specific and even city-specific creative execution, acknowledging every city and every country has different a customer profile.

  1. Every city in Asia is both different and fascinating.

Asia Pacific is vastly different to Europe. While culturally different, every country in Europe has similar broadband speeds, infrastructure, religion and politics. There are no military dictatorships in Europe. There are no alcohol-free countries in Europe. There are no typhoons. Practices are less corrupt. Asia, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. When doing business in each city in Asia, you have to constantly learn and embrace local cultures and customs. 

  1. People will meet you.

One of the great things I noticed about setting up meetings in Asia is that virtually every time I reach out to people on LinkedIn, they generally agree to a meeting. 

  1. Singapore is an easy place to get together.

In Singapore, I can walk to most meetings or my meetings can walk to me. People can decide to meet you tomorrow and it will take five minutes to get there. Even meetings in places like Kuala Lampur and Jakarta can take less time to reach from Singapore than it took me to cross London or use the regional or national rail stations to reach potential clients in the UK.

  1. People make decisions.

One of the things I do love about Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong and Shanghai is that my clients tend to be very open and straight-talking. If they think we’re too expensive, they tell us. Of course, there are exceptions. Sometimes Asians don’t wish to lose face and, therefore, when they realize that they can’t afford our services, they say they will think about it and will get back to us in a week, a month or a year when actually they mean never.

  1. There is an expat/foreigner/internationalist network.

Whether people like it or not, expats buy expats, foreigners buy from foreigners and locals buy from locals. This works to your advantage if you have a great network of contacts and are good at enhancing this network to grow it further.

  1. You get out what you put in.

More than anywhere in the world, I think Asia rewards hard work. The governments in any of the Asia Pacific nations do not come to your aid if you are in trouble. There is no fall back; no unemployment or disability benefit. Therefore, the emphasis is on working and providing for yourself and your family. If you do not, no one else will. This is a great motivator to work hard. The harder you work, the more you succeed.

  1. Asia rewards entrepreneurs.

I believe that Asia rewards entrepreneurs more than Europe. Certainly, it’s easier to create and set up a company in Singapore than in London. The environment is more pro-business. Anyone can be an entrepreneur in Asia. It’s also easier to reach out to potential clients here, to network and to work with other entrepreneurs. It’s just basically a more positive business environment in which to do business.

  1. Business events are plentiful.

There are more business events in Singapore than in any other place I have ever worked. This includes amazing business and marketing happenings as well as some fantastic networking events. I could literally go to an event three times a day, every day in Singapore.

Yes, I really do love doing business in Asia, but I especially love doing business in Singapore. 


Planning for Life

One of the most common questions we get asked in our initial meeting with individuals and couples is “We have life insurance, but is our cover adequate?”

There are two key elements in assessing the level of cover that is appropriate. The first is the amount of debt that you have and what your essential living expenses are. It is important to work out a household budget and look at what you and your family would need to cover if you are unable to work or, even worse, die prematurely.

Life cover is primarily about meeting capital obligations. Ideally, if finances permit, essential expenses should be met by income protection and major financial commitments by life cover.

The biggest financial obligation that anyone has is almost always a mortgage. In some countries, like Ireland, it is compulsory to take out life cover with every mortgage purchased. In Singapore, we haven’t gone that far, but it is essential that a mortgage should be totally extinguished on the death of one partner. This not only removes the need to fund a major and expensive item but provides the remaining partner with an asset that may be used to manage a different financial environment.

The other major issue is affordability. What ‘affordable’ means will vary from family to family and is dependent not only on your income level but on your priorities.

One important point is that you should buy cover at as young an age as possible, as this will mean it is much cheaper and will often obviate health concerns.

Another point to take into consideration if you took life cover out in your home country is to check the fine print. Some policies become void if you are not resident for a certain time period in the country you took out the policy. You may be paying for something that won’t actually cover you.

At AAM Advisory we offer a complete financial planning service for expatriates, Permanent Residents and Singaporeans focused around wealth creation and preservation strategies. The company has a team of fully experienced financial planners backed by a wealth of research, knowledge and expertise servicing over 4500 clients and in excess of SGD 900 million under advisement. If you would like to review your current life insurance or book a complimentary financial review please email audrey.mitchell@ or call 6653 6652.

Up Close and Personal With Kate Marsden,
Brand Evangelist and Raconteur

Tell us about yourself…

I’m originally from Brisbane and, like many Aussies, I love travel so my initial career move was to get involved in the travel industry working in business development and strategic marketing. This led me to make a move to Manchester in the UK where I met my now husband and we decided to come to Singapore on a bit of a whim. That was four years ago and we’ve since got married here and had a beautiful baby boy.

What made you decide to move to Singapore?

As saccharine and silly as it sounds, love brought me to Singapore! The UK was great, I loved living in Manchester and was really happy, but there was nothing keeping me there so when my husband got a job as a teacher in one of the international schools here I took the plunge and came with him. We’re really happy in Singapore. Although living overseas has its challenges, being a new mum has shifted my own expectations of the country, which has helped me to feel more settled.

How did you find out about AAS/CRCE?

I actually have a friend who works there! After having our baby, I started to think about getting back to work and dabbled in a few projects but wanted something that offered more structured employment. She told me about CRCE, the workshops and the career counselling where you can plan your re-entry to the job market, and I decided to sign up. Very quickly I found the role as marketing manager, or should I say Brand Evangelist and Raconteur, for Expat Insurance on the CRCE jobs board, and I love it. They’re a really fun company.

What were your experiences as a CRCE member?

I found the service really helpful. The jobs board is updated regularly so I found exactly what I was looking for almost straight away. You also know that the jobs available on the board are geared towards expats so you can be confident you’re applying for something that you’re eligible to do. I found the career counselling service got me focused on my goals and what I wanted to achieve, too. This in turn broadened my thinking in terms of the nature of the industry I would consider working for. I never thought I’d be working in the insurance sector, but the company culture is vibrant and dynamic, and a really good fit for me.

Can you share with us some information about the role you found through CRCE?

As a marketing manager, my role is very varied: I curate and manage all of the content on the website; I take care of social media; and I orchestrate campaigns. There’s an element of public relations and maintaining relationships with external stakeholders, there’s events management – it really is a job where I feel stimulated and that my career is being developed. As someone on a dependent’s pass I thought this would be difficult to achieve, but there really are opportunities out there and I feel lucky to be part of an organization that supports so many amazing women.

What advice can you share with new expatriates looking for a job in Singapore and/or anywhere else in the world?

I would say don’t necessarily expect to find an exact replica of your last job; it helps to be openminded and flexible. Have a think about your transferable skills as well, in terms of your personal skills – don’t confine yourself to the box you were in before. There are a lot of opportunities out there but you need to network and talk to people; I think the key is finding them through your contacts because they know you, they can vouch for you and they can be the most supportive for you.


USS John S. McCain: How Can I Help?

UPDATE: Many thanks to everyone who has volunteered at the USO tent at Sembawang. The Crew Support Center has now closed, as the sailors are returning to their home base in Japan.
The American Association of Singapore is deeply saddened by the collision of the USS John McCain and the merchant vessel, Alnic MC. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected. We are sure that many members of the community would like to support the sailors at this time. 

The USO has set up a Crew Support Center at the naval base in Sembawang. Although sailors will be providing support at the Center, which has been outfitted with wifi, snacks, drinks, TVs, etc., volunteers are needed to help to create a family-like environment. More than 100 sailors lost everything (clothes, laptops, cell phones, personal items, etc.) in the accident. There is a donations center at the USO site, which is providing them with supplies of shoes, clothes, etc.

Crew Support Center Hours

Mon-Fri: 2pm-1am

Sat-Sun: 10am-1am

Who to Contact to Offer Help
Renee Watkins and Sunita Riar will be coordinating volunteer efforts, so please contact them directly to offer your support. They will also be sending out updates and leading other initiatives that might develop from our current volunteer efforts.

The USO Site is located within a fenced Barracks area near the Navy Gateway Inns & Suites and is clearly visible from Durban Road. You can access Durban Road from Canada Road or Sembawang Road. For GPS – use 295 Durban Road. 

There will be a manned security booth as you enter the barracks area; it’s a white security booth. They have all of our volunteer’s names – just show an ID and let them know you are volunteering at the USO Site.

There is a small parking lot just down the hill from the Security Booth on the right-hand side.

What you will be doing
Volunteers will mostly be interacting with the sailors and keeping the environment as welcoming and friendly as possible and, of course, reacting to situations as they arise to lend support where it is required.

Being there for the sailors and promoting the USO site are our main objectives this week.

Code of Conduct
The USO has set out some guidelines, which include: no sales/soliciting, no alcohol, no tobacco, no pornography, and no personal data collection of any kind is allowed at the USO Site. The sole focus should be on keeping the USO site a welcoming environment.

Physical goods, such as toiletry items, clothing, SIM cards, etc., can be donated, however they are only able to accept items that are valued at $20 per donator (although a family of five may donate $100 value of items, each family member's name must be given, otherwise the donation cannot be accepted). The drop off point for this is the Medical Aid Station in Sembawang.

If you would like to make a monetary donation, you can do so through the USO, Navy Marine Corps Relief Society, and American Red Cross; however, these donations will go into their pot and will be distributed by them and will therefore not be guaranteed to go to the McCain sailors.

Up Close and Personal with Katie Baines, CRCE Member since March 2017 

Tell us about yourself…
My husband and I are originally from London, but moved to the south coast of England about five years ago. My first love was languages, and I studied French and Spanish at university. I followed this with a master’s degree in journalism, which spurred me on to travel and writing. Along the way, I picked up a camera and started taking photos, incorporating photography into my journalistic work. I’ve lived all over, in Argentina, Cuba, and Québec, Canada, all associated with languages.

What made you decide to move to Singapore?
We were both at juncture in our careers when we felt we would like to live overseas. My husband is a teacher and he managed to get a job teaching in Phuket for a year. We then decided that Singapore would be a nice place to live, so moved here.

How did you find out about AAS/CRCE?
When we moved to Singapore, I found that my sense of purpose was a little bit lacking. As a trailing spouse, it’s often difficult to break in because of obtaining work permits, etc., so it was quite a challenge at first to feel like I had a place here.

I met a former CRCE member at my husband’s school, who kindly talked me through the possibilities open to me here. He suggested that I volunteer at the American Association of Singapore (AAS), as my skills were a good match, especially for the Singapore American newspaper. When I arrived, the team was in a flurry of activity, working on the George Washington Ball. A photographer was needed to take pictures for the program. There were also tickets to cut up, envelopes to stuff…as I soon discovered, there’s always something going on. I am more than happy to roll up my sleeves and get on with things, as I think it’s great to get hands-on experience at all levels. That’s how I got involved.

What were your experiences as a CRCE member?
As a member, I value the potential for career development that CRCE brings. There are focused workshops, which help with resume writing. There’s also a workshop coming up about using social media effectively. This means my career development won’t stop here. I can use the workshops to further my career when I eventually repatriate.

Can you share with us some information about your current position at AAS?
While I was volunteering at AAS, an administration role became available. This is a great fit for me, as although there is the core of the administrative role, there are lots of opportunities for me to do other things, too, such as writing for the paper, taking photographs for the website, helping with events, etc.

What advice can you share with new expatriates looking for a job in Singapore and/or anywhere else in the world?
If you get an opportunity to volunteer – do it! You never know what doors it might open. For me, this was how I got my job at AAS. Second, be open-minded about what you can do. If you’re too specific, the likelihood is you won’t find an exact match. If you can find something that’s transferrable (or similar to what you’re into) and you can make something with that, then go for it.


ReAct-ing to Those in Need
by Dan Gedal

As a trailing spouse, I joined the American Association and CRCE in 2004, before even arriving in Singapore.  Once settled in, I realized that volunteering with a charitable, non-profit organization would provide me an opportunity to help those in need while also serving as a fast-track to meeting great people. One organization I eventually became very involved with is ReAct, a non-profit with a base in Singapore, but operating mostly throughout Indonesia.

In working with ReAct, I quickly realized that children could not concentrate and develop fully when the bare essentials are not even met, a common problem of many youth in Indonesia’s orphanages and childcare institutions. When the basics are barely met, it is difficult to reach the next levels of development: learning retention, confidence, and pride in oneself.

Indonesia has around 8,000 childcare institutions, housing up to 500,000 children, 85% of whom have at least one living parent who cannot care for them. This is not the children’s fault, yet they bear the brunt of these circumstances. Many of these institutions are privately owned and operated and do not necessarily come under any type of government supervision or monitoring. The task of parenting these children falls, therefore, primarily to caregivers who are often overworked, underpaid and virtually untrained. As a result, many institutionalized children in Indonesia generally receive inadequate care, preventing them from developing well emotionally and/or physically.

ReAct’s unique programs provide the essential training and mentoring to caregivers and social workers in childcare institutions and orphanages. In doing so, ReAct impacts many more children than it could otherwise help, by bolstering the care, skills and knowledge (good nutrition and first aid, for example) of the person with the most regular and constant contact with these kids. The children, in turn, exude greater confidence and are seen to be emboldened to think beyond the walls of their village or orphanage.

ReAct hosts and trains caregivers on a range of hard and soft skills required for effective child and youth care. In some of these trainings, covered topics include how to instill a growth mindset into the kids or how to properly recognize and deal with attachment and bonding disorders experienced when being separated from, or losing, their families. For those caregivers returning for additional trainings, it is encouraging to see how their confidence grows from session to session.

Some of the training sessions are followed the next day by a Career Fair targeted towards the older youth, many of whom will soon graduate from high school and be required to leave the orphanage to fend for themselves. Professionals from all walks of life share insights on their respective professions. There are also skills-building sessions covering resume preparation, how to search for a job, grooming and more.

ReAct is proud to be celebrating 14 years in operation. To support or get involved with ReAct’s initiatives in Bali and in other parts of Indonesia, visit or contact Dan Gedal at


What does it mean to be a Mortgage Consultant in Singapore? 
By Digital Senior

Mention the word ‘consultant’ and what comes to mind is usually a person in suit and tie making a presentation to a group of high level corporate executives. It turns out that consultants may not necessarily be a corporate warrior contributing to the bottom line of MNCs. There is a different types of consultant that helps the man on the street with the most important purchase of their life, property. Mortgage consultants are paid for their expertise in helping home owners secure the best home loan in town, and consequentially huge monthly savings.

Mortgage consulting is a trade that is just picking up in Singapore. On other side of the world, however, the situation is different.  Close to 70% of all residential loans in the United States are brokered through a mortgage consultant. According to a 2004 study by Wholesale Access Mortgage Research & Consulting Inc., there are a whopping 53,000 mortgage brokerage companies that employ an estimated 418,700 employees. Suffice to say, it is the norm to have one’s mortgage taken care of by an intermediary which is mortgage consultant or broker in the States.

However, mortgage consultants are not salespeople.  Instead of selling home loan products, they serve as an advisor in the process of consumers getting a home loan from a bank. Interestingly, mortgage consultants enjoy the same perks as salespeople, such as the performance -based unlimited income potential as well as flexible working hours. They can even be likened to self employed individuals without a manager.

Alan hails from the one of the biggest mortgage advisory firm in Singapore, Redbrick Mortgage Advisory, and serves as the associate director there.

Note: Mortgage consultant, mortgage advisor, mortgage broker are terms used interchangeably through the interview that means the same thing.


DS (Digital Senior): What exactly does a mortgage advisor do?

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Alan: A mortgage advisor advises a client on the loan aspects of a property purchase and/or property refinancing. We also advise clients on the latest and lowest interest rates offered by the various banks in Singapore and recommend them a bank package that is most suitable for them.

In our role, we meet up with the client, handle all the paperwork that revolves around a loan application, liaise with the banker on the client’s behalf and advise clients on issues that surface in regards to documentation or MAS property lending guidelines.

A property loan can potentially be a very complicated process and our main role is to simplify the loan process for the client.

DS: Is it an office job? What is the working life like?

Alan: It is not an office job where you are “stuck” in a desk. Majority of the time, we are outside having appointments and meeting clients.

DS: Why did you choose to be a mortgage advisor ?

Alan: I loved working in banking but over time I became disillusioned with the long working hours and a sense of personal unfulfillment from being “stuck” in an office desk.

I wanted a role where I could put my banking knowledge to use and have the freedom to dictate my working hours. Being a mortgage advisor allowed me the opportunity to experience both.


“Over time I became disillusioned with the long working hours and a sense of personal unfulfillment from being “stuck” in an office desk”


DS: What were you doing before?

Alan: I was a commercial banking relationship manager with one of Singapore's major banks. I managed a portfolio of companies that report an annual turnover of between S$20 million to S$200 million. My role was to monitor their existing bank commitments and to assist them with loan financing to grow their business.

DS: How much can you earn as a mortgage consultant ?

Alan: A performing mortgage advisor can earn a five figure monthly income.

DS: We hear stories that bankers can earn good money but break down after a while due to exhaustion. What are your working hours like ?

Alan: My working hours are flexible, meaning it is up to me to dictate how many hours I want to work. On a typical week day, I start at 9:30am and can end late at night. Most of my appointments are during my clients’ lunch hours or in the evenings when they come back from work. At times, I even work on weekends as that could be the only time when my clients are available. That said, if I needed to scale back due to family/personal commitments, I can do so.

DS: What do you like about your job ?

Alan: I enjoy the interaction and relationship building with my clients. To many of them, a property is the largest purchase/investment that they would make in their lifetime and for the majority, this loan will last for 25-30 years. To be able to advise them on all aspects of the loan makes it meaningful for them and myself.

DS: What are you passionate about ?

Alan: I am very passionate about backpacking to other countries. For me, there is nothing more fulfilling that slinging on a backpack, flying to a country, figuring the country’s history and culture, and understanding how the local people live their lives.

DS: How does your job fulfill your passion ?

Alan: In my previous jobs, even if I have the money to travel, I didn’t have the time.

Back then, if I left my work for a couple of days I would be swamped when I got back. Not to mention that when I was away, my covering buddy would have to take over my duties. So there is always that guilt when you go away for long periods of time.

As my previous jobs were sales related, my annual KPI would be affected when I chose to take leave. There was a lot of pressure from my ex-bosses not to go away for a long period of time.

DS: What are the career advancement opportunities being a mortgage advisor?

Alan: There are currently two career advancement routes that a mortgage advisor can take. One is to focus on personal sales and building up your own portfolio of clients. Once a client engages us to advise them on their property loan, we would contact them two years later to review their case. This review is to advise them if it would be beneficial for them to refinance or to stay with the same bank. If the relationship is handled well, the client will likely stick with you for as long as they have a property loan.

The other career advancement is to go into management and mentor a team of mortgage advisors. The mentoring role would be to guide them on the ropes of being a mortgage advisor, sharing knowledge on the loan credit guidelines from the different banks etc.

DS: What does it take to be an excellent mortgage advisor ?

Alan: The ability to actively listen to a client’s needs. Mortgage can be a very complicated subject and most clients who are unaware of the terms used in mortgage  may not be able to effectively communicate what they require. We therefore have to actively listen and at many times ask questions to find out what they require.

DS: How to be certified as a mortgage advisor ?

Alan: Currently there is no certificate required to be a mortgage advisor. But there are opportunities out there to be trained as a competent mortgage advisor.

DS: What is your biggest takeaway after all these years as a mortgage advisor ?

Alan: My biggest takeaway is there is always something to learn from anybody.This career provides the opportunity to meet and learn from clients who come from all walks of life. My clients range from HDB flat owners to people who owns multiple properties, and during my meetups with them, I always try to find an experience that they can share with me.

DS: What advice would you give to people considering this career ?

Alan: You have to be professional and personally committed in this career. There is a lot of responsibility when a client chooses to engage our service. For them, a property is their largest purchase/investment and any misstep on our part may cause them to make a purchase commitment without getting the appropriate loan amount they require.


In conversation with Jenifer Raver

How long have you lived in Singapore? I’ve lived in Singapore for almost 12 years. I originally hail from the US and have also lived in Japan for two years. I have two children and a close circle of friends who keep me happily busy!

What is your current role and basic responsibilities? I currently work as Director in the Dean of Faculty Office at Yale-NUS College, a four-year liberal arts and sciences college founded by Yale University and National University of Singapore. My responsibilities include faculty recruitment and appointments, creating policy, supporting faculty committee work and doing special projects for the college.

How did you hear about CRCE? I heard that CRCE was as a good resource for those making a transition in their careers from working friends. At the time that I signed up, I was looking to return to full-time work after working part-time for several years while I had my children.

Share with us your experiences as a member of AAS and CRCE? I remember attending several workshops with Alka Chandiramani and other CRCE team members. They helped me focus my job search efforts, meet new people and build confidence while looking for a job! Since that time, I’ve suggested CRCE to friends and associates.

From your job search experience, what are your top three insider tips?

  • Invest in building professional and personal relationships. These will see you through thick and thin times.
  • Do your homework on prospective companies and people that you meet so that you can truly engage others.
  • Be flexible. Consider positions (part-time, freelance and volunteer) that you might not otherwise consider to get your proverbial foot in the door.

What’s your favorite cuisine and restaurant in Singapore? Having lived here a while I have many favorite restaurants including Original Sin, LingZhi, The Clan and any Din Tai Fung branches for the kids!

Everyone a Leader

by Alka Chandiramani

As featured in the June/July 2017 edition of the Singapore American Newspaper

All of us in our own capacity form groups, either as families, organizations or teams, to lead towards collaborative action plans. In one way or the other, that makes us leaders in our own individual circumstances. Increasingly, as I learn and observe, it seems more pronounced to me that leading is not one person making sense of all the communication, but rather all members collectively working with each other in an unbiased emotional state of mind.

We are all leaders of our own life. Whether as a jobseeker, a spouse, a parent, an entrepreneur, a business owner or a team leader, our role in every aspect is that of leadership. A heightened awareness of understanding that body language, tone of voice, words and culture are all-important elements towards enhancing group dynamics is clearly understated.

Similarly, when moving to a new country, making a new transition, we have to take charge and become leaders of our own career and personal growth. No doubt, the environment can sometimes be challenging, making it difficult to find the appropriate position, however, there are tools one can utilize to enhance the job search process. It has been said, “Excellence is never an accident; it is the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and the vision to see obstacles as opportunities.” Through years of coaching and working with many people from all walks of life, I have found that in reflective moments all it takes is a paradigm shift to make things happen.

Suanna Borst has been helping many people find their path over the years at CRCE’s one-on-one career solutions. On May 26th Suzanna ran her first Resume Building Workshop where she encompasses years of her expertise to help you showcase your strengths and accomplishments; understand your transferrable skills; overcome some of the job search hurdles that you may have come across and evaluate “Real resumes” before and after. If you’ve been thinking about what next and how to get there? Don’t miss the upcoming workshops with Suzanna on job search hurdles and interviewing techniques in August and September!


Up Close and Personal with Amy Ho

Tell us about yourself…

My family and I arrived in 2010, when our children were one and three years old. My husband was working at Visa, whose international headquarters is in Singapore.

What made you decide to move to Singapore?

My husband received an expat assignment offer to work in Singapore, and I had always wanted to live/work in Asia at some point in my life. Our kids were young so it was a relatively easy time for us to move.

What were your experiences as a CRCE member?

We first heard about CRCE through The American Club. I attended several workshops during my first few years, as I was trying to figure out if I would work while in Singapore and, if so, how I would go about doing that. When I decided to pursue a more entrepreneurial path, I attended workshops again (Linked In and others). CRCE was a great resource for me.

Can you share with us some information about your current position in The Stanford University?

We moved back to the US and I recently joined the Stanford Graduate School of Business. I’m working in the MBA Program department as Associate Director, Strategy and Curricular Support. In this role, I am responsible for academic data analysis and feedback surveys to continually improve the MBA program student experience; providing academic advising to students; and working with faculty and staff on the academic curriculum. I attended Stanford as an undergraduate more than 20 years ago so it’s been so nice to be back on the campus. Also, having worked in corporate and management consulting for the first 10-15 years of my career, then taken a career break to start a family and move to Singapore, it’s been so great to have now pivoted into higher education and to be working in a student-facing role where I can feel that what I do has great impact.

What advice can you share with new expatriates looking for a job in Singapore or anywhere else in the world?

I’ve learned that life is less a trajectory path and more like chapters in a book. Moving to a new country is challenging and you do leave a lot of what’s comfortable and familiar behind, but uncertainty brings opportunity. If I hadn’t taken the career break and then extended that career break by moving to Singapore, I might have still been in my corporate career. Instead, I got to try something entrepreneurial (and learn what “hats” I do and don’t enjoy wearing); work at the Asian Civilisations Museum as a docent with Friends of the Museum (where I “found my tribe” while in Singapore); spend some time with a life coach and learn to listen to my heart and less to my head. Once I started paying attention to what truly interested me, I started finding my way towards something that truly is a good fit for me and work that makes me happy.


Building Bridges
By Alka Chandiramani

Today, more than ever before, the ability to connect with people and build successful teams in a cross-cultural environment is what will help leaders and organizations stand out among their competitors. Many of us work in companies that operate globally and have to deal with cross-cultural differences. As such, relatedness is an increasingly important component to build effective collaborations between team leaders across many cultures. A sense of relatedness essentially builds mutual trust between people. Many of us work with colleagues who come from a totally different background than we do. So as a leader, building relatedness and a sense of belonging is extremely crucial.   

This is true during personal transitions, too. We must be able to join countless dots and adapt to new realities within shorter timeframes. We continuously face uncertainty and ambiguity in one aspect or another.

Lately, there are a lot of articles out there about Volatile, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity (VUCA). VUCA, derived from military vocabulary, began in the 1990s and has been subsequently used in emerging ideas in strategic leadership that applies in a wide range of organizations and individuals. How you respond as an effective as a leader in this VUCA world must also take into consideration the global nature of business.

We often underestimate the importance of creating a sense of relatedness in dealing with cross-cultural differences. Most often, there’s a lot of focus on creating tasks and objectives without much thought given to the relatedness within a team. These days, we are confronted with cross-cultural differences across all dynamics of mergers and acquisitions. Many times the mindset of “us” versus “them” lies deep beneath the surface. When individuals do not feel a part of the team, it is hard to create that “togetherness” feeling and this can eventually have an impact on the bottom line. However, companies that manage to establish mutual trust and a sense of relatedness among teams across boundaries, despite the cultural differences, have a clear competitive advantage. Being able to manage teams successfully across nations encompasses many aspects of the human spirit. 

Business Start-Up, in conversation with Raymond Thomas

Tell us more about your background and professional experiences. I graduated with a Mechanical Engineering degree and worked for Motorola and Western Digital, but realized engineering was not what I wanted to do. I returned to graduate school and completed my MBA and joined a company in a marketing, sales and operations role, working with diverse cultures in the region. I found my calling was working with people: engaging, guiding and helping people grow to their full potential. So eight years ago, I started my own company focused on providing consulting, profiling, leadership development and coaching services to clients.

You have set up your own business in Singapore. Can you share some of the resources that you used during that process? I first acquired accreditations in Advanced Certificate in Training and Assessment (ACTA), allowing me to get in front of clients and demonstrate my capabilities as a facilitator, a stepping stone towards the corporate market. Carefully allocating and prioritizing my time and funds towards what would be the “biggest bang for the buck” was crucial in my success, recognizing the resources I had were finite. I continue to prioritize time and resources on a daily basis by reading, seeking knowledge, growing and sharing via social media, my workshops and coaching sessions.

Establishing an industry network was another important element to getting my personal brand out there. I networked in many like-minded communities, interest groups and associations. I was very involved with the Asia Professional Speakers Singapore (APSS), serving as the president (2014-15). The community connected me with individuals who were in a similar business as me, helping me learn and grow.

What are your key principles for creating success? To me, success is about happiness, not only self-happiness, but more of a collective happiness that is shared with your loved ones. I like to share happiness with others, so that they can learn, formulate, construct and grow towards their own definition of happiness. I want to be a flaming candle that can help others light their own candle and keep it glowing brightly for others.

Networking is such a personal experience, what are your key strategies in being a great networker in Singapore? Networking is about the willingness to learn from someone else and it can be done one-on-one or in a room filled with a diverse community of people. Most of my network began on LinkedIn. I write to them and introduce myself, sharing my passion for adding value to my friends and inviting them for a 15-20-minute call to get to know them better in terms of what they do. I prioritize this effort on a weekly basis.

From my network, I also inquire about other opportunities for networking with exclusive interests such as developing myself, learning to adapt new technologies or even attending seminars and talks organized by tertiary institutions in Singapore. I also network at organized events which give me a chance to mingle and meet with a community who may resonate with me.


Making a Place for Yourself
By Arianna Carisella

Prior to Singapore, I lived in Edinburgh and Nice on assignment. I am now part of the Johnson & Johnson Corporate Program with CRCE. It is a great resource for new people who move with partners to Singapore.

I have a degree in Public Relations BA, International Fashion Marketing MSc.  I was in medical device sales for Johnson & Johnson. I also write a fashion blog on personal and professional experience in styling/wardrobe revamping.

When you relocate, you have to build something from scratch. Joining groups like the AAS and CRCE to network professionally really opened doors for me. Meeting other women who have also relocated with partners or husbands and grown personally and professionally has been highly motivational. Creating and building something of my own (my blog and personal network) really helped build my self-confidence as a capable woman in a new country. Creating personal networks that directed me to the right stores, restaurants, airlines and more helped us feel like Singapore truly is our home away home!

Moving overseas can be difficult because you feel alone and far from home. To help with that, I make friends who become like family and make a point to schedule time with them at least once a week.

I’ve also felt envious of my partner’s professional achievements while I’m searching for my own job in Singapore. To help with that, I set long and short term personal growth goals such as cleaning out my closet and selling items. I also learned things I’ve always wanted to learn such as becoming a better cook and yogi. I made “giving back” a goal which has helped me feel accomplished and fulfilled.

I also put my energy towards making Singapore feel like home, not just for me, but for my partner, too. Moving abroad can be hard on couples, but if you can find a way to feel as though you’re providing support for your partner, you’ll also feel more accomplished.

The best advice is to put yourself out there. Join groups. Add people on LinkedIn. Ask other professionals out to coffee. Try it all until you find the right path for you. Remember CRCE has people of many nationalities, not just Americans. 

Singaporeans are more indirect when hiring. Americans have a tendency to come in with guns blazing which is not always received well here! Maintain persistence, but with patience.

There are bound to be growing pains. Be kind to yourself and remind yourself you are in a very small percentage of people who have chosen an adventurous expat life! It’s okay to feel lost sometimes because it’s all a part of finding comfort in the uncomfortable. Create goals and networks of friends. You’ll be amazed at the things you’ll learn about yourself and the world.


Leadership with the Brain in Mind!
By Alka Chandiramani

Socrates is well known for having used questions as a method of reasoning. Often referring to himself as ‘the midwife of men’s thoughts,’ he helped people ‘give birth’ to new insights, believing that real understanding came from within.  

Asking powerful questions can be the answer to solving many problems in organizations and the world at large. Questions trigger activation in the neurotransmitters in our brain. The limbic system is constantly making toward or away decisions. Dr. Evian Gordon and Lea Williams from the Brain Resource Center showed with the integrate model that the overarching organizing principle of the brain is to classify the world around us into things that will either hurt or help us stay alive.


Questions help us open our minds. The effects of powerful questions can change lives, igniting creativity and empowering us to push beyond our own capabilities.


We are constantly striving to improve; as social beings, we learn from both verbal interactions and through body language. The first question many children ask is, “Why?” Parents all too often respond with, “because I told you so”. However, the mind is like a monkey, always jumping around. Questions help to spark a conversation and trigger deeper meaning to our lives.


From a neuroscience perspective, questions activate the brain’s frontal lobe, which gives us the ability to think and make choices. However, asking the right questions is pertinent to create that eureka moment. In the 1990s, cognitive scientists John Kounios and Mark Beeman started studying the eureka moment, which occurs when we go from being stuck on a problem to having the ability to reinterpret a "stimulus, situation, or event to produce a non-obvious, non-dominant interpretation." Through extensive research, Kounios and Beeman found that milliseconds before epiphanies, the activity in the brain’s visual area basically shuts down. Kounios calls it a brain blink; the moment right before the solution hits us.

When we ask someone a tough question, they often look away or down so they can think of the solution. In that moment, their brain is momentarily reducing visual input.

Kounios and Beeman, authors of The Eureka Factor, used puzzles and problems to study brain activity. They found that right before the problem is presented, activity in the visual part of an analytical person’s brain would amp up to take in as much information as possible. Conversely, the visual cortex would shut down for those who don’t solve problems in a methodical way, allowing them to block out the environment, look inward, and "find and retrieve subconscious ideas," says Kounios.

The above clearly indicates how powerful questions can activate brain activity and if we approach questions in the context of creating a solution focused outcome, we may be able to truly enlighten an individual to unveil what lies deep within.


This article is written with special thanks to Toni DudsakAmerican Association of Singapore, for the inspiration over the years and to the entire team past and present at AAS. 


Investing for a Brighter Future
By Ann Marie Regal

Expatriate life offers us many benefits, and opportunities to explore Asia and beyond. It’s easy to get carried away, fulfilling our bucket list of experiences and forget that we need to continue to plan for a future that may feel very distant. Whether that be saving for a home or retirement, funding a child’s education, ensuring appropriate life and health insurance or estate planning.

Pitfalls for Americans Investing from Abroad

I often meet with clients who have been steered towards offshore insurance and investment products by financial advisors with limited experience involving US taxation requirements. These products, often labeled savings plans, portfolio bonds or executive investment bonds, are sold as investment accounts with a life insurance component. Within these insurance policies, it is possible to dollar-cost-average monthly into mutual funds or invest lump sums into stocks, bonds, mutual funds, Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) or alternative investments.

 At first glance, they appear to be a great solution for a US taxpayer working and living abroad to help them save for their life goals. Until tax time.

Foreign life insurance policies usually don’t meet the strict criteria of life insurance as defined by the Internal Revenue Code. Instead, they often are considered to be a taxable financial account by the IRS: a tax-punitive financial account. These types of investments are usually defined by the IRS as a Passive Foreign Investment Companies (PFICs).

What is a PFIC?

PFICs can include offshore mutual funds, other financial products such as hedge funds, non-US pension plans, foreign Real Estate Investment Trust (REITs) and maybe even your bank’s money-market account. PFICs are subject to extremely complex US tax rules and many unsuspecting US taxpayers find themselves facing unexpected and significant filing requirements come tax time. For example, each PFIC should be reported on IRS form 8621 and CPAs charge up to US$250 per form. Additionally, unrealized gains may be taxed up to 39.6%, possibly up to 50% if there are state tax obligations.

FATCA Compliant ≠ US Personal Tax Compliance

Most foreign life insurance companies are Foreign Account Tax Compliant Act (FATCA) compliant. The law requires all non-US foreign financial institutions (FFI's) report the assets and identities of US persons to the US Department of the Treasury. FATCA requires US taxpayers to file yearly reports for their non-US financial accounts on IRS form 8938. FATCA compliance is separate from the actual reporting and tax liability of PFICs. The IRS penalties for non-compliance are steep.

My advice for all US taxpayers is to invest globally, only through US registered investments on a US platform that generates an IRS 1099. Do not invest locally.

Ann Marie Regal, CFP® is an American who holds the US Certified Financial Planner designation. She is a licensed financial advisor in both Singapore & America. All opinions are expressed solely from a US taxpayer’s perspective.

Financial Advice from a Buddhist Monk?
By Andrew Hallam

Featured in August 2016's Singapore American Newspaper

Last April, I lived in a simple hut in northern Thailand. That’s where I met Grant Lindsley. To him, my hut wasn’t simple. It looked more like the Hilton. He had spent the previous five and a half months living with monks in Northeast Thailand.

 They followed the Theravada school of Buddhism. Local villagers fed them. “They eat one meal per day,” says Grant. “They shave their eyebrows and strictly adhere to the 227 precepts­ provided by the historical Buddha himself.” Such monks don’t care about money or possessions.

 If you work for a company with a 401K or if your financial advisor looks after your IRA, they might now have to operate more like a Buddhist monk. That’s because the US Department of Labor has passed a new law.

 Financial advisors who provide investment advice for retirement accounts will soon be held to a fiduciary standard. That means they’ll have to put their client’s interests ahead of their own. Brokers, insurance agents and most other finance professions can all call themselves “financial advisors.”

 Most can sell whatever they choose. Many put their personal interests well ahead of their client’s needs by selling high fee products that pay them strong commissions. But if they’re providing advice on retirement accounts, this could soon change.

 Some might challenge what fiduciary really means. Could a financial advisor who’s managing an IRA account still stuff a client’s portfolio with high cost, actively-managed mutual funds?

 It’s possible. But if they try to do it with a large company’s 401K, they might be in for a battle. In 2013, Fidelity’s employees put Fidelity to task. Studies show that, long term, index funds outperform most actively managed funds. But the company’s 401K didn’t favor index funds. So Fidelity’s employees sued Fidelity.

 At the time, company spokesperson Vincent Loporchio said, "We believe the lawsuit is totally without merit and we intend to defend vigorously against it. Fidelity has a very generous benefits package that provides significant contributions to our employee's retirement planning."

 But Fidelity lost. In August 2014, CNN reported that “Fidelity agreed to pay $12 million to settle the class-action suits, which alleged that the firm was profiting at the expense of its workers by offering high-cost fund options and charging excessive fees for a plan of its size.”

 Fidelity offers some of the industry’s lowest-cost, actively-managed funds. Their 401K also offered index funds. But 85 percent of the assets under the plan were invested in actively-managed products.

 Will financial advisors or 401K providers be broaching fiduciary standards if they recommend actively-managed funds for retirement accounts?

 Some people will argue that.



In conversation With Dr Bidushi Bhattacharya

Featured in April 2017's Singapore American Newspaper

How did you hear about CRCE?

I first learned about CRCE through one of the CRCE members and volunteer, Munira Hyder-Adam.

Have you attended any CRCE seminars?

Yes…I attended the AAS CRCE Entrepreneurship Seminar in September 2015, which was moderated by Mouna Aouri Langendorf. It was great to talk to her after the presentation and she was kind enough to share her experiences. I’ve also attended a number of other seminars since then.

Tell us more about your background and professional experiences…

I am a rocket scientist and entrepreneur with experience in spacecraft development and operations, academic administration, scientific research, and technical writing; now the founder and CEO of Bhattacharya Space Enterprises (, a Singaporean startup dedicated to space technology incubation and training. My previous experience includes over two decades with NASA as a scientist and engineer. I used to analyze and synthesize technical information and played a key role in fostering communication between academic and industrial teams with varying priorities and work cultures, both within the US and overseas. NASA projects have included the Hubble Space Telescope, the Mars Rover Program, the Galileo Mission to Jupiter and the European Space Agency's Herschel Space Observatory. 

I also have experience in higher education research development and established the Office of Sponsored Research for science programs at Claremont McKenna, Pitzer and Scripps Colleges, in Claremont, California.

You have set up your own business in Singapore; can you share some of the resources that you used during that process?

The CRCE was instrumental to the establishment of my company. I was curious about self-defined opportunities in Singapore and considering setting up a space technology company but noticed that everyone else with a startup that I’d met to date had a business background. Mouna is trained as an engineer, so my conversation with her really was helpful.

For other aspiring entrepreneurs, what are the top three insider secrets you’d like to share about LinkedIn?

  • Become a Premium member…the extra services allow you to send InMail and reach out to people who are not already part of your network
  • Check out who’s viewing your profile
  • Keep your LinkedIn profile updated!

What tips do you have for individuals who might be looking for work or a career change?

  • I think the networking culture in Singapore is quite strong, so don’t be shy about attending meetups (including mine, Singapore Astropreneurs!) to learn what people are working on. A number of my connections and contacts have been made through various networking events. University alumni groups’ events are especially helpful and the people you encounter are always willing to reach out and share their knowledge of various industries, opportunities in Singapore, etc..

Top Insider LinkedIn Tips

By Linda Le

In Singapore and Asia, LinkedIn is still heavily perceived as the platform to visit if you want a job. However, in more mature markets where LinkedIn has a higher penetration, people are leveraging the platform for sales, marketing, lead generation, business networking, business collaborations and much more. So the first secret is changing your mindset and seeing the opportunities that LinkedIn can offer. It’s much more than just a platform to seek jobs.

It sounds basic, but not a lot of people do this: treat people on LinkedIn as if they were a real person in front of you. There’s something about a computer screen that makes some people forget the common business etiquette of meeting and greeting people. One example is connecting with people and never talking to them again until you need something from them or want to sell them something. That’s like having an aunt or uncle who only calls when they want something from you. LinkedIn is all about strengthening and fostering key relationships.

Your profile is the foundation to your personal brand and to your efforts on LinkedIn overall. You will be judged based on your profile. Sometimes, what’s in (or not in) your profile becomes the difference between you getting that job offer, that partnership deal, that coffee meeting, that phone call and the like. So do invest some time. First impressions count!

Keep building your network as 75% of jobs are never advertised. So get out there, meet people and keep spreading the word about what you want.

Be clear about what you want, what your direction is or where you’re heading. People are busy and if what you’re looking for is unclear and convoluted, they’re not going to know how to help you and they certainly won’t go out of their way to offer support. By being concise, you (and what you offer) becomes much more memorable. It becomes much easier for them to keep an eye or ear out for you as they go about their day-to-day business. This is the same whether you’re looking for a job or looking to rebrand yourself and your offerings.

Seek to add value where you can. Here is where you can be creative. People want to hire the go-getters, the ones who take initiative, the ones that add a ton of value. Is there a way you can help somebody else while you’re seeking that new opportunity? Just remember to choose wisely and invest your time strategically here.


Writing a Military to Civilian Resume

Transitioning from a military career to a civilian one is never an easy one. Here are some steps to help military personnel structure their resume appropriately. Thanks to for sharing this with CRCE: New Guide to Writing a Military to Civilian Resume


Looking for Great Mexican Food?

The August issue of SAN had all sorts of info about great Mexican food resturants. If you love Mexican food, then be sure to check out these hot spots!


50 Years Together

Kirk Wagar, the US Ambassador to Singapore, and Ashok Mirpuri, the Singapore Ambassador to the US, recently published an article together in The Straits Times commemorating 50 years of formal diplomatic relations between the two nations. Read the full article here.

Lee Hsien Loong: America's Exceptionalism

The Wall Street Journal recently published an interview with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on his take about the Obama administrations's unratified Trans-Pacific Parnertship (TPP) trade deal. Read the entire article here.


_BWHouseExterior_EJanesIMG_0206How to Rent a Black & White House

By Melinda Murphy

Renting one of Singapore's Black and White houses can be a bit tricky. Few are available so competition to get one is fierce and people bid on them as soon as they are listed. So if you want to live in a Black and White, you’ll most likely need patience. Some privately owned Black and Whites are available through rental companies and has the majority of listings. However, most Black and Whites are state-owned. For these as well as colonial terraces, the first thing you have to do is visit the SLA’ State Property Information (SPIC).

Attend the open house
Dates for open house viewings are usually stated at the bottom of the property listing. Just make sure you get there before the bidding is closed.

Place your bid
The bidding form and tenancy agreement can be downloaded at the bottom of your dream home’s page. Check you are eligible to bid as not everybody is allowed to participate. Only submit one bid per family or they will all be tossed out! Look online for private listings to get some idea on what you should expect to pay.

Study the contract
Closely read the tenancy agreement to make sure you’re okay with the terms. These are often a bit more complicated than an “average” condo agreement.

Prepare payment
You have to submit a bank check for your bidding deposit in the amount listed in the upper right hand corner of the bidding form. It should be addressed to the management listed in Section D.

You also have to submit a copy of your passport and a copy of your paystubs for the past three months or a copy of your latest tax return. You can also get your company to write a letter stating your monthly salary.

Put all the necessary documents in an envelope and drop it in Tender Box No. 5 at the SLA, 55 Newton Road, #12-01, Revenue House, Singapore 307987

Good luck!


Useful Real Estate Websites

Did you read the Singapore American Newspaper article on buying real estate in Singapore and want to learn more? Then check out these useful Singapore government websites for useful information.

Singapore Land Authority

Urban Redevelopment Authority

Monetary Authority of Singapore

Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore

Housing Development Board


Integrated Land Information Service

Building and Construction Authority

Land Transit Authority

JTC Corporation


To Hedge Fund or Not?

By Andrew Hallam

At some point, many expats look to juice their investments. It makes sense.  By living abroad, most of us don’t pay into US Social Security or other home country equivalents. That means, once we retire, we won’t reap full benefits.  Our personal investments need to take up the slack.

So, should you consider hedge funds? Data says no. According to the HFRX hedge fund index, the typical hedge fund has averaged a compound annual return of less than one percent over the past 13 years. How about the most popular hedge funds?

According to Barron’s, the 20 biggest hedge funds averaged a compound annual return of 6.5 percent during the three years ending October 31, 2015.  That would have turned a $10,000 investment into $12,079.

In contrast, the average, large US stock (as measured by Vanguard’s S&P 500 index) averaged a compound return of 16.4 percent over the same time period. The same $10,000 would have grown to $15,770. Only one of the 20 biggest hedge funds managed to beat the index.

Over the past five years, the dollar difference widened. The 20 biggest hedge funds averaged a compound return of just 6.8 percent. That would have turned $10,000 into $13,894. The S&P 500, by comparison, roared on every cylinder. It averaged an annual compound return of 14.2 percent. The same $10,000 would have grown to $19,423.

In 2008, just before the market crash, Warren Buffett bet a firm $1 million that it couldn’t pick funds of hedge funds that could beat the S&P 500 over a ten year period. The markets fell, shortly after the bet was made. Hedge funds promise to make money during good times and bad. But the funds fell almost as far as the market itself. Seven years later, Buffett is winning, with the S&P 500 beating the hedge funds by 45 percent.

But perhaps it’s not fair to compare hedge funds to a stock market index.  Let’s add bonds. Vanguard’s balanced index fund is made up of 60 percent stocks, 40 percent bonds. Bonds, as we know, have horribly low yields. But only three of the biggest 20 hedge funds managed to keep pace with Vanguard’s balanced index over the past five years.

Hedge funds usually perform poorly for a couple of reasons. Most charge a two percent management fee. They then take 20 percent of the profits that the fund actually makes. Warren Buffett says it’s a great way for hedge fund managers to get rich fast, but investors pay the price.

In hopes of generating higher returns, many managers borrow to invest. When their bets go sideways, their passengers suffer. John Lanchester, writing for the New Yorker, reported that most hedge funds disappear after just five years.


Hedge funds, it seems, are hardly worth the risk.



Those Who Go and Those Who Stay Behind

By Ana Mollinedo Mims

Sitting on corporate boards, whether public or private, can be quite prestigious and the pay that goes with it rewarding. Accepting such posts for seasoned executives is a “no brainer” and a goal for most executives as they reach seniority.

But why sit on the board of a nonprofit organization (NPO)?  Nine out of ten times there is no pay, no reward and little to no prestige by comparison to that of a corporate board position. If volunteering is that important, why not use the time to go somewhere and dig water wells, build a house for a needy family or plant a garden?

There will always be a small minority of people who like to fill their CV with community positions and titles but, as many more have found, the cost of volunteering skills and talent comes at a greater price. Volunteering is not for the faint-hearted or the CV-enhancers.

In Singapore, there were 2,211 registered charities as of October 6 of this year based on the information on Singapore’s charity website portal. That means there are many organizations that need board members. But what can you do?

The Centre for Non-Profit Leadership (CNPL) is an institution whose mission is to advocate planned leadership and to nurture leadership capability for Singapore’s nonprofit sector. CNPL helps nonprofit organizations create a leadership pipeline and build effective boards. According to Edna Leong, Director of Board Search for CNPL, NPOs need several things from their boards:

  • Board Diversity & Renewal
  • Leadership Gaps
  • Strategic Planning
  • Succession Planning

CNPL provides an effective framework that takes a holistic view of supporting board members and executive directors. The institution helps NPOs achieve high potential in the area of talent and organizational mission management.

According to a study conducted by Bain & Company in collaboration with CNPL, “Unlocking the Power of Singapore’s Nonprofits,” there are several trends fueling the need for nonprofit talent at the board level in general. Here in Singapore, those trends center on various things:

  • The increased growth of the aging population leading to an increased need in services.
  • The deepening socioeconomic divide creating needs among lower income workers.
  • The overall culture shift towards donating more fueled by the government’s promotion of tax-deductible contributions to Institutions of Public Character (IPC).

With the need for nonprofit involvement to help resolve growing social needs comes the need for more capable NPO leadership to steward the organization and carve out a path for the future. Interestingly enough, the Bain study found that some of the challenging areas for NPO leaders are in the areas of financial competency, marketing, communications and talent retention.

Understanding the challenges and realities is what motivates individuals to pursue volunteering their time on boards of NPOs instead of going into the field to plant a tree or dig a well.  However, while writing this article, I realized that while the majority of people to whom I casually spoke (including myself) enjoy volunteering their executive talent, they also like to volunteer in the field at some point in their lives.

Leong said, “Many volunteers feel that by sitting at board/committee level, they would better contribute to the strategic thrust of NPOs given their “big picture” thinking skill sets and benefiting all beneficiaries over the longer term versus helping specific groups under general volunteering on an ad hoc basis.”

The Lowdown on Local Food Spots

By Lena Chong

Want to try Singapore’s  must-try dishes, but don’t know where to go? Here’s all you need to know about some favorites.


A popular spot for laksa is Janggut Laksa (Queensway Shopping Centre, #01-59). Look out for a variation on this dish called katong laksa, with vermicelli cut so short you only need a spoon to eat. You can find this at 328 Katong Laksa (51/53 East Coast Road, Singapore 428770). The Assam version can be found in various Penang restaurants on the island, as well. 

Bak Chor Mee

Bak Chor Mee
Tai Hwa Pork Noodle
(Blk 466 Crawford Lane #01-12) is one of the most famous spots in Singapore, butYan Kee Noodle House behind Boat Quay (BK Eating House, Junction of South Bridge Rd & Circular Rd) is another hot contender that claims the 24-hour crowd leaving nearby parties.

Buk Kut Teh

Bak Kut Teh
Fans often flock to favorites like Ya Hua Bak Kut Teh (#01-01/02, Isetan Office Building, 593 Havelock Road), which has been around since 1973, stays open late and now has a second branch on Keppel Road. Other popular places to try are the stalls that line Balstier Road, a hot area where patrons line up patiently. For somewhere closer to Central, try Leong Kee (Klang) Bak Kut Teh (321 Beach Road) instead.

Chicken Rice

Hainanese Chicken Rice
Here are some famous stalls to try: Tian Tian Chicken Rice (Maxwell Road Hawker Center), Boon Tong Kee (401 Balestier Road) - an old favorite of mine. There is also Nam Kee Chicken Rice & Restaurant (201, Upper Thomson Road). If you don't mind paying more than $30 for a plate that may cost only $4-5 at the hawker center, the famous Chatterbox in Mandarin Orchard Hotel is good to try.

Chili Crab

Chili or Pepper Crab
All seafood restaurants in Singapore thrive on these dishes so you will find it across this island including chains like No Signboard Seafood ( and Jumbo Seafood ( and restaurants like Long Beach Seafood on the East Coast. A modern new player to try is at Momma Kongs ( in Chinatown. Don’t wear white on your first attempt at this dish. Restaurants may provide bibs and even gloves as it can get messy!

If you try Singaporean food and want to learn to make it yourself, try these fabulous cooking classes:

Cookery Magic
Specializing in expat cooking classes, they offer a wide variety of Asian cooking classes as well as corporate events.

Cookyn Inc.
This company specializes in party cooking classes and offers a special Taste of Singapore class for 16-60 people.

Coriander Leaf
Offering a class called “Street of Singapore,” this popular cooking school also offers classes in most Asian foods.

Grandmother's Recipes
If it’s Singaporean food you want, this is the place for you. Rosaline Soon teaches her grandmother’s Peranakan recipes.

Palate Sensations
This school offers a massive selection of local dishes including classes in just crab dishes.

ToTT Store
This culinary shopping mecca also has a massive offering of classes including both Asian and Western foods.

Photos by: Apple Foodees Malaysia, Vincent Ferrer, Justin Ong, Soon Koon


bali_food_-_my_rosedayTravel to Cook

By Lena Chong

If you’re a foodie at heart, then taking cooking classes on vacation is for you! Here is a smattering of some of the Indonesia courses available in Bali. Pick up the August edition of Singapore American Newspaper for classes in Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam.

Indonesian Cuisine - Bali

Many visitors stay for weeks, on this island that's home to hip designers, avid divers and amazing shopping. Learning the cuisine seems like a natural thing to do here. For that, you can go to one of the earliest cooking classes on the island, Bumbu Bali. Hosted by Heinz von Holzen, a former five-star resort Executive Chef and author of numerous books on Balinese cuisine, it starts at the Jimbaran Fish Market and village and ends with a review of your creations and a class celebration.

If you enjoy a more local experience, Warung Eny is a humble, but popular, little Balinese warung or traditional diner. Founded by Ibu Eny and her husband Wayan, this may well be the best local family run enterprise in Seminyak for learning authentic, Balinese homemade cuisine.

Another famous culinary institute is Casa Luna where you not only learn about herbs and spices used, but also the role and significance of food in Balinese society and their colourful ceremonies.



Too much stuff?

By Rob Faroane

Need to store it somewhere? Then check out this list of the largest self-storage providers in Singapore. For more information about storage options in Singapore including space provided by big moving companies, check out the August issue of Singapore American Newspaper.

Extra Space Self Storage
Five locations: Boon Keng Road, IMM Building, Kallang Way, Marymount Road, Toh Guan

Part of Singapore Post with four locations: Ayer Rajah, Chai Chee, Serangoon North and Tanjong Pagar

Self Store
Two facilities: Hoy Fatt Road, Lower Delta Road

Twelve locations: Ang Mo Kio, Bukit Batok, Bukit Merah, Chai Chee, Geylang, Macpherson, Pasir Panjang, Serangoon, Serangoon North, Tagore Lane, Tai Seng, Woodlands

Nine locations: Bukit Batok, Changi, Hougang, Kallang, 23 Tampines, 37 Tampines, Toa Payoh, Woodlands, Woodlands Loop

Three locations: Ang Mo Kio, Eunos, Woodlands





There are so many fun things to do to celebrate Father’s Day in Singapore apart from the usual suspects like the zoo or aquarium. For starters, you can stuff dear ol’ dad with everything from steak to seafood. Or maybe your dad is a sporty type. There’s something for him, too. Arts, you say? Got you covered. Take a gander at how you can celebrate.


The American Club
Try one of the three restaurants, each offering different options on Father’s Day.
Colonial Room - 10a-12p or 12:45-2:45p; Adults $39.95 and up
The 2nd Floor -11:30a-2:30p; Adults $65.95 and up
Eagle’s Nest – 9a-3p; Walk-in only; Adults $28.50

Want something different? Try the Nordic-inspired “cake” made out of all things seafood.  
$48++ (order 3 days in advance)

Axis Bar & Lounge
Through July 31, try the special trio of mini sliders paired with wine.
Sliders: $42 for three
Wine: $25-28 per glass

Treat dad to this massive buffet spread piled high with seafood, Italian treats and desserts galore.
$133 per person; $192 paired free flow prosecco and wine

If hanging out on the Singapore River watching sports and eating a nice brunch is your dad’s favorite, then give Singapore’s home of live sport a whirl.

Caffe B
June 14-21, this hot spot at Marina Bay Sands is offering a four-course lunch or dinner for dad that includes treats like tuna, beef and a flaming dessert.
$60++; add $30 for wine pairing

Dolce Vita
Splurge by treating dad to this fabulous, Italian champagne brunch.
$118++ per person; $158 free flow champagne, wine, beer and cocktails

Lawry’s The Prime Rib
On Saturday and Sunday both, you can treat dad to a four-course lunch or five-course dinner featuring items such as bacon-wrapped lobster tail, prime rib or Atlantic cod.  
Brunch $78-$88++; dinner $98-$108++

If your dad is into steak, Morton’s is the place to be for a special three-course meal featuring entrees like ribeye steak, center cut filet or a salmon fillet.
$156 per person

Min Jiang
Maybe your dad fancies dumplings?  On Saturday and Sunday, try this special Father’s Day dim sum buffet at the Goodwood Park Hotel.
$68-$79.50 per person; two diner minimum

Paulaner Brauhaus
This German restaurant has a massive Father’s Day spread with a corner for small children to play while adults stuff themselves silly.

Picotin Express
Want something a little less expensive? Then try one of the Picotin Express outlets for dad-like meals at kid-like prices.

Slappy Cakes
Start the day off right with pancakes you make at the table yourself. Kids will love this place!

Smokey’s BBQ
Is your dad just a regular guy who likes eating BBQ and knocking back a couple of beers? Then try Smokey’s BBQ. And every weekend, you get one free kid’s meal (kids 10 and under)with an adult meal.

Swim and Eat
Parkland Green is the new area on the East Coast filled with restaurants and a massive green space. Sandbank is a fun, new restaurant there with a small pool for kids to enjoy while you eat and watch sports on TV.

Crave fabulous Japanese food in a zen-like atmosphere? Then Syun is your place. You can choose from a five-course lunch or seven-course dinner on Father’s Day proper featuring the fanciest Japanese food ever.
$111 for lunch: $173-$185 for dinner

Tajong Beach Club
This is a great place to have a meal while the kids play in the sand or swim in the pool.


Ballet Under the Stars
Come enjoy the 20th edition of this Singapore tradition and catch a medley of eye-popping works.

Bike Riding
Take a family bike ride. Wait! You don’t have bikes? No worries. Just rent them from Lifestyle Bike ‘n’ Skate. They even have bikes built for two and family bikes, too.

Drive a Lamborghini
Give dad a thrill and let him drive a Lamborghini – even if only for a few minutes.

Flight Experience
Has dad always had a hankering to fly a plane? Here’s his chance to give it a try. Kids can even sit in the jump seat to see how dad does.

How about a round of golf with the kids – mini-golf that is. Champions Golf is worth a visit and you can grab a nice, scenic meal afterward.

iFly Singapore
Get a feel for what it’s like to jump out of a plane at iFly.

For the active dad, sail through the air over Sentosa or try a high ropes course at this fun adventure park.

Natural History Museum
Give Singapore’s newest museum a go.

Prawn Fishing
Take Dad fishing, Singapore style. Try your hand at prawn fishing.

Here’s a chance to have some fun with your kids the day before Father’s Day doing everything from games to an outdoor movie.

Take dad surfing! Well, sort of anyway. The whole family can get a feel for what it’s like to catch the perfect wave at Sentosa’s Wavehouse.






The American Association of Singapore sends its deepest condolences to the Lee family and the people of Singapore on the passing of Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew (1923-2015). The passionate leadership and vision of Mr. Lee propelled Singapore from a colonial entrepot, through turbulent nation-building years to a first-world, international city. Mr. Lee along with his talented team of ministers and advisors transformed a small, resource-scarce island into a thriving, stable, safe metropolis that is the envy of many. AAS, from its humble beginnings in 1917, has witnessed the dramatic changes in Singapore, ever-more apparent since Independence in 1965 and the rise of Mr. Lee and his People’s Action Party; he was an ally and strategic partner to the US. While he will be missed, Lee Kuan Yew set in motion a successful government and legacy that will remain for all to see.  #LKY #Singapore #LittleRedDot #AmerAssocSg

Principal_Artist_Chihiro_Uchida_in_Sleeping_Beauty_-_PhotoCredit-Nicolethen_StudioSleeping Beauty

By Nithia Devan

Singapore Dance Theatre kicks off its 2015 season with Sleeping Beauty, a ballet often considered the pinnacle of classical repertoire. Staged by Artistic Director Janek Schergen and featuring choreography by Marius Petipa, Singapore Dance Theatre (SDT) will bring this beloved fairytale to life at the Esplanade Theatre this March.

The story of the “The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood” is well known and was the first fairy tale in the Mother Goose collection by the French writer Charles Perrault in 1697.

The story begins the christening of a long-wished-for princess (Princess Aurora) for the King and Queen.  Fairies are invited from far and wide as godmothers to offer gifts, such as beauty, wit, and musical talent, to the baby girl. But the King made a social faux pas: he invited all the fairies except for the evil fairy Carabosse. Seeking revenge, Carabosse turns up at the christening and puts a curse on Aurora: when she turns 16, the Princess will prick her finger on a spindle and die. But the good Lilac Fairy comes to the rescue, and reduces the curse to 100 years of sleep. Then indeed, on her 16th birthday Aurora accidentally pricks her finger. A 100 years later, the dashing Prince Florimund stumbles upon the old castle where Aurora slumbers. He kisses her, breaking the spell. The ballet ends with a grand finale-wedding scene.

Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky created the score of The Sleeping Beauty for the Imperial Ballet at St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theater. First performed January 3, 1890, the now-classic ballet was originally created by Ivan Vsevolozhsky and choreographed by Marius Petipa. In a legendary demonstration of passion, Tchaikovsky composed the entire score in only 40 days!

It is believed that Sleeping Beauty is the ultimate test for any ballet company.

It demands the highest level of classical technique and pushes dancers to their physical limits. There are many challenging solo variations and intricate corps numbers packed into a three-hour long performance. Singapore Dance Theatre’s Artistic Director, Janek Schergen agrees, “Sleeping Beauty is the turning point for technique for a company, and is often considered as the finest achievement in classical ballet. Sleeping Beauty remains a production that fully demonstrates the artistic achievement and maturity of SDT on stage. This entirely classical version was first produced for the company in 2010 and was a milestone moment for the company at the time. In the five years since bringing Sleeping Beauty to the stage, it more and more reflects what SDT has become today, in terms of confidence and authority in classical ballet productions in our repertoire. The sets and costumes, by Tracy Grant Lord, and the magnificence of Marius Petipa’s original vision, remain a testament to why the ballet remains such a strong and memorable part of our ever growing repertoire.”


Here is the line-up of principal dancers for this production:

Princess Aurora:      Chihiro Uchida/ Rosa Park
Prince Florimund:    Kenya Nakamura/ Chen Peng
Lilac Fairy:                 Li Jie / Elaine Heng
Carabosse:                Emma Hanley Jones

The Principal Artists have performed these roles before, while Li Jie and Elaine are performing as the Lilac Fairy for the first time. 

This is the third time the SDT is performing this ballet.  Every time the ballet is performed, there are minor changes made to the production, but overall, it is sticks to its original version. “You don’t change Sleeping Beauty,” says Janek Schergen, “It changes you, as a dancer and as a ballet company."

With its awe-inspiring opulence and outstanding choreography, Sleeping Beauty is set to turn heads this year. Be spellbound by one of the most famous ballets in the classical repertoire!

Sleeping Beauty by the Singapore Dance Theatre will be at the Esplanade Theatre from March 12-15, 2014 (Thursday to Sunday).

For tickets and more information, please visit and


Uber Lion DanceJust for Fun | Uber Chinese New Year Excitement

February 12, 2015

Uber is offering a really fun thing for Chinese New Year: #UberLionDance on-demand!

From 10am to 6pm tomorrow, Friday, February 13, open up your Uber app, swipe to the lion icon and press "SET PICKUP LOCATION." Uber wil lcome straight over to  you with the award-winning Kuan San Tang lion dance troupe for an on-demand lion dance performance! Each performance runs 20 minutes and costs $88 - for good luck.


Just for Fun | Do you know?

Try your hand at some of the questions from January's AAS Quiz Night by figuring out what movie features these scenes, pictured here without actors.












The Answers

  1.  American Pie
  2.  School of Rock
  3.  O’ Brother, Where Art Thou?
  4.  Miss Congeniality
  5.  Urban Cowboy
  6.  Sound of Music
  7.  When Harry Met Sally
  8.  Dirty Dancing
  9.  Tootsie
  10.  Fatal Attraction

Just for Fun | Top Ten Cool Things about Chinese New Year as an ExPat

By Melinda Murphy
February 9, 2015

10. Singapore is actually kind of quiet.

9. Gorging on pineapple tarts is a must.

8. Taking in all the sights of Chinatown gets the heart racing.

7. Most people look good in red.

6. It's a good excuse not to sweep your house for three days.

5. Shopping is required.

4. Free fireworks are for everybody.

3. You can throw your food on the floor and nobody cares (Lo Hei).

2. Four day weekends rock!

1. You can borrow your kids' Hung Bao to pay the rent.

Living in Singapore | Thaipusam Through Expat Eyes

2015-02-02_21.32.01By Melinda Murphy
February 4, 2015

There are some things in life that you simply have to do.  Witnessing Thaipusam first-hand is one of those must-dos.

Thaipusam is a Hindu festival celebrated mostly by the Tamil community on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai, in January or February.  The word is a combination of the name of the month and the name of a star known as Pusam which is at its highest during the festival.  It commemorates when the Hindu goddess of love, Parvati, gave Murugan, the Hindu god of war, a spear so he could vanish an evil demon. read more


Health & Wellness | Interview with Aimee Barnes


By Laura Coulter
December 15, 2014

LC: Congratulations on your big wins!  Is bodybuilding something that you've always been interested in?

AB: Thank you, it was a good first year of flexing! Bodybuilding has been on my radar since I was a kid. My Dad was really into weightlifting and bodybuilding aesthetics for many years and that was a big part of our lifestyle at home—the baggy muscle pants, the raw egg yolk protein shakes he used to have me drink, the muscle magazines, Tiger’s Milk bars, all of that. When I started getting into trouble as a teen, he’d bring me to Gold’s Gym with him and make me work out. I guess the interest was seeded around then, but I never had the discipline to go with it at the time. Read more


Living in Singapore | Singapore American School Student Awarded Congressional Bronze Medal


By Maureen Murray
December 10, 2014

Claudia Krogmeier, a senior at Singapore American School, recently received the Congressional Bronze Medal Award. She was commended for “her willingness to give of herself to voluntarily help others in the community and her achievements in personal development, physical fitness and expedition.”

I had the opportunity to sit down with Claudia in Thyme Café at the American Club so that I could ask her about her four-year commitment to completing the goals set out by the Congressional Medal Committee. She is a bright, exceptionally focused young woman who shares a story about channeling her energy to maximize her high school experience. Like many truly exceptional students, she helps others along the way. Read more


World Toilet Day Was November 19th. Wow. Be Still, My Beating Heart.


By Melissa Diagana
Novermber 3, 2014

No, please, do NOT try to still your heart!  We should all be truly, madly, and deeply excited by the importance of the toilet.

The humble toilet can be the focal point for discussions about safety, education, disease transmission, children’s health, cleanliness, potable water, cultural taboos, gender discrimination and economic development. Really. Read more



The Badi Book Worm


By Angel Corrigan

3 Novermber, 2014

When Asmita enters the modest library at Christian Community School (CCS), she wonders, “What is there to read about today?” Maybe I’ll find out more about France, China or the USA. Maybe I will look at a book that tells me about what life was like for our ancestors or one that focuses on the possibilities of the future.” It is through the pages of books she can control where she goes and whom she meets. Just a short time ago this was not the case. Read more




Is Giving Worth It


By Richard Hartung

3 November, 2014

Is giving worth it? It’s a question you probably ask yourself many times, such as when the school asks for a donation or a non-profit asks you to organize an event. When there’s so much else to do, from finishing projects at work to taking care of the family and even just shopping for groceries, it might seem like it’s not worth it to give up more of your time, talent or treasure to yet another cause. Read more





Innovating for a Good Cause - Social Change in Action


By Prionka Ray

3 November, 2014 

Research shows that creativity and logic reside in two different hemispheres of the brain and that’s why some children are more inclined to be creative while others tend to be more logical. Research also indicates that if nurtured early, both sides of the brain can be activated and trained for a holistic approach to an individual. This is where “Design Thinking” comes in. Read more





DaySpring Residential Treatment Center



3 November, 2014

Vision: “To see every girl and woman, especially those at risk, live a life of purpose and hope, make peace with her past, and find purpose in her present and renewed hope for the future.” Read more



Independence Day is coming!


There will be fireworks!By AAS

16 June 2014

Come join us at the Singapore American School on June 28th, for our annual Independence Day celebration! The fun starts at 4 PM and will include food and drinks from the American Club, Casa Latina, FairPrice Finest, Hoe Brothers Catering and Smokey’s BBQ. There will also be music, formal ceremonies, and a fireworks display to finish off the evening! Read more



AAS | 2014 Membership Survey - Win Great Prizes

AASSelf_storage_-name_of_photographer_is_Steel_StorageBy AAS

26 May, 2014


Complete the 2014 Annual AAS Membership Survey and give us your feedback on AAS activities and events. The American Association of Singapore appreciates your feedback. What works well? What could we do better? ... Read more



Career | Getting Serious with LinkedIn

Finding a job through Linkedin tips.jpgBy Linda Le

23 February, 2014


Most of you by now will be carrying out your New Year resolutions with big plans to make it the best year ever – how can a bit of planning on LinkedIn help you achieve this? With a professional membership of over 259 million people globally... Read more



Career | The Employment Pass Landscape In Singapore

employment pass singapore tips.jpgBy Shanker Iyer

24 January, 2014


An Employment Pass is a work pass that allows foreign professionals to work in Singapore in managerial, executive or specialised jobs. What are the changes in the Employment Pass landscape in Singapore? If you couldn't make it to our recent CRCE event on this topic, view the presentation here... Read More


Career | Business Start-up: Marketing & Social Media

Starting a business in Singapore.jpgBy Richard Hartung

10 January, 2014


After registering your business and deciding where to work, it’s time to let potential clients know you’re in business. While traditional marketing may have been the key in the past, networking and e-marketing can be far more cost-effective... Read more


Social Media | Internet Safety For The Casual User

Using the internet safely.jpgBy Laura O'Gorman

3 January, 2014


As expats, how can we not adore the Internet? We can stay in touch with our distant loved ones via an array of seemingly cost-free tools and platforms. The convenience offered by these services is tempting – it’s quicker if your browser saves your passwords, it’s handy to back up  files online, it’s useful if... Read More


Food | A Holiday Tradition: Christmas Recipes

christmas recipes by chef malik.jpgBy Malik Riley, Executive Chef, The American Club

27 November, 2013


Back home the weather has turned chilly and the calendar on your desk is also getting thinner. All clues point to the end of another year and that the holiday season is truly upon us. For most of us, this is the time of the year we either look forward to with great gusto or dread because of the family gatherings... Read more 


Career | How Prepared Are You for Global Employment?


30 October, 2013


Three expert speakers joined us for a lunchtime discussion. Lluis Ferre (Managing Director CPM), Yvonne McNulty (Associate Faculty SIM University) and Mario Ferraro (Director Deloitte Human Capital), focused on the areas of career development, expat return on investment and current trends in the global marketplace. The CRCE talk was moderated by Kat van Zutphen (Director Business Development VanMedia Group).  

 line.jpgCareer | Taking the Stress out of Job Hunting

Looking for a job in Singapore tips.jpgBy Dr. Nenna Ndukwe, Chartered Clinical Psychologist and Director, SACAC Counselling

23 October, 2013


Job hunting can be stressful and can present a unique set of challenges. Therefore, it is important to alleviate stress by channeling your efforts in a positive direction.

In order to maintain a positive... Read more line.jpg

Career | Free CRCE eBook: What CRCE Members Have to Say

Moving to Singapore tipsBy CRCE

16 October, 2013


Many of us when moving from our home country usually experience doubts and fears of the unknown. The CRCE team put together a collection of interviews with CRCE members, to get their insights into settling in, finding a job, networking and more. Have a look at our free book " We Can Make Your Transition Easier!"...  Read Moreline.jpg

Food | Restaurant Review: Sur – Latin Flair in the Lion City

Latin American restaurant in Singapore.jpgBy Jayson Moy

23 Semptember, 2013


An exciting trend in gastronomy is that of Latin American cuisine. In Singapore, that niche is filled by Sur – Nuevo Latino Kitchen.

Alejandro Luna, former executive pastry chef at Marina Bay Sands, of Peruvian and Venezuelan descent and Venezuelan Vitelio Reyes, bring us their... Read more


 Travel | Climbing Ireland's Highest Peak: Carrantuohill

Climbing in Ireland, Carrantuohill.jpgBy Declan Scott Pollard

8 September, 2013


The silence in the valley was broken only by the sound of feet hitting uneven paths. Our group of six slowly trekked through Killarney National Park in County Kerry on the southwest coast of Ireland, towards the country’s highest peak, Carrantuohill. The mountain, covered by clouds, loomed into view as... Read More  


Attention | How to find the AAS Emails in Your Gmail Account

Newsletters by AAS.jpgBy AAS Staff

1 August, 2013


Gmail has rolled out tabs that organize your mail. We want to share with you how your favorite emails (like ones from AAS) don’t get lost in the Promotions tab. There are three default tabs: Primary, Social and Promotions (shown below). With the... Read More 


Career | Resume Bloopers: Know Them, Don't Make Them

Resume in Singapore tipsBy Alka Chandiramani, CRCE Manager

23 July, 2013

If you’ve ever watched those TV blooper shows, you know how funny slip-ups, gaffes and blunders can be. But while laughter may be good for the soul, it’s certainly not the response you want your résumé to produce. Baby Boomers (or Gen-X and Gen-Y fans of Nick at Nite) will recall the often hilarious... Read More


Events | Q&A with Actor & Comedian Ian Coppinger

Comedian Ian Coppinger.jpgBy Claire Slattery 

3 July, 2013

Ian Coppinger, actor and comedian from the British cast of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” is coming to Singapore in August for a live show. AAS invites members to join us for a night of hilarious improvised comedy on August 22. We spoke with Ian about his experiences on stage and the cast’s upcoming trip... Read More 



Career | CRCE Evolving with the Times

Career counselling in Singapore.jpgBy Anne Morgan

10 June, 2013 


Throughout its history, AAS has recognized that accompanying partners have varied needs and talents and have consistently provided professional support in the form of workshops and practical advice. Joanne Blakemore, President of the AAS... Read More


Events | Q&A with Bryony Whitfield of Dirty Dancing

Dirty Dancing Musical in SingaporeBy Nithia Devan 

23 April, 2013

Dirty Dancing - A Classic Story On Stage comes to the MasterCard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands from May 28, 2013. Read the interview with Bryony Whitfield, who plays Baby Houseman in the show Dirty Dancing - A Classic Story On Stage... Read More



Career | Family Harmony: The Vital Ingredient for a Career

Career and family in Singapore.jpgBy Anne Morgan

It’s no secret that it is eye-wateringly expensive to move employees around the globe. A recent survey conducted by Towers Watson and Workforce Mobility Association Worldwide ERC, found that the average cost of relocating a global assignee is two to... Read More line.jpg

Things to do | Exercising, Playing, Socialising at Dawson Place

Best places for children in Singapore.jpg

By Magali Muria

11 March, 2013

Sometimes my son and I like to walk our dog around Dawson Place, a public housing area across the street from our condo. Dawson’s buildings are lined up right next to the Alexandra Canal, the upstream end of the Singapore River that was recently turned into a green corridor in the heart of the city. It has... Read More 


Travel | The Essence of Life

German bakery in Mumbai.jpgBy Alka Chandiramani, CRCE Manager

10 March, 2013


Recently, I visited the city of Pune, India and walked past the rubble of the German Bakery in Koregaon Park. The bomb blast at 7:15 pm on February 13, when the bakery was milling withpeople, left a 6’ x 4’ hole in the wall. The German Bakery, like Leopold Restaurant in Mumbai, is mentioned in the Lonely Planet... Read More line.jpg

Career | Trust At First Sight: Making a Lasting Impression 

Networking in Singapore.jpgBy Sally Tang

9 March, 2013


Make sure you present and carry yourself the right way to make a winning first impression that lasts! Your image speaks loudly about ‘who you are’ and impacts how you feel about yourself as well as how others perceive you. When you look great, you will feel great about yourself and will react positively and confidently... Read More



Charity | Cooking Up Blessings with Willing Hearts

Charity organisations in Singapore.jpgBy Angel Corrigan

18 February, 2013

On any morning after 6:00am, 365 days a year, you can walk in to the Willing Hearts central kitchen at 50 Genting Lane, in the Ciderco Building, ask for Uncle Tony and he will put you to work chopping, seasoning, cooking, cleaning or helping to deliver some of the approximately 3,000 meals they prepare... Read More  



Food | Cafe Review: The Fabulous Baker Boy

Best cafes in Singapore.jpgBy Jyoti Angresh

19 December, 2012


Baker boy Baker boy; bake me a cake, The best I can taste; don’t do it in haste Baker boy Baker boy; put in some layers And make it just right for me…

And he does! At the foot of a hill, amidst open lawns, in the heart of the city alongside an art gallery, Singaporean theatre performer... Read More 


Art | Poems on the Coffee Scene

Coffee poems.jpgBy Dan Tan

13 December, 2012


Enter the cafe of quaint and cozy coffee. Some black-clothed crew at the counter, uddering coffee machines the look of time capsules. Invite yourself down upon a wooden chair, dim lighting -- listen to the slow and waltzing music. Let it permeate soul. You're one of the few reserved patrons. The matron of the... Read More  


Career | Job Hunt and Self-Reflection 

Looking for a job in Singapore.jpgBy Alka Chandiramani, CRCE Manager

11 November, 2012


Looking for a job takes perseverance and self-reflection. It can be like kissing many frogs to find your prince or princess. However, it is not a lackadaisical random attempt but requires hard work and is akin to a full-time job. Imagine this scenario: You have... Read More


Travel | Island Peak trek to Nepal – Taking My Breath Away

Island Peak trek to Nepal.jpgBy Helene Blanchette

29 October, 2012

At first, saying yes to a trek in Nepal initiates thoughts of Mount Everest in your mind and you hear yourself say: OK guys I will join the Island Peak trek with you, but only if I can do the shorter version and stop at Everest Peak View Hotel, the highest hotel in the world, the one that promises a breathtaking view of... Read More 


Career | Trailing Talent Talks

Expat wives in Singapore.jpgBy Heidi Bakker Kingman

9 March, 2012


'Tapping into a Unique Source of Local International Talent' was the recent subject of a presentation given at the American Chamber's sub-committee for Human Resources. We discussed the concept of international talent in the Singapore work place and traditional ways of recruiting resources, the successes... Read Moreline.jpg 

Travel | Redang - An Island Escape

Trip to the island Redang.jpgBy Nithia Devan

25 January, 2012


Sun, sand, sea and nothing to do but laze around all day. Sounds like the ideal beach holiday, doesn’t it? If you are short on time and need to get away, you might want to consider Redang, an idyllic setting where you can recharge your batteries... Read More 


Travel | Taking a Cruise to Malacca

Travel by cruise to Malacca.jpgBy Rachel Sunden

19 January, 2012

Recently my mom came to visit for a few weeks. While she was here she became interested in all things Peranakan and decided that she wanted to visit Malacca. I was game and started looking into travel options for a weekend trip. Unfortunately none of them looked great. My car is too old and... Read More 


Career | Trailing Talent, Career Transition and Higher Education

Higher education/MBA in Singapore.jpgBy Jenn Wood

25 September, 2011


I am a trailing spouse. I prefer the term “trailing talent,” coined by CRCE, because it lends a certain je ne sais quoi. I had a solid career back in the US and I had no plans to leave it… but fate intervened as it did for many reading this article. And I found myself in Singapore with a unique and unexpected situation… Read More