Hi, my name is Jay, a proud ShopBack intern alumni! I graduated from Raffles Institution in 2012, and spent 2 years in NS as a tank platoon commander before ORDing and spending half a year interning with a large telecommunications company. Hungry for more challenges, I subsequently ventured into the world of startups. Now I am studying abroad in Cornell University, under the sponsorship of Changi Airport Group and pursuing my newfound interest in Computer Science and entrepreneurship.
I first heard about ShopBack from one of the interns during the interview process for another company. Intrigued by the concept of cashback and the allure of the startup life, I readily agreed to meet with (my ex-boss) Henry the next day. So I showed up in my smartest white collared shirt and leather shoes and out strolled this unassuming guy in his shorts and slippers. After 10 minutes in that interview, I was utterly hooked. I remember thinking that I’d have worked for free, with the amount of exposure and experience that ShopBack promised. Startup life isn’t for everyone – it’s draining, offers low pay but high octane every single day. But I loved it and joined ShopBack as their only HR/talent acquisition person in June 2015.
And I wasn’t disappointed either. When I first joined ShopBack, we were housed in 3 small rooms with hardly any space to walk around. Shortly after, I assisted in moving to our Blk 71 office which was bigger, had beanbags and a table tennis table but still had no space to walk around in. I still remember having to coordinate the mobilization of the entire company (at that time 40-man strong) to manually fix together our tables and chairs that we bought from IKEA, and running around trying to fix our WiFi (or lack thereof). I even bought a table tennis table off Carousell and had it delivered by a truck. It was amazing, but it didn’t end there.
I joined ShopBack at an extremely interesting time as we were just beginning to expand our overseas offices. As Henry put it, I was “forced to bat above my league”. Whereas most hiring activity that interns undertook before me consisted of hiring mainly interns and entry-level fulltime positions, I started using various platforms and channels to headhunt key personnel from all over Southeast Asia, meeting them for one-on-one interviews every week as I flew (on budget airlines, of course) to Malaysia and Indonesia during this period. Thinking back, it seems ridiculous that a 21 year old pre-college kid was in any way qualified to talk to and evaluate some of our most important hires to lead teams overseas and locally, but under the guidance and autonomy that Henry provided, I brought in more than 25 key personnel over 5 months, including heads of some of our overseas offices, senior engineers and key marketing personnel. During this time, I also gave talks to entrepreneurs about recruitment and even managed to try my hand at elevator pitching to a VC in Jakarta – very cool stuff!
My typical week consisted of flying to Indonesia on Sunday, meeting people and working out of Starbucks in Grand Indonesia, then flying to Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday and working out of another Starbucks outlet before we finally settled in our office at Bangsar South. My most memorable experience was when I stayed in the KL airport to catch a 6am flight out, but stayed up till 4am helping Henry with his investment pitch deck and finally rushing back to Singapore to present that very deck to investors at 9am. Such was the pace we faced, and the lessons in grit, passion and persistence that I learned in ShopBack will stay with me for a long time to come.
ShopBack also instilled in me a curiosity for the world that I now carry with me everywhere I go. I found a passion in Computer Science after realizing just how interesting tech companies were, and ultimately decided to switch majors in university to pursue CS. Also, having to deal with all kinds of hires day in and day out made me very aware of the roles that engineers, marketeers, human resource personnel, salespeople, team leads, CEOs and leaders play in any organization.
Perhaps most importantly however, I gained a lifelong group of friends and an amazing mentor in the process. I always make it a point to visit the office whenever I am back in Singapore, and my personal goal is to be an entrepreneur someday and perhaps be able to live up to the crazy standards that everyone in ShopBack has set for me.
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