“CEO is too young and inexperienced”, says former employee at Business China on Glassdoor

Yesterday (15 Feb), TOC reported that several People’s Action Party Members of Parliament served as Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of Business China,  a non-profit organization (NPO) registered in Singapore, presumably paid in the range of S$200,000 to S$300,000 annually.

Business China was officially launched on 19 November 2007 by former Prime Minister late Lee Kuan Yew and then-China Premier Wen Jia Bao, currently filled with members of the Singapore ruling party on its board of directors.

Spearheaded by the Singapore government and the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI), the entity aims to “harnesses the support of public sector and private enterprises” to cultivate Singapore-China-savvy talents, “strengthen Singapore-China networks” and to “grow the global connectivity of Singapore”.

Given the lofty ambition of the NPO and the generous salaries for the senior management, one might assume the organisation has a clear direction for its development and activities, creating a competitive yet healthy work culture.

However, reviews on the job search platform Glassdoor have raised concerns about the organization’s direction and work culture, painting a different picture from what some would envision it to be.

Former employee says Business China’s management “have no directions or leadership skills to run the organisation”

A former employee rated Business China with only one star, commenting that while working there, work-life balance was good, and the scope of work was manageable. However, the employee warned that there were “many incompetent superiors.”

“Whole working environment is uninspiring and you just feel that you are wasting your life away.”

“Downhill since 2015”

Another former employee who worked for more than one year at Business China claimed that the entity had gone “downhill since 2015”.

“Not for people who want to do real work”, the review wrote, ” since the management have no directions or leadership skills required to run the organization.”

The former employee added that for junior staff, the pay is below the market rate with minimal increments, “Income gap between junior staffs and management is enormous.”

This might be evident from the annual report, which notes that the senior management earns S$100,000-S$200,000 annually, other than the CEO, who earns S$200,000 to S$300,000 a year.

The review also mentioned how the top management changes almost every two years, and Business China “tends to scout highly paid yet incapable mid-management, who loves to take credit for their subordinates’ work. When anything goes wrong, it’s all the minions’ fault.”

“CEO changes every two years”

The other review recommended Business China for those who are keen to do something in China and would like to develop their market access and networks.

On the cons side, the reviewer wrote that the workload is pretty heavy for an NPO while pay is relatively poorly, and there is a lack of continuity of leadership as the CEO changes every two years.

“CEO is too young and inexperienced”

One former employee who worked for Business China for more than three years mentioned that the CEO is”too young and inexperienced to steer organisation in a focused manner”, and added that the CEO was “more concerned about proving herself, showing off”.

The comment might have been alluding to Ms Tin Peiling, PAP Member of Parliament for MacPherson SMC, who was appointed as CEO of Business China on 21 May 2018 till she left at the end of 2022.

A current employee of the organization also expressed a similar sentiment on Glassdoor, stating that the leadership in Business China is inexperienced.

Ms Tin, in an interview with Mothership, said, “I think, of course, as compared to the previous CEO, I do not really have any actual experience working or living in China. This is a fact.

But I do have an interest in both Chinese culture and the development that is taking place in China now. And I believe that this will help me when it comes to developing trade relations with China.”

However, given how Ms Tin was immediately offered a replacement position as the Director of Corporate Development at Grab after the position of Public Affairs and Policy was rescinded due to the public outcry, any suggestion of her being too young and inexperienced is perhaps unsubstantiated.


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