Having worked for Double Negative, one of the world’s largest providers of visual effects for films, for a few years, Amit Narwani, 28, was told that the company was closing its Singapore office. Having very niche key expertise in match moving processes for Hollywood films, Amit did not have many options to utilise his knowledge and talent within Singapore. He had also never explored working outside of the country, this left him with a big worry over his future.
Just before his company closed shop, he was interviewed for a possible overseas position. The company then left without giving him a definitive response on the application. Left to fend on his own, Amit explored several job opportunities in sales and marketing
We speak to Amit to find out more about how he was able to differentiate himself by earning a subsequent call back and re-employment by his former company to take him to their Vancouver operations.
We think his story can help other Singaporeans understand how they can stand out in their workplace and keep optimistic even when they find themselves out of a job.
Hi Amit, thank you for agreeing to do this interview with us. We have several questions which we hope can help encourage other people in Singapore in the adverse situations of being retrenched or made redundant.
DollarsAndSense (DNS): Why did your employer leave the Singapore market?
Amit (A): I think it was because it didn’t make sense for them to continue in Singapore after they opened up a new branch in India where they could find ample talent that could replace the work they were doing in Singapore at possibly a lower cost.
DNS: Was the Singapore office closure something everyone was expecting after the opening of its new branch in India? Or was it a very sudden situation?
A: Although there was nothing said officially, there was a sense that it may happen when they announced that they had merged with an Indian company. True enough, it did happen 8 months later.
DNS: What did you do in the lead up to your final days in the office to prepare yourself for life after the official closure?
A: It was a scramble for sure. Everyone had to ensure we could put food on the table for ourselves and our families after we lost our current jobs.
Everyone was job hunting, but there are limited opportunities in Singapore, especially in the visual effects industry. Actually, it was very common for many of us to look for overseas opportunities. Given the bleak outlook for us continuing in the same field of work, a large number of us were very open to looking at entirely unchartered sectors that we have no experience in.
DNS: You were eventually offered a position overseas by the company. Why do you think your company decided to offer you this post? What skills were they looking for?
A: I had built up core expertise in certain areas that they were looking to expand into. In my work in the initial phase in Singapore, I was able to take on leadership roles to lead project teams. I guess overall I was a good match (mover), pardon the pun, for what they were looking for – experience and leadership; strong core technical knowledge; and problem solving skills.
DNS: Was taking the job a no-brainer decision for you? Or did you have to really question whether working overseas was something you wanted?
A: Definitely, I asked myself that question many times. I was constantly weighing the pros and cons, and whether it would be worth it in the long term.
But I took the plunge because I didn’t see another opportunity to do what I love coming by in Singapore any time soon again. Also, this job allowed me to pursue several other things I’ve always thought of doing, such as exploring the world and living independently.
DNS: You definitely stood out for several reasons at your previous workplace, which probably led to your company taking you with them to work in their Canada office. What do you think other people can do to ensure they too stand out at work and have the best chance for re-employment if they are put in such a similar situation – which is finding themselves looking for a job through no fault of their own?
A: Everything I can say, everyone has probably heard it too.
But when you find yourself in such a situation, things change. You have to keep trying your best and be optimistic. Be the best you can be. You’ll end up applying for 100 jobs and get a response from 1. Never give up and eventually, your calling will come too.
DNS: What do you think this experience will add to you as an employee?
A: I’ve learned and done so much more than I would have if I’d stayed in Singapore. I was also given a promotion to come to Vancouver, so that will help tremendously if I was ever put in a situation where I find myself having to land another job.
Apart from that, I think this episode has strengthened me as a person, and it will definitely be a boon in performing my job to the best I can.
DNS: What has been the biggest challenge and reward working overseas?
A: I think the biggest challenges and rewards have come in my personal life.
Being independent. After living with family all my life in Singapore, learning to be on my own, managing my own expenses, doing my own laundry, being responsible, is all really tough, but I’m glad I’m getting to do it because it’s an eye-opener and makes me feel proud of my own actions and accomplishments.
It’s also tough leaving the people I love in Singapore but I get to explore a new country, new culture, meet new people.
DNS: I’m sure your family and friends ask you whether you will ever come back. Will you?
A: I definitely would. But i wouldn’t know if it would be forever. If I had a job offer I couldn’t refuse, probably, or maybe for family’s sake.
But right now, I’m happy to be on this adventure, working on new things and exploring new ideas all the time. On a personal level, I feel like I’m building character, being more responsible and exposing myself to wider world views.
Honestly, I can’t ask for much more at this stage of my life. I feel extremely fortunate and thankful for the current opportunity I have.
Thank you for being part of this interview. I’m sure our readers will gain from the insights and experiences you have gone through.
How To Make Yourself More Employable
What made Amit a great candidate for the company to take with them when they went overseas was that he had good knowledge of how the company worked, the relevant skill sets that they required and best of all, could contribute right away as they look to fill roles that had been cut in their other offices.
To his employers, he was able to set himself apart by constantly working to upskill himself on the job and had the initiative to take on leadership roles even when he wasn’t required to.
When companies close offices in certain regions, they often have to distribute some of the work that office was handling to its remaining offices around the world. Equipping yourself to fulfil these requirements is one of the first things employees should work toward. You should also look to upgrade your skills on and off the job to be able to contribute more. Lastly, having the initiative and determination to succeed is vital. You should strive to take on more responsibilities and deliver better quality work to make yourself indispensable to your employers.
Amit is still doing this today by gaining overseas experience, working on larger projects, taking on managerial roles and so much more. His experience provides us a perspective that even when retrenchment do hit us, we must continue to stay positive and persevere to the best of our abilities.
Follow Amit Narwani on his journey in Vancouver via his Instagram page.
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Top Image Credit: Amit Narwani Facebook