Industry Highlights: Alumni in Banking

4 February 2022
Kelvin Tan - StanChart-Interview-
Kelvin Tan,
Bachelor of Arts in Politics and International Studies 2003

The Industry Highlights series feature fellow alumni on a journey of their careers in various industries, sectors, and stories behind the scene. Find out more about our growing domestic and international community of over 70,000 Alumni through unique stories and experiences.

Murdoch Singapore alumnus Kelvin found his place in the unconventional side of banking.

With over 10 years of work experience in the banking industry, Kelvin shares some insights on the industry and how digitalization over the years impact his job role…

What did you study at Murdoch? What do you do now?

I did my B.A. in Politics and International Studies and Mass Communications. I am now the Global Head for nexus – the Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS) business for Standard Chartered Bank.

What do you think is Murdoch’s point of difference compared with other universities?

Murdoch’s liberal and student-centric approach really provided me with a great platform to develop my intellectual approach to all issues. The great lecturers that mentored me – Dr Garry Rodan, Dr Ian Cook and Dr Terence Tan – were also instrumental in my development at a young age.

What motivates you at work, especially while working on your career progression in the same organization over the year?

My professional motivation comes from solving the real thorny problems that most people go out of their way to avoid as they usually have no short term payout. For example, BaaS is in its infancy and is a possible solution for scale in banking but there are so many risk and compliance issues to review and resolve.

What drew you to work in the Banking sector? Any particular intriguing experiences you would like to share?

As above, it was because it was not something that I was used to and thought it would be a real challenge to try to get familiar with the industry. After Murdoch, I went to the University of Chicago for my M.A. in International Relations.

My approach of continually taking up left-field challenges landed me in  Indonesia for the first time, with OCBC for setting a greenfield consumer finance business, and Thailand with Deutsche for consulting a large FMCG firm. And finally, in my current role where I spend time in quite a few markets, particularly in Indonesia, to source partners, management and regulatory engagement. These are all breakthrough experiences for me.

What have been some of the big changes in your line of work given the COVID-19 threat?

As the matter of fact, not much changed. My workplace dynamics and the nexus team was already fully agile and could work from pretty much anywhere they want to. We manage by performance and outcomes, not process and facetime.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?

Solve for happiness – everything else is secondary.

Who inspires you?

A few of my previous bosses for various good reasons – TS Anil and Farooq Siddiqi for their people management skills, Chris de Bruin for his directness, Tyrone Almeida for his ability to have fun even while at work. On a personal level, my parents – for always striving against the odds to ensure that the family is provided for.


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