Hopscotch Hotshots in January: Caroline Craggs
5-min read. This month, our Hopscotch Hotshot is Caroline Craggs, a strong and independent woman who is not only learning and developing in her role at the Scottish Development International, but quite enjoying this opportunity. Here’s what she has to say about how Hopscotch helped her find a job she was looking for.
Early days in Asia
I moved to Singapore two-and-a-half years ago with my husband and our two children, now 3 and 5. However, this wasn’t my first experience of Asia. I was born and grew up in Hong Kong and it had been instilled in me by my parents as well as the culture around me that if you work hard anything is possible. I landed my first job when I was 15 years old, and I have always worked since. This independence was very important to me, as well as the growth, experience and learning I got from it.
Working since I was 15!
I have spent the last 15 years in FMCG, across supply chain, category management and account management, working with some of the biggest brands in the world as well as a niche entrepreneurial start-up in premium organic. More recently, I moved to the consumer electronics sector, working for a leading global health-tech business.
At the time my husband was offered his job here in Singapore, I was returning to work after maternity leave. I had never not worked since the age of 15 so this was a big step for me – to move to a country where I had no network or connections and needed a permit to be able to work. It was a scary prospect.
I was actively looking for around three months after I got my CV and LinkedIn up-to-date. Time was ticking and whenever I asked for feedback, I got the usual responses such as, you don’t have a PR or a work permit, or you don’t have account management or sales experience in Asia. After about a month I got called for an initial interview with a company I dearly wanted to work for. I was out of practice, but I was quite passionate and genuine in my reasons for wanting to join them. I made it to the second interview and got the balance wrong on the prep for the interview – not relating specific examples of what I’d done previously to how this would help me do the job well that I was applying for. I know it’s the basics, but I got so focused on the things I thought I didn’t know, that I forgot about all the great things I did know. And an interview is the only chance you have to get this across. This was a real wake up call for me as it was the first time in 15 years that I had applied for a job and not got it.
Landing my first role in Singapore with Hopscotch!
Hopscotch turned out to be a great source of information, advice, guidance and support for me during this time, as I was returning to work after a 3-year-gap. It helped me to connect with people and build a network, learn through the many events they ran and ultimately find a job! The companies they work with understand the value they add in helping attract experienced professionals trying to get back into the workplace, and this connection saves a lot of time. The time taken between my initial application on Hopscotch (for the two-month British High Commission contract role) to being employed and being at my desk was just one month. This, I know, is unusual here, but I’m sure it’s because they are matching the right candidates to the right roles, and most importantly, with companies who are forward-thinking enough to realise the value that this group of highly educated, incredibly experienced, reliable and motivated candidates can add.
The short-term role with the Department for International Trade led me to find a 12-month maternity contract in the BHC. I am now working for the Scottish Development International (SDI) as Food and Drink Specialist for South-East Asia covering Singapore, Thailand, and scoping out Indonesia and Vietnam. My role, in a nutshell, is to boost exports of Scottish food and drink into the markets I look after, working closely with a broad range of key stakeholders in the region as well as back in Scotland. It’s a fascinating, fast-moving, varied position with exposure to some exciting opportunities. In the last two weeks alone, I have, apart from my day job, attended a lecture on ‘Britain’s Role in a Post-Brexit World’ given by the Foreign Secretary – Jeremy Hunt, had the opportunity to meet him for questions afterwards, researched and written a brief for our initial scoping visits to Indonesia and Vietnam and organised meetings for Scottish companies to meet with buyers here who are interested in ranging their products. We have half a dozen key events we are working on over the next six months and, as part of my learning and development within the High Commission, I have joined the security team as part of the crisis management project. I think it’s safe to say I’m learning and developing by the day! I love it!
For women who are looking to find work, probably the hardest thing to do is be clear about what you want and keep working towards it. Talk to as many people as possible! Some of the best connections are made in the most unlikely of places. Sell yourself and what you can do, for no one is better or more invested in this than you. Most importantly, don’t doubt yourself. If things are not working try and find a different route and if you haven’t already, then I would definitely recommend giving Hopscotch a try.
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