Going Above and Beyond: From Management Associate to Head of Department

great eastern calvin poon feature image

Meet Calvin Poon, one of the youngest Head of Departments in Great Eastern Malaysia, who is currently leading the Product Pricing team of the largest and most established life insurer in the country.

After graduating from the National University of Singapore (NUS) with a joint degree in Economics and Actuarial Science, Calvin joined Great Eastern as a Management Associate (formerly known as the Management Trainee Programme) and found himself spearheading a team of 17 people 8 years later.

In this article, Calvin shares with us how his experience as a Management Associate accelerated his career journey in the corporate world, as well as the valuable lessons he learned along the way.

1. The MA Programme unlocked my full potential through functional rotations and holistic development initiatives

calvin poon great eastern table discussion

I consider myself quite fortunate to have started my journey as a Management Associate in Great Eastern Malaysia. The programme is designed to help young graduates fast-track their career by accelerating their learning curve so that they can achieve greater milestones within a shorter period of time. Among the many components of the MA programme, I would say that job rotation is the most valuable experience because it contributed significantly to my career development.

Throughout the 2-year programme, I rotated across multiple departments which include Investment, Marketing & Customer Management, Bancassurance, and Actuarial. This wide functional exposure enabled me to see different aspects of the life insurance business so that I acquired a more holistic view by the end of the programme. Not only that, I was given numerous opportunities to build my rapport within the company as Management Associates organise a number of company-wide projects and are coached and mentored by the senior leaders of the organisation. In turn, it gave me the competitive edge I needed to get to where I am today.

What was also important to me in my journey towards being Head of Product Pricing was the ability to pursue my professional qualifications. At Great Eastern, there is an Education Assistance Programme that helps aspiring actuaries take their career to the next level and through various educational supports, I was able to undertake all my professional exams and subsequently became a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries (SOA), which greatly contributed to my career development.

 

2. The MA Programme provided me with leadership opportunities and the platform to grow as a young professional

Something I particularly enjoyed during my time as a Management Associate was the opportunity to deal with various stakeholders such as regulators, customers, colleagues, and even senior leaders. In any role, you will be faced with different stakeholders who all have different expectations, and I learned that what is crucial is the ability to strike a balance in the decisions that you make because at the end of the day, we all have a common objective. Stakeholder management is a challenge to any fresh graduate, but mastering this skill will truly help differentiate you from your peers.

After I completed my rotations, I moved to the Product Pricing team where I was given the golden opportunity to lead a small team as a manager. We were tasked to price products for the Bancassurance distribution channel, and it is through this role that I was able to sharpen my leadership skills and discover my true potential. Being a young manager often comes with a steep learning curve and there are times when mistakes happen which you need to be accountable for. The key here is resilience; mistakes help you learn and grow, so it’s important to keep on going.

 

3. Great Eastern’s challenging environment inspired me to achieve my professional ambitions and strive for greater heights

calvin poon great eastern formal shot

Ultimately, what’s great about working at Great Eastern is that I am surrounded by highly motivated individuals who are all working towards a common goal, which is to make life great for our customers and community by providing financial security.

The insurance industry can be extremely dynamic because regulations and customer demands are constantly changing, and we are always challenged to innovate our business model and product offerings in order to stay number one in the market. Because of these changes, I believe my journey here has truly moulded me into a resilient and agile professional.

 

Inspired by Calvin’s story? Learn more about the opportunities available at Great Eastern Malaysia.

As part of the Great Eastern team, you will be making a difference the moment you walk through the door. If you’re looking to kick-start your career like Calvin’s, learn more about the exciting career opportunities at Great Eastern here.

 

Related: 5 Reasons to Kick-start Your Career at Malaysia’s Leading Life Insurance Company

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