From the GrabCar decals and GrabFood riders on the road to the GrabPay wobblers at the cashier, Singapore is seeing bright green at every turn — and we’re not imagining it.
Grab is Southeast Asia’s biggest ride-hailing company, and is literally what they call a “unicorn”, which is a tech start-up that’s valued at over $1 billion.
In less than 7 years, the company has expanded beyond their initial core business of ride-hailing, and broke into the food delivery, e-payments and FinTech space. They acquired their main competitor Uber Technologies (SEA) in Mar 2018, and secured US$4.5 billion of funding from investors like the SoftBank Vision Fund in their latest financing round.
With a growing team of over 3,000 employees in Singapore and 6,000 globally, Grab shows no signs of slowing down. According to a report by The Straits Times, they are aggressively expanding — opening up some 1,000 technology jobs across its research and development centres in the region.
TLDR; Grab is the hottest tech firm of the moment.
So what does it actually take to score a career at Grab?
As part of “What It Takes”, a podcast series by MoneySmart and Workforce Singapore (WSG), we chat with Grab’s Head of GrabPay, Gary Wong, for some insight on what goes on behind the scenes of the glamorous Grab.
Listen to the full podcast here:
Gary has led the GrabPay team for the past 1.5 years, and one of the his initial tasks was to hire the right team to take the Grab’s mobile payments arm to the next level. “We had so much ambition and opportunity, and we needed to hire well and hire fast,” he said.
Tapping on his vast experience in picking out talents, we ask Gary to dish the dirt on what makes an applicant stand out. In case you’re wondering — it’s not your outfit. Unlike at more traditional companies, at Grab, Gary doesn’t care so much about your shirt, tie or outward appearance at all. It’s more about your drive, attitude and values.
So if you’re pursuing a career at Grab, you better listen up: here are 3 key things to bear in mind.
1. Demonstrate your ability to work in a team instead of your “superstar” talent
It’s a very Singaporean thing to worry about our grades, qualifications, career highlights and all that other stuff we use to bedazzle our resumes. And while technical skills are no doubt important, it’s not the most important thing in the world.
Of course, if you have completely no relevant skills and aren’t at least qualified to apply for the job, then don’t say lah. But according to Gary, just because you might be the best on paper, doesn’t make you the best candidate.
Instead, the successful hires are the ones that are the best fit for the team culture and current business objectives. He likens this hiring approach to soccer, which is his off-duty passion:
“You can’t buy talent in every football team if they don’t work well together. You’ll only be successful if you manage to galvanise a group of players who can fight for each other and move together as a team.
Having the superstars doesn’t guarantee success, but having a team that is excellent together is a superstar team.”
Additionally, he adds that they want people whose core values align with the brands. So think carefully before you apply — don’t just do it because of the hype.
2. Develop these “4 Hs”
We all know how important making a good first impression is, but instead of fussing over what to wear, what’s more important is the attitude you come with. Gary keeps a lookout for those who carry themselves well, exemplifying what he calls “the 4 Hs”:
Humility: Being capable isn’t enough. You should also be humble, and have the humility to learn, which will get you very far at Grab. There are many different roles and sectors within the company, so if you’re hungry and humble enough to keep learning, you can. Gary adds that the only thing that may limit (your progress) is your learning pace.
Hunger: Grab is very fast-paced, so you’ll need to prove that you can be adaptable and sharp enough to come up with good, creative solutions to problems. You need to dare to test the boundaries and challenge norms.
Honour: To describe this quality, Gary explains, “It’s the ability to treat partners fairly, no matter big or small; to treat them with respect and do what’s best for them.” That is fundamental.
Heart to serve: Lastly, Grab is looking for people with a heart to serve and do good. You have to be motivated by how you can make an impact, and add value to what Grab provides.
“Your resume tells me your achievements, which is great. But it’s the right attitudes that make the superstar teams,” says Gary.
3. Be okay with failing, but never give up
In the same vein, Grab also values workers with grit. You can have the brightest mind and lots of talent, but without effort and perseverance, those will likely be left as wasted potential. You need to have drive and motivation, and be unafraid to fail.
This is especially critical at Grab, where they encourage cross-vertical learning. You could be in the transport team today, and be given the opportunity to work in the finance arm tomorrow. There are always new opportunities to be seized, you just need to “garang”.
“It is not how to prevent failing, because you will absolutely fail in your role. The question is how do you pick yourself up from there?” says Gary.
Grab wants people who know how to learn from their mistakes and “never say die”. Gary even goes so far as to say that failing — within a controlled environment, of course — is vital for growth. You must always shoot your shot, because if not, you don’t even give yourself the chance to succeed.
As a business, Grab does the same thing. “I think that that’s what makes Grab stand out (as an employer) as well; the way we keep coming back again and again to help solve problems even though we may fail the first time.
It gives our partners and employees confidence that we’re here to make a difference.”
Are you considering a career at tech unicorn Grab? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!