Benjamin Tan

With the continued focus to integrate ESG into Corporate Strategy & Operations, Page Executive is keen on playing our part to help draw stronger awareness within our business community by launching our latest Conversation with Social Impact Leaders online.

In every episode, we are going to invite one leader from the social impact sector (non-profit, public, social enterprise, education) to share more about his/her passion in this arena as well their advice and tips on the marketplace.

This time, Page Executive's Gabriel Nam speaks to Benjamin Tan, CEO, World Vision Singapore. Here are some of the key highlights from the conversation:

What does working for non-profit mean to you personally?

There are many different types of non-profits, ranging from trade associations to universities.

From a personal perspective, I started feeling a burden for vulnerable children over 9 years ago, when my own kids were born.

I was very focused on wanting to join a charity because I wanted to contribute directly towards causes that I care deeply about and it was why I joined World Vision.

Working in non-profit may not be for everyone but we also see that lots of senior executives want to make transition to non-profit leadership role without much luck. How do you manage to get into non-profit world back then without prior experience?

I took a year off full-time work, volunteered my time to serve on committees and a charity board.

I myself did not find it difficult to get to know people within the sector, but one does need to be genuinely committed.

The biggest hurdle by far for transitioning into the non-profit sector is unwillingness to take a financial sacrifice, as pay packages in the non-profit sector are considerably humbler than the commercial sector.

But that is actually part and parcel of giving back. Senior executives looking to transition should contact me -  because I am currently building out my leadership team!

Spending most of your career in private sector, what are the practical day-to-day challenges you face after joining this sector?

The key adjustment would be that most charities are thinly-staffed, so anyone joining from a senior private sector position will need to be prepared to do a lot of hands-on work.

One also needs to forget about the trappings of seniority  - for example, all travel is on Economy class and accommodation are usually the basic hotels. After all, our operating costs are funded by donations, which we need to be very careful and responsible in using.

Having said that, it is deeply rewarding work, and has been overwhelmingly positive for me!

Being part of the social impact sector now, what are your views on how to further build up the ecosystem in Asia?

Overall speaking, I feel that we need more strong leaders in the sector to drive it forward.

The good news is that people in recent years are generally in search of greater meaning, and the level of interest in our work has never been higher!


About World Vision
World Vision International is the largest child-focused humanitarian organisation in the world. World Vision is present in over 100 countries, and has impacted the lives of over 200 million people through tackling the root causes of poverty, as well as providing relief and aid to marginalized peoples impacted by conflict and natural disasters.

About Benjamin Tan
Benjamin Tan is the CEO of World Vision Singapore. He has worked in Beijing, Tokyo and Singapore, for organisations spanning Microsoft, Qantas Airways and Mandai Wildlife Group. Ben has successfully built and scaled businesses ranging from Series A start-ups to large organisations with a footprint of over 1000 staff in 15 countries. He joined World Vision after a 1-year sabbatical during which he was volunteering in various local charities.

About Gabriel Nam
Gabriel is the Partner of Page Executive, leading the ESG, Strategy and Transformation practice in Asia. Based in Singapore with Asia-wide coverage, Gabriel advised his clients on senior-level executive searches across industries throughout Asia. In addition, Gabriel is also an active member in conducting senior talents searches in social impact and business/professional services sectors with 15+ years of experience in research, recruitment/executive search, and leadership roles at various organizations. 

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