showSidebars ==
showTitleBreadcrumbs == 1
node.field_disable_title_breadcrumbs.value ==

GII Feature: Adam Afiq

Thursday Jul 29,2021 | IIE News


Adam Afiq was a First Mile Associate at Ninja Van in Bangkok, Thailand in 2019. He is currently an Operations Analyst at Goldman Sachs. Read on to find out about his GII experience!

Hey guys, I’m Adam and I'm extremely passionate about how businesses and start-ups operate in different markets and in understanding the differences in operations due to culture, norms and value differences. I’ve always been keen on living and working overseas and when GII-2019 came along, I felt that it was an opportunity not to be missed!


What are some important skills/ mindsets that are important in an overseas internship?

In my opinion, the most important mindset that anyone needs while embarking on an overseas internship would be open-mindedness. Being a first foreign intern in a Thai company where the business language it Thai, navigating around my roles and responsibilities and around the office was initially uncomfortable. 


Tell us about the country you went to:  was it difficult navigating through your internship (due to market nuances, cultures, traditions)? 

More often than not, I had a rather lonely journey. I really wanted to get to know my colleagues whom I see everyday and connect with them on a more personal level. The language barrier was truly a hurdle. But it was one I was determined to overcome as I wanted to make my summer count and it was also a personal goal to pick up a new language in a market that still uses it widely.

“If I don’t do it here (in Thailand), I wouldn’t be able to do it anywhere else”
”Speak, Get Corrected, Learn, Move On”.

These were personal reminders to keep pushing and practicing conversational Thai everyday. I was heartened by the positive responses of native Thai speakers who appreciated the efforts of a foreigner learning their language despite the broken grammar or incorrect pronunciation. 



Tell us about your company & the industry: what was it like working in a startup and what was your job scope on a day-to-day basis?

I was brought on to the company to assist on a project where it requires consolidation of several distribution points into a central location. This project was different as it required the alignment of different departments and also the frontline drivers. Essentially, I was assuming a ‘project manager’ role where reporting and monitoring of the project deliverables while ensuring that Driver productivity was maintained. Being in a startup environment, there were days where I was in the office planning to execute future deliverables with my Thai manager and others, I would head down to the warehouse to ensure that operations were in order and that staff was aware of their new roles and responsibilities.


Tell us about your GII experience

The toughest thing I had to do was to give/enforce instructions (to take on more work) to contract drivers who had their own interest at heart. I had to be cautious so that I don’t come off offensive but at the same time had to be firm. Let’s just say I came out of that situation knowing I have a lot more to learn about being an effective, efficient manager.

The most memorable thing for me was at the end of my internship when I truly felt that I was a part of the operations department, being able to share jokes and personal stories through our broken English, Thai and the help of Google translate. It was a feat to be able to connect despite a little language barrier. Reflecting back, it was really a magical journey navigating through uncertainties and coming out of it with ex-colleagues whom I now call friends.



Tell us about a key takeaway you had from GII

My biggest takeaway would be the ’magic’ of language and communication. In Singapore, we’re a bilingual society where we speak English and our Mother Tongues (usually Malay, Mandarin or Tamil). I’m guilty of neglecting my mother tongue and feel that English is the only way to go in this increasingly globalized society. I’m also guilty of being ignorant to the power of communication in a language other than English. I’ve realized that there are certain feelings and emotions that are more genuine when speaking to a person in their native language - “you’d be speaking to their heart”. I also note that sometimes “people speak the same language but don’t understand each other while others don’t speak the same language but understand each other perfectly”. Since then, I’ve developed a new found love and interests in languages where I hope to be able to communicate better in the markets I aspire to work with - Southeast Asia. 


Build your network and get plugged into our community of 10,000+ startups, innovators, student founders and tech gurus by subscribing to our e-newsletter!