Ethan Lee came to Capgemini in October 2019 through the graduate program in Singapore. Here, he shares his journey, which includes a stint in the military and a passion for socks, and explains how he has been encouraged to find his own route
It’s your first day on the graduate program at Capgemini Singapore. Thanks to your military service, you arrive early and sit in reception glancing down at your socks. These are not just ordinary socks: these are lucky socks you’ve designed yourself.
At last, you’re brought into the office and wait nervously to be introduced to your new colleagues. And one of the first people you meet is none other than… Gaurav Modi, chief executive officer of South East Asia & Hong Kong, the most senior Capgemini employee in the region!
This is exactly what happened to Ethan Lee when he joined the program in October 2019, after finishing his degree from the University of Buffalo, New York, where he majored in economics.
A surprising first day
“We were really shocked,” says Ethan.
“It’s the last thing you expect. I found it amazing that from the start we were face to face with someone who actually ran the company.”
While at university, Ethan completed several internships before deciding consultancy was the right career for him. A happy coincidence led him to an advert for Capgemini Singapore’s graduate program on LinkedIn. He applied and, after a few rounds of interviews, was offered a place.
Encouraging fresh thinking
Meeting a senior manager on his first day made a big impression on Ethan, one that has stayed with him ever since. “Right away, Gaurav made us realize we don’t have to be fearful of our superiors. He portrayed an environment that encourages fresh thinking and new ideas, and a company that would help us grow into the people we wanted to be.”
According to Ethan, who came to Capgemini without much experience of IT, this message really resonated with him. “To me, it meant that despite my lower level of technical knowledge, my ideas, my solutions and even my thought processes when approaching a project were valuable.”
Choosing your own path
An encouragement to find one’s own unique path is a theme that Ethan has experienced again and again throughout his ten months at the company. “At every stage, I’ve felt free to choose what I want to do. Our graduate program lead asked us individually what we wanted to get from the scheme. I asked to be involved in a project because, from my internships, I knew this is a great way to get experience.”
Ethan joined a project involving the implementation of Coupa – a business spending management platform – for a global luxury retailer group that operates in 14 countries worldwide and has more than 200 users.
An officer and a sock designer
Ethan was able to draw on his experience of being a commissioned signals officer in the Singapore Armed Forces. “In Singapore, all young men are conscripted for national service for two years, and I led a team responsible for network maintenance and restructuring. It gave me confidence, and skills in convincing others in my peer group to see my point of view.”
At university, Ethan also explored his artistic side in the form of abstract doodles. In 2018, he set up an online business to sell socks featuring the designs, mainly to friends and classmates. “I designed the socks myself, and found a supplier and manufacturer. Although I’ve put the business on hold since I started working full-time, I would love to resume it at some point to see where it leads.”
Sock design may not be a widely shared interest among Capgemini graduates, but whatever their background many share a sense of creativity and adventure – knowing that they are starting out in a career, and looking forward to seeing “where it leads”.