An interview with Emily Wong (Called to the Bar, 2017)

TSMP Associate Emily Wong shares her thoughts on what it's like working for TSMP

The term “millennial generation” is one of the biggest buzzwords this century. Everyone who bandies it about claims to know who you are better than you do yourself. How do you feel about being labelled as a millennial?

I think everyone secretly wants to be a millennial. Being labelled a “millennial” is confirmation that you are part of a club of young (or young at heart!) dynamic individuals whose headstrong nature doesn’t allow us to take no for an answer. Anti-millennials may say that we are impatient or lack the ability to focus but it is precisely our constant thirst for more that makes us seek and achieve greater heights. Our innate ability to multi-task – stemming from years of juggling Super Mario, Tamagotchi and Hot Wheels simultaneously – allows us to effectively tackle multiple problems in the same breath. In today’s day and age where you can’t escape technology, you need a millennial who recharges like your iPhone.

What are the three most important things to you in your life?

People, Purpose and Passion.

Do you think your job at TSMP is structured to fulfil those goals?

People: My love for human interaction is satisfied through two forms of interaction: with clients and with colleagues. As a first year associate at TSMP, you get to (and are expected to) interact with all sorts of clients, and to hold your own even when faced with the likes of sophisticated CEOs. TSMP understands that even when technology seems to be taking over our lives, ultimately, our value-add comes in the form of making human connection, and it is a skill that we are taught to hone from very early on. And because of TSMP’s open door policy and culture, you could find yourself as a first year-er taking call notes in a partner’s room one minute and then playing a game of football with the same partner, the next. TSMP provides the environment for partners and associates to interact outside of the office, not only through annual firm trips but also through regular charity events. 

Purpose: Instead of being given instructions in a piecemeal fashion, even as a young associate, you get assigned a file. You are given responsibility and taught from the get-go that you have to treat every file as if you are the only associate on the file. You are given the opportunity to find out why you are doing certain transactions and you get to be on a file from its inception all the way to closing.

Passion: At TSMP, the variety of work that you get exposed to is incredible. Instead of being pigeon-holed early on in your career, you really get the chance to try your hand at different transactions and deals. For example, if you know you are interested in corporate work, you could explore equity capital markets and/or mergers & acquisitions and so on, before you decide on what your passion is. TSMP celebrates individuality and recognises that everyone comes to the table with their own set of strengths that suit different areas of practice. The firm encourages you to find out where your interests lie and supports you in your personal and professional development.

Name three highlights of your work here. 

Travelling overseas for work as a trainee. I flew in to Kuala Lumpur with an associate on a Sunday evening in preparation for a big full-day negotiation meeting on Monday. I was really excited at the prospect of having a taste of that jet-setting lifestyle and also having bragging rights #traineetravels. I thought it was incredible that the firm allowed me to travel for work as a trainee and I was grateful for the opportunity to observe and learn from my seniors. Which brings me to…

My first solo meeting as an Associate. I started preparing days in advance because I was worried that I would have to navigate through potentially tricky situations. My documents were full of highlights and post-its, and my highlights had highlights and my post-its had post-its. Eventually, after a couple of hours of furious page-flipping and intense scribbling, I made it out of the meeting room in one piece (and with my dignity intact); I had a beer shortly after.

Team bonding. When the corporate department went on a rather impromptu trip to Penang over the weekend. We stayed in a beautiful mansion in Georgetown and feasted our way through Penang.  It was a great opportunity for team bonding and photos; I gained more Instagram followers and sadly also, weight. 

To survive here, what sort of superpowers do you need?

To survive at TSMP, you should aspire to be an amalgamation of three superheroines; Wonder Woman, for her strength and accelerated healing factor (your skin can never be too thick), Cat Woman, for her agility and nocturnal sharpness, and Harley Quinn, for her healthy dose of insanity and ability to laugh at herself. 

What do you do to relax after closing that big transaction/case?

A good old-fashioned session of karaoke. Nothing like screaming your lungs out in a room with captive audience to get you ready for the next deal.


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