Authors: Chanthevivanh Keobounphanh, Advisor to Strategy and Coordination Group (SCG)

I joined AMRO’s Strategy and Coordination team for a one-year secondment program—extended from an initial period of six months—in June 2022.

I first heard of AMRO on my first day at the Bank of the Lao PDR (BOL), my parent organization, in November 2012. Subsequently, I became involved in AMRO matters from 2017 until 2018, and became aware of the AMRO Secondment Program through colleagues who had participated in the program. I had witnessed my colleagues’ career growth, especially sharpening skills in macroeconomics and analysis, and most importantly, expanding personal connections with many people from different countries and cultures. These factors inspired me to join the AMRO Secondment Program.

Returning to Singapore, where I spent two years as an ASEAN scholar during my secondary school days, was a dream come true. Not only is this opportunity my first on-the-job training experience in an international organization, it is also a homecoming to a place where I had spent part of my youth and built many friendships with people from across ASEAN.

When I first stepped into the MAS Building where AMRO is located, I was very nervous as this would be my first time working with an international organization outside Lao PDR. I also felt anxious about the new work environment and new colleagues and wondered whether I would be able to cope with the work and challenges that lie ahead. The warm welcome I received from AMRO colleagues not only allayed my concerns, but also brought back fond memories of my time as a freshman when I first came to Singapore to study, and my newbie days at the BOL and other workplaces, which I found reassuring.

My five months as a secondee has so far been very fruitful. I was fortunate to be placed in several AMRO core teams, including the Strategy and Coordination Group, Surveillance Group (Lao PDR team) and CMIM Support Group, allowing me to gain invaluable knowledge and working experience. I took part in and supported key activities such as the regular ASEAN+3 Task Force meetings, the inaugural ASEAN+3 Economic Cooperation and Financial Stability Forum and the Lao PDR interim mission. I also contributed to blogs and writing of notes related to Lao’s economic development and other issues of concern.

Thanks to the strong support from my team colleagues, I was able to adapt quickly to the new working environment and become familiarized with my tasks faster.

As a Lao secondee, I am impressed with AMRO’s corporate culture and infrastructure—systemic, professional working style; modernized, well-linked IT system; and goals-oriented work environment that supports capacity building of all staff and their mental and physical wellness.

AMRO also has a positive workplace culture that provides encouragement and support through kind words. For instance, before the first phase of my secondment came to an end, I approached one of my supervisors to discuss my needs and AMRO’s expectations, expecting to strengthen my macroeconomic skillsets, apart from learning about the preparation for the ASEAN+3 Co-chairmanship. To my surprise, a Financial Programming Training was specially organized to cater to my needs despite my colleagues’ tight schedules. Gestures such as this motivate me to work harder, seize more opportunities to glean expertise in various areas from AMRO colleagues, and further deepen and enhance my understanding of financial cooperation with ASEAN+3 member economies and authorities.

Besides work, I also have opportunities to develop friendships with AMRO staff and secondees from other ASEAN+3 member authorities. For instance, I went hiking with the Cambodian, Burmese and Vietnamese secondees, among other leisure activities with my AMRO colleagues-turned-friends. Over the past few months, my AMRO friends have given me emotional and mental support to handle both work and personal issues. To me, AMRO is no longer simply a workplace, but my family in Singapore. My journey in AMRO has just begun and I look forward to more exciting experiences in the second phase of my secondment at my second home!