How do you advise an Israeli high-tech company to balance its rapid expansion plans in Singapore with compliance with industry regulations? Cynthia Tang faced this dilemma at the Singapore EDB when advising MNCs expanding in Singapore.
“Most times, the commercial stakeholders are focused on business expansion and see legal consideration as a constraint – a necessary evil. I felt it was important to understand the marriage between business and law, to see them as different sides of the same coin”
Seeking to bridge this gap, Cynthia decided to return to school to pursue a career in law.
She had graduated a few years back with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and was working in the public sector for a few years.
Today, Cynthia is Managing Partner at Tang Thomas LLC – a firm that provides seamless problem-solving client experience incorporating practice areas like dispute resolution, regulatory compliance and tax advisory.
Cynthia’s experience at the EDB and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has provided her an edge in being able to advise clients from different geographies. One of her fondest memories was when she started out her career serving as a foreign service officer in the Middle East. At that time, Singapore was enlarging its economic space in the Middle East and worked to connect Singapore enterprises to markets in the Middle East.
She added that “nobody knew how dealing with conglomerates in the Middle East was like but we looked for common ground and built our strategy from there. I learnt that often, strategy does not come “inspired” but is pieced together like a puzzle through many rounds of trial and error.”
This problem-solving mindset put her in good stead when she started her legal career as a corporate and M&A lawyer at a leading regional law firm. As part of her work dealing with cross-border transactions, Cynthia found herself negotiating with lawyers of different jurisdictions and dealing with different “problem-solving language”.
For instance, when negotiating with lawyers from Japan, she quickly realized that “Japanese lawyers are generally very respectful and may not decline you outright. Even if they disagree with a particular clause, they may not tell you directly. Instead, they will “take it back to their stakeholders”, which, between the lines means, they are unwilling to accept the clause. At that juncture, you must offer to address any concern they have.”
The experience Cynthia gained in working with Japanese clients proved fruitful, as it led her to successfully negotiate what she regards as one of her most memorable transactions to date – a research collaboration on personalized medicine with the research team headed by Nobel laureate Professor Tasuku Honjo of Kyoto University.
Cynthia was deputy head of legal in a European pharmaceutical MNC and found the experience of working alongside scientific luminaries gratifying and deeply humbling. She saw how groundbreaking advances in the field of personalized medicine can turn what was previously gold standard treatments on its head and significantly improve patient outcomes. She brings this specialization to Tang Thomas LLC and regularly advises clients in the pharmaceutical industry in Singapore.
Cynthia said that setting up Tang Thomas was the biggest risk she took in her professional career, particularly setting up a new law firm during the pandemic. She found herself tapping on her own experience as a business owner to understand the pain points faced by SMEs and she takes on her clients’ issues as her own.
While it was not an easy decision to set up a new firm, Cynthia found herself being rewarded by the trust of clients who have relied on her and her team to navigate challenging issues during the pandemic. It is this trust which energizes her to build Tang Thomas into a trusted brand for SMEs in Singapore and the region.
Cynthia brings more than 15 years of experience advising multinational corporations, government authorities and high-net worth individuals spanning Southeast Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
Link to Cynthia’s profile: https://www.tangthomas.com/cynthia-tang
This article does not constitute legal advice or a legal opinion on any matter discussed and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and practice in this area. If you require any advice or information, please speak to a practicing lawyer in your jurisdiction. No individual who is a member, partner, shareholder or consultant of, in or to any constituent part of Interstellar Group Pte. Ltd. accepts or assumes responsibility, or has any liability, to any person in respect of this article.