Working in Singapore: Hilary Corna's Story


As a kid, you play Truth or Dare. The premise is simple: you either have to confess a Truth about yourself or embark on some unknown Dare. Hilary Corna would likely have chosen to do that Dare.

Hilary Corna is the author of the book One White Face, which recounts the years she spent working for Toyota in Singapore and the steps she took to getting there. She gave a talk on campus recently, entitled “Landing My Dream Job Overseas,” where she shared her personal and professional experiences with students, faculty, and staff.

She began by reviewing the specific “dares” that helped her attain this dream job in Singapore. Begun by a love of Japanese culture passed down from her mother and grandmother, she studied abroad in Japan as an undergraduate. When she returned to the United States, she knew that she wanted to return to Asia to do business.

After nine long months of extensive research and conversations with professionals in Asian business, she decided to purchase a one-way ticket to Singapore, going against the direct wishes of her family. When she was just about to give up, accept reality, and fly home, she met a man who offered her a position at Toyota Motor Asian Pacific in Singapore. Her job there involved constant travel to different Toyota dealerships all over Asia, though predominantly to India and the Philippines.

As a successful business woman herself,  Hilary discussed some of the struggles that women face in the workplace, especially on a global scale. She was one of only two women in her division at Toyota, and the only Caucasian individual--hence her book One White Face. She has also confronted the pressure to choose between working and having a family.

Beyond this, Hilary was able to offer some advice for collegiettes who may be interested in studying or working abroad in the near future. She advised those interested in doing so to research as much as they can, as, “the more you know about what you’re getting into, the better.” Open-mindedness is also an important factor, as she said that many Americans feel that the “American way” is the best way, when that isn’t necessarily the case.

She also shared some insight as to what she learned from this experience: “Frankly speaking, I think one of the best things about living abroad is that you get this beautiful new platform of life where you can pick and choose the things you like.”

Hilary’s talk was sponsored by the Damietta Cross-Cultural Center, the Sr. Thea Bowman Center for Women, the Career Center, and the School of Business.