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The Difference Between Working In A MNC And A SME

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(Image credit:
Alright team, our first task would be fixing the coffee machine so that we can stop pretending to have coffee breaks. (Image credit:

Whether if you’re a fresh graduate seeking your first job or if you’re someone who is seeking employment in an organization with a different structure, deciding among MNCs and SMEs would probably be one of the many choices that you will make in your life. There are clear distinct differences between SME’s and MNC and depending on what kind of experience that you are seeking, may just be alluring to you.


First off, what are SMEs and MNCs?


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According to, a multinational corporation (MNC) is “an enterprise operating in several countries but managed in one (home) country.” A small and medium enterprise (SME) meanwhile, generally varies from country to country in terms of their classification. According to, a SME in the United States it is “a convenient term for segmenting business and other organization that are somewhere between the small office-home office (SOHO) size and the larger enterprise” , while it is defined by the European Union as “an independent company with no more than 500 employees”.

In Malaysia, a SME in the manufacturing sector “has a turnover sales not exceeding RM50 million or full time employees not exceeding 200 workers” while a business in the service and other sectors “must either have a sales turnover not exceeding than RM20 million or full-time employees not exceeding 75 workers.” A mouthful of definition I know, but in short, MNC’s are technically the well-established giant conglomerates that operate in more than two nations and have high turnover rates such as Toyota, Pepsi, Sony, Intel and Google while SME’s are often smaller with limited assets, smaller amount of employees and are more niche and centralized in local markets.

So now that we’ve got that clear, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty to see how they defer:



It’s a no brainer which type of organization will offer you better salary. MNC’s can offer you a good steady and lucrative income while SME’s might struggle to compete what MNC’s can offer you. No competition here.


Job scope and working standards

In a MNC, your job scope is much more clearly defined and concentrated. An individual who specializes in content will strictly focus in his or her particular area and a person who is responsible in coding will concentrate on coding, this way workloads are shared as everyone will perform their specific roles efficiently and effectively. You will be surrounded by top professionals to ensure top notch standards are meet. Also, because tons of employees are executing the same role as you, competition is much more vigorous.

In a SME on the other hand, you will be required to juggle between certain roles, have to multitask and you’ll have the opportunity to explore different roles. Because you’ll most likely need to be involved in different departments such as marketing and design, your workload will unequivocally increase. On the bright side, your skills set will without a doubt broaden as you’ll know a little bit of everything. Heck, you might even discover new skills that were previously unknown to you.

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When it’s that time to work with Jane from the marketing department again. (Image credit:


Work Culture

MNCs have years and years of tried and tested operating procedures so they are already well structured and organized. Things are rationalized in black and white and justified in every manner. For example, there is a certain hierarchy of order where someone would be in charge of their respective departments and that person will also be who you’ll report to. However, because of its structure, office politics tend to be more prone.

SMEs have a more open work culture; things are not as pragmatic and certainly more informal, leading to a more close knit, cohesive and communicative group. Building interpersonal relationships in SMEs are also much easier to establish as you’ll work closely with the same team day in, day out.



Working at a well-known and prestigious multinational corporation will most definitely make you proud. Their strong brand names are well known across the world and your position within the organization is the quintessential job of what millions aspire to be. Contrary to that, SMEs are more relatively unknown and understandably, has much lesser appeal.


Career opportunities and other perks

Your chances of being hired after spending some time working at MNCs are much higher as it will boost your portfolio and CV tremendously. Let’s put it this way, would you hire someone who has previously worked at Toshiba for years or would you rather take someone who has the same number of years of experience but works for a relatively unknown organization? It’s not rocket science who will get the nod ahead.

Being as large as it is, you will have a ton of benefits working at MNCs such as access to their facilities and employee benefits. For example, if you are an employee of Singapore Airlines, you will have discounted flight tickets, have access to their facilities and you get to stay in world-class hotels, all paid by the organization!

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So this is what it feels like to have employee benefits at a MNC eh? (Image credit:

So which is better, SME or MNC?

This differs greatly from each individual; if stability, remuneration, prestige, credibility and working purely in your field matters to you, then MNCs would be more appealing to you. However if you have the mentality to learn things that are beyond your department, you don’t mind your having your remuneration diluted and if you are fine in getting your hands involved in jobs that are not in your field then SMEs will definitely benefit you in the long run. At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong career path, it’s what kind of environment and tangible factors that interest you.