On a sunny Saturday on 30 October 2021, 17 alumni members participated in the last of the popular three-part #ExperienceCoaching series, organised by NUS Business School Alumni Association (NUSBSA). The event was held in partnership with the International Coaching Federation (ICF) Singapore Chapter to enable NUSBSA members the opportunity to get up close and personal with the power and benefits of coaching.

The morning started with a warm welcome by Ms Gracelyn Ho (Business ’87), Chairperson of NUSBSA Career Panel Advisory and Ms Catherine Chai (Business ‘92), Vice-President of NUSBSA. This was followed by Ms Amily Ang, Director of Partnerships of ICF Singapore, who shared the differences between coaching, mentoring, counselling, training, and how coaching can inspire individuals to maximise their potential in the short and long term. The participants then split into breakout rooms where they experienced 45 minutes of 1-on-1 coaching sessions with their pre-matched, accredited ICF coaches. Participants were enthused, giving feedback that the coaching sessions were “thought provoking”, “highlighted many blind spots”, “made sense of the chaos” and went “beyond the solutions”.

The networking session that followed were well attended and participants were reluctant to leave as the event came to a close. It was not surprising that the post-event feedback was mostly ranked 9 or 10 out of 10, and many indicated their interest for a longer session for the 2022 Series – which will be starting in March 2022.

Submitted by Ms Catherine Chai (Business ’92)

Kent Ridge Hall Mentorship Program: Connecting the Past and Present

19 October marked the third edition of Kent Ridge Hall’s (KRH) mentorship program. This initiative was created back in 2018, with the aim of connecting KRH’s beloved alumni with current residents by engaging them as mentors.

In view of the COVID-19 situation and the ensuing restrictions, KRH decided to bring this event online and host it via Zoom. Five mentors were invited to share their various areas of expertise, careers and industries as well as their experience and journey during their stay in KRH. The event mirrored an online career fair, where mentors each had their own breakout room and residents were free to join and listen to whichever mentor they were keen to hear from.

 It was a delightful evening, with familiar faces sharing their career experiences and reminiscing their times in KRH. Current residents were all ears listening to the intriguing stories and having genuine conversations with the mentors, some even keeping in touch with them after the event concluded.

One of the mentors, Ms Renee Leong (Arts and Social Sciences ’21) shared her thoughts on this year’s program, “I was honoured to be invited back as a mentor as I had attended one of these programs in the past and felt that it was really interesting! I believe that the Social Relations Unit's (SRU) mentorship program provides a wealth of insights and opportunities to network. It was quite a chill and well run event and I hope that the residents enjoyed it as much as I did!”

“It was tough having to conduct this program on Zoom as it removes the human interaction element prevalent in a mentorship program. However, we felt that it was an extremely beneficial and meaningful initiative for both the mentors and the residents. Thankfully, the turnout was good and the feedback was positive as well! Hopefully this will serve as a stepping stone for future alumni related initiatives for KRH!”, said Ms Pu Yu Qing, Vice-Chairperson of the SRU and Year 2 student from Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

Ultimately, this was a small initiative to help strengthen the bond between the different generations of Kent Ridgeans and the organisers are hopeful that the success of this program will inspire more mentors to volunteer their time back to KRH!

Submitted by Dr Rosalind Siah (Medicine ’16), Associate Director for Alumni Relations, Kent Ridge Hall Alumni and Mr Howe Lee,Year 4 Business, KRH Resident 

Environmental Champion Receives President’s Award for the Environment 2021

Congratulations to Mr Joseph Koh (Science ‘72), who was recently awarded the President’s Award for the Environment (PAE) (2021). The PAE is Singapore’s highest accolade for individuals, organisations and educational institutions that have made significant contributions towards environmental sustainability in Singapore.

This award is just the icing on the cake of Mr Koh’s lifetime achievements in biodiversity research, nature conservation, and other contributions to NUS and Singapore. Over the years, Mr Koh has continued to maintain close links with the NUS Department of Biological Sciences, encouraging and strengthening NUS’ biodiversity research ties with scientists from universities and research institutions abroad while he was Singapore’s High Commissioner in Australia and Brunei.

Mr Koh spent decades studying spiders and published many scientific papers and identification guides on Singapore and Borneo spiders. He was part of a core research group that contributed to the Comprehensive Biodiversity Survey of the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve from 2014 to 2018. He continues to devote time to pass on his skills and knowledge to young people with a passion for spiders.

With the help of the many young arachnologists who he has nurtured, Mr Koh has recorded more than 800 species of spiders in Singapore. He also pledged his entire lifetime collection of over 12,000 spider specimens to the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM).

Mr Koh also worked with Professor Peter Ng (Science ’84), Head of LKCNHM to raise funds for two scholarships named after their mentor in zoology, the late Professor Dennis Hugh Murphy. This initiative is part of Mr Koh’s effort to groom young and passionate advocates for nature conservation. He also made a personal donation and rallied others to do the same for the “Jubilee Whale” display at the LKCNHM, which was launched in 2016.

As Chairman of the “Friends of Bukit Timah Forest” community group, Mr Koh played a key role in publicising the rich biodiversity in the forest ecosystem with Bukit Timah Nature Reserve as its core, and in developing a network of partnerships to involve more Singaporeans to protect, restore and enjoy the forest.

Under his leadership as its former Chairman, and currently Senior Advisor, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)-Singapore has forged important partnerships with non-government organisations, the business community, and government agencies. For instance, WWF Singapore has started to collaborate with the National Parks Board (NParks) to combat illegal wildlife trade, and garner public support for NParks’ species recovery programme. 

At the heart of Mr Koh’s lifetime achievements is a simple idealism. He mentions, “I hope my story will ignite the passion of our younger generation in everything they do and inspire them to play an activist role in contributing to nature conservation and environmental sustainability.”

He added, “Together, we should continue our “whole-of-society” approach to add a Bright Green Spark to that Little Red Dot: a role model for other urban centres and a new source of pride to be a Singaporean.”

Find out more about his environmental work here

Submitted by Mr Steven Tan, Department of Biological Sciences.

Future Career Quest 2021

The NUS Business School Alumni Association (NUSBSA) Accountancy Wing, in partnership with NUS BizAd Accountancy Network (BAN), organised the first-ever Future Career Quest on 7 October 2021. Pivoting from the typical networking night held physically at CPA Australia (Singapore Division), the event shifted online due to constraints brought about by COVID-19. Future Career Quest was a networking event aimed at providing career guidance to NUS Accountancy undergraduates, with a focus on the Big Four accounting firms.

The event saw 70 freshmen and sophomore joining in for the evening over Zoom to learn and network. Executive Chairman of PwC Singapore, Mr Marcus Lam, graced the event with an impactful keynote speech on how students can prepare for a career a digitising world and amidst an ongoing pandemic. As Mr Lam shared personal anecdotes, his candour and approachability helped the audience understand his life experiences, how it influenced who he is and career decisions he made until today. Students walked away with a newfound appreciation of the future of accounting – where accountants are expected to possess multidisciplinary competencies, digital savviness and a passion for sustainability. Among other insights, Mr Lam impressed upon everyone that the type of internship or career one chose was less important than how proactive one is in learning and contributing to the organisation. This served as a good reminder that developing the right “heart-ware” is more crucial than amassing the right “hardware” as the journey continues beyond graduation.

After Mr Lam’s sharing, students also participated actively in breakout rooms with young alumni who possesses three to five years of work experience. These include alumni who had stints in the Big Four (namely in the areas of audit, advisory, tax and consulting). A total of nine young alumni, all graduates of NUS Accountancy, supported this segment, which made it easier for students in the same course to relate to them. Students were able to get up close and personal (albeit virtually) with each alumni to find out more about their experiences in university, during internship and in the workplace. Interestingly, each alumnus echoed the same encouragement for students: to keep an open mind and explore various career options – both the well-known companies such as the Big Four, and the lesser-known companies.

As the event drew to a close, students also received an opportunity to exchange contacts with the young alumni. It was a fruitful evening indeed for both students and alumni alike, with words of appreciation to the organising committee of BAN and NUSBSA Directors, Mr Edward Ta (Business '87) and Mr Pang Jun Xiang (Business '17). The organising committee would also like to extend special thank NUSBSA President, Mr Chua Hung Meng (Business '81) for securing Mr Lam as the event’s keynote speaker, and NUS BIZAlum for sponsoring the thank you gift to Mr Lam.

Submitted by Ms Catherine Chai (Business '92)

Panel Discussion - Career Guidance for Young Graduates and Mid-Career Professionals

NUS Alumni Toastmasters Club aims to help members achieve personal growth through improving communications, leadership skills, and by allowing members to develop meaningful networks with like-minded alumni. The group is guided by a structured education program. Meeting regularly, the group also creates opportunities to learn from the collective wisdom and experiences of fellow members.

On 10 September, club member Mr Xavier Dong (Business ‘17) prepared and moderated a simulated panel discussion on career guidance targeted at young graduates and mid-career professionals. Three alumni, Mr Wee Gee Shing (Business ’07), Mr Marcus Tay (Engineering ’08) and Ms Pei Wei (Business ’17) were invited as the panellists. They come from diverse backgrounds and industries, which include Management Consulting, Sustainability Operations and Investment Services. Their individual work experiences range from four to more than ten years. During the panel discussion, a top concern for many graduates was how to navigate career options and development in an increasingly complex global economy. Concurrently, Xavier posed pertinent questions to the panellists like stories about their career paths, personal motivations, important considerations in choosing an industry / organisation / job roles, and the challenges of maintaining focussed in the current global health crisis. The panel discussion ended on a high note as each panellist shared a piece of advice which would help participants develop the right approach in career choices, organisations and people whom they work with.

Submitted by Mr Wee Gee Shing (Business ’07).

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