Date: 31 July 2009, Friday
Time: 4pm – 6.30pm
Venue: NUS Guild Hall, Left Chamber
Organizers: Global Alumni Network Office
“The graduate unemployed is often a forgotten a lot as more governments would assume that being the better educated, they can look after themselves. However we all know that misfortune has nothing to do with one’s education level. PM Lee even called them the sandwiched class in a speech reported in the Business Times of Feb 29th, 2009. So while the government of the day has many problems to help the lower levels of our society, it is important that the graduates are able to leverage on one another to cushion the fallouts from the current economic storm,” Benny Lee, President of the NUS Business School Alumni Association explained in his speech when launching a new scheme to help NUS Alumni affected by the global economic crisis.
The Business Advisors Program (BAP) is a joint initiative by the NUS Business School Alumni Association and the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) to help SMEs engage Professional, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMETs) as Business Advisors and capitalize on their expertise to grow the SMEs. The scheme matches and deploys PMET NUS alumni to SMEs, which are also run by NUS Alumni, for short-term consulting assignment averaging six months. The PMETs exercise their expertise, experience and market knowledge to help the SMEs in their business strategies and operations.
The maximum total fee payable to the Business Advisor per month is $5,000; and SPRING Singapore is supporting the BAP by funding 70 percent of the project fees, with the rest to be borne by the SMEs involved who will benefit from the program.
Despite being just launched on 31 July 2009, there are already 82 PMET and 64 SME sign-ups, and the target is at least 30 BAP projects in the next 14 months.
Chemistry at Work
Also speaking at the launch at NUS Kent Ridge Guild House, Professor Bernard Yeung, Dean of NUS Business School, elaborated, “SMEs are usually vulnerable to economic crises. With the right talent on board, it could increase their capability to adapt and navigate through the difficult global market and explore new opportunities, especially at the beginning of the recovery. Since man of our alumni are also owners of SMEs, this program also provides the opportunity for a vibrant exchange of ideas and perspectives, particularly befitting the changing business environment.”
Susan Chong (current APEX-E MBA student), CEO of Greenpac (S) Pte Ltd, agrees on the benefits SMEs like Greenpac can reap from BAP. “It has always been a challenge for SMEs to get the best talent, because more people prefer to join MNCs. BAP is one of the best programs to bridge that. It will encourage PMETs to come into an SME and realize that these companies do have potential and present opportunities,” she said. “Don’t forget that every MNC started out as an SME.”
Roy Ong (NUS MBA 2000), who intent to join the BAP as Business Advisor, said, “Potential Business Advisors should approach this as a challenge. As graduates, we tend to have a static view of work, thinking that a job automatically comes with our degree. This recession is a wake-up call for us, even for me. I realize we must always strive to bring value to our job, company or project. The degree merely takes us the first step into the Human Resource Department. What matters is how you perform on the job, what you do with the degree. So, we should not view this as a vacation job, but to proactively provide value instead. Who knows, if the SME finds you an asset, they may hire you full-time, and then both sides win.”
The SBF will facilitate the selection and matching of PMETs and SMEs, by disseminating information about the scheme to its members, and also helping scope the work for the Business Advisors. Mr Teng Theng Dar, CEO of SBF, said, “This collaboration between the SBF and NUS is aimed at facilitating business, manpower and technology capability building by enabling SBF members to tap on the talent pool of students, faculty and alumni from the university. The NUS-SBF BAP is yet another initiative whereby companies can access the expertise of the NUS alumni PMETs for business consultancy and support, while tapping on SPRING Singapore’s funding.”
Gideon Lim (BA (Hons) 1995), Managing Director of Web Synergies (S) Pte Ltd, is looking forward to engaging a BAP Business Advisor, “The SME boss is a generalist, we do the HR, marketing, communications, and strategizing aspects. A specialist with an MNC background, with specialist skills, will help us strengthen certain areas of operations such as marketing or finance, etc.,” he explained.
By Alumni, For Alumni
BAP’s Program Director, Ivan Lim (current UCLA-NUS MBA student), said, “this program also provides the opportunity for a mentorship initiative. Emphasizing the ‘by Alumnus, for Alumnus intention, we want to encourage more interaction among alumni, and what better way to do that than to extend the learning’ experience into the professional realm with a mentorship program?”
It is clear that the BAP can make a significant impact on SMEs and PMETs displaced by the current economic turmoi. “When the US-led recession started to hurt our fellow graduates, I thought instead of focusing on the usual reunion teas or dinner or even our Breakfast Talk series, we should focus our energies on helping one another in this very serious downturn,” said Benny Lee, who is also the Chairman of the BAP Steering Committee.
“I am proud to launch what must be a first in the history of tertiary education in Singapore; and honored because it is rare indeed to be given such a privilege to lead such an initiative, which is probably the most meaningful one that any alumni can engage in.”
The launch was also attended by Mr Lim Chai Boon, Deputy Executive Director of SBF, and Professor Tan Chorh Chuan, President of NUS.