YOG is sweeping local sports news. But it’s all from the outside looking in. Now, we bring you right in, for an insider’s perspective. We spoke to one of our very own alumni who’s right smack in the middle of the action – a dream come true indeed to be a part of the inaugural Singapore YOG Organizing Committee.
Why and how did you get the job on the Youth Olympic Games?
I still vividly remember the night on 21 February 2008, after Singapore was declared the host of the inaugural Youth Olympic Games 2010. I excitedly told my friends that I must join the YOG after graduating from my MBA course. Indeed, upon my graduation, the first job I applied for was with YOG. Unfortunately, I did not received any news from them. So I worked as a Marketing Executive with Wyeth which gave me such satisfaction and a function which I would like to pursue in future – since my YOG appointment will expire after the Games.
But I still held on to my dream and pursued my goal to work in the YOG. Through the help of an MBA alumnus, I was introduced to YOG’s Senior Management. When the job offer finally came, the opportunity of a lifetime to work on the inaugural YOG Organizing Committee was too much to resist, even though the job had a fixed term and I would need to get another after that.
I am truly lucky to get this dream job that combines my knowledge in Building and Business with my passion for sports. I have been a keen sportsman in various sports since school days, and regularly participate in triathlons now. With this job, I am able to keep up my sporting activities.
What does your job in YOG entail?
I am a Venue Development Manager in the Singapore YOG Organizing Committee (SYOGOC). There will be 18 competition venues and nine training venues for the 26 sports to be played in the Games. My team is responsible for the management and operations of these venues, together with the Venue Managers and Competition Managers. We have to make sure these venues are suitable and ready, in time for the Games.
I work with the contractors and several parties concurrently, planning everything to move fast, since time is running out. Most Olympic venues have seven years to prepare, but Singapore only has two years to organize this inaugural YOG. Fortunately, I am able to leverage on what I had learnt for my Building degree. I am also able to leverage on my MBA course for soft skills involved in balancing the various needs and considerations of the international league of sportsmen and managers coming for the YOG, such as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and various International Sports Federation. You need to work well with people to achieve your targets and tight deadlines, so I apply communications skills I learnt from NUS Business School.
How are you able to balance such tough work demands with your passion for sports?
If you are passionate, you will find time for it. While my job is important, I cannot neglect my family, friends and passion. I should never feel that I am too busy for something I want to do. I’ve had good mentors in my life who showed me nothing is impossible if you try hard enough. So I believe that work-life balance can be achieved. I also love to travel, something I picked up while on a 4-month study stint in Barcelona. I covered 47 cities in that time.
Well, that would mean you hardly spent any time at school in Barcelona!
It was during my NUS MBA when I spent my final semester in ESADE Business School in Barcelona. I visited several European cities during my free time, which were weekends or after the course. I picked destinations that were within my budget, that seemed cool and exotic, or that were highly-recommended. I worked around a tight budget and schedule, to see as much as possible and leave no stone unturned.
I particularly enjoyed my time in Eastern Europe – Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia and Poland – as the people were always very warm and friendly, and never hesitated to offer help. It was also interesting to listen to their stories as many of them had lived through wars and their outlook on life was different.
My travels have opened my mind to new ideas and possibilities, especially after meeting travelers from other countries, hearing their amazing adventures and making friends along the way. My travels have also helped me to appreciate the security and cleanliness that we take for granted in Singapore.
How would you sum up your YOG experience?
This is arguably the biggest event and project Singapore has ever undertaken. It is as though we are constantly sprinting in a marathon, full of adrenaline and excitement, a feeling I will surely miss when my YOG journey ends.
But I have learnt to live in the present and look forward to the future, and to look back on my life with no regrets. I have accomplished what I wanted so far, so anything else that comes in the future will be a bonus.
Visit the Youth Olympic Games website here.