As 2011 draws to a close and 2012 dawns, we take a fresh look at how the NUS Business School’s Global Alumni Network Office grows a vibrant alumni community across professions and generations, near and far.
With over 33,000 alumni spanning five continents and 42 cities – and still growing – maintaining a sense of community is an on-going challenge. Looking back, the NUS Business School’s Global Alumni Network Office (GANO) offers a dynamic calender of events and activities annually where members have the opportunity to engage one another professionally as well as to enjoy themselves in a myriad of activities.
Big on Business
Since the launch of GANO four years ago, we have witnesses and exponential growth in numbers. In partnership with our alumni associations, we now have many signature events to call our own. These are CEO Unplugged which had its 20th run in March 2011, NUSBSA CEO Breakfast Talks and Mandarin Management Forums. The recent Zheng He’s Art of Collaboration Forum welcomed an overwhelming 300 participants.
Ambitious and highly-successful events overseas include the inaugural Global Alumni Summit in Bali in November 2010 and, more recently, the forum on “Indian Leadership in the 21st Century” in Bangalore in February 2011. The latter provided the impetus for subsequent alumni gatherings in New Delhi and Hyderabad within the same week – fulfilling GANO’s mission of building relationships with alumni.
Meeting the Hearts and Minds
At these large-scale events, our alumni share insight and interact with individuals who helm major local or multinational corporations. GANO has had the privilege of hosting speakers such as Mr Allen Lew, Chief Executive Officer of Singapore Telecommunications Limited, who continues to lead the transformation of SingTel Singapore into a leading multimedia and info-communications technology solutions provider (SAS-NUSBSA CEO Breakfast Talk, 20 Oct 2011); and Mr Lee Tze Yang, Chairman of Shell Companies in Singapore, previous co-chair of the Water Focus Group for the Singapore Green Plan 2010, member of the Centre for Liveable Cities advisory board, and an advisor for environmental management on the NUS Board of Trustees (SAS-NUSBSA CEO Breakfast Talk: Meeting Future Energy Needs, 15 Apr 2011).
One participant from New Delhi summed things up beautifully. Said Nitin Girotra (MBA 2007), “It was really fantastic to have diverse and eminent speakers up close, sharing topics ranging from arts to mythology.”
Big on Fun
However, it is not all just business. The annual NUS Business School Golf Reunion Challenge is an event that attracts alumni from afar. Mr Yam Ah Mee (MBA 1991), who was at the 2011 tournament at the Singapore Island Country Club, said, “It’s wonderful to attend alumni games where everyone from different committees can come together to relax, have fun and network with one another. It is an opportunity to renew friendships, with both local and international members of our alumni network.”
Off the beaten track for alumni is the annual Gobi Desert Challenge, a grueling 4-day trek across the Gobi Desert, featuring teams from 18 top international business schools like Tsinghua University and Peking University. Forth alumni, students and their families took part in the 2011 event. “When the Challenge ended, the team members became so close! I couldn’t help imagining what it would be like if our interpersonal relationships at work and in life were as harmonious, friendly and trustworthy. It would be fun!” shared Zhang Runbin (APEX-C MBA 2001).
Back home in Singapore, events like the Oktoberfest 2011 at Paulaner Brauhaus in Millenia Walk attracted 150 alumni and students participants who chatted over chilled beer and warm cheers; and Explore Singapore 2011 & Networking Dinner helped 134 incoming students bond with the School and their predecessors. Such events that include alumni and students allow alumni to talent-scout for their companies in an informal setting, while allowing students to widen their career opportunities.
Big on Personalization
Countless smaller-scale events are also made available to alumni who prefer a more tight-knit setting. Often initiated by alumni themselves, these gatherings are held in Singapore and overseas, and range from being corporate-focused to interest-based.
Citing our activities in China as examples, the variety offered is clear. In July 2011, the Eastern China Alumni Network Reading Club in Shanghai held its 5th workshop based on “Life”, a book that consolidated the philosophy of bestselling author Kazua Inamori. One amazing activity that looks set for an encore was the 8-day Zhang Jia Jie Trip held in October 2011. The breathtaking vertical landscape made the Avator movie set come alive for participants.
Locally, such activities range from MBA Alumni-NUS Movie Screening in November 2011, to NUSBSA Members’ Night 2010: Wine Appreciation, and Mandarin Alumni’s Mid-autumn Festival Celebration every September.
So, no matter where our alumni are around the world, whatever their interests may be, they are never far from the reach and support of their alma mater.
Big on Class
Even cozier still are the alumni gatherings by class or program, a mainstay of networking activities that strengthen bonds between former classmates.
Thirty-five years and still in touch. When the BBA Class of 1976 had their 35th Anniversary Reunion in March 2011, they experienced so much fun and meaning in the event that they fixed the first Friday every March as “Old Friends Day of the BBA Class of 1976”. Equally remarkable were the positive vibes when the Business Administration / Accountancy Class of 1981 aptly themed their reunion event “Friends for Life”. When they gathered at Kent Ridge in May 2011, 30 years after their graduation, it was like they had never parted.
At yet another 30th Anniversary Reunion in November 2010, Francis Yuen (BBA 1980) enthused, “This reunion dinner is like an oasis at this juncture of our journey in life. It refreshed friendship and makes us appreciate how fortunate we have been.” Alumni organizer of the event, Wong Soon Hwa (BBA 1980) said, “Thirty years is certainly a meaningful milestones. We recognize the Past. We celebrate the Present. And we welcome the Future. Together with the Alumni Office and the School, we must always keep the Bizad spirit flying high.”
Elsewhere overseas, such events are also taking place. In April 2011, the APEX-C MBA Class of 2006 reunited for a 3-day trip in Xiamen. In November 2010, gatherings in New Delhi and Mumbai were held for alumni of our MBA, S3 Asia MBA, UCLA-NUS EMBA, APEX MBA and NUS PKU IMBA programs.
Big on Tech
Perhaps more than ever before, it has become easier to stay in touch with alumni all over the world with the introduction of the BizAlum Directory in July 2011.
Our 24/7 ready-access service allows alumni who are registered users to search for fellow alumni, and to keep in contact via social networking tools like email, Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. The Directory’s powerful search function allows users to filter contacts by company, industry, job function and city. This has made it easier for our alumni community to tap into our vast international network, to share knowledge and resources as well as to expand their business and career opportunities.
The Directory also provides alumni with an effective means to organize reunions, or to give back to NUS Business School by contributions or by volunteering to organize events.
This effort to better link up alumni has received the thumbs-up from several members of the alumni community. Seah Kwee Yong (Dip BA 1985), winner of an iPad in the August 2011 BizAlum Directory registration promotion, said, “In the private sector, it is better to be listed as it is a form of advertising. So I thought I would make use of the opportunity provided by this Directory. For me, it has been great for finding people from the same batch, to know how they are doing.”
Time to Play
One impromptu comment by an alumnus says it all about GANO’s alumni relations-building efforts. Enthusiastically shared by Kunal Sinha (MBA 2008) at his class reunion dinner in August 2011, “The last three years since I left school, it’s been unbelievable. We’re living in unprecedented times; things have been uncertain at times, things have been fruitful at times, but NUS has done good things for me. I’m happy where I am right now. So, time to play.”
Indeed, it’s time to play … the world in your oyster!
So, see you around at our alumni events. And do continue to explore the BizAlum Directory!