Lee Junxian (BBA 2008)
At this time of commencement at NUS Business School, we celebrate the graduation of our students and welcome a new batch of alumni. This cohort is now leaving the School to embark on a new working life just as one of our alumni from BBA 2008, Mr Lee Junxian, is leaving his working life and going back to school to start on his MBA.
A familiar face on campus
Actually, he really never left us and has been present at NUS in some form or other since his graduation. He first joined our marketing team at the NUS alumni office after graduation and, after a short stint in the financial sector, he joined the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). Here he took a full-time position in marketing, while in the evening running a set of cafes with his business partner, a fellow alumnus.
A home away from home
They established their first cafe at Prince Georges Park, and over the years developed their own signature recipes and homemade sauces, which they deliver to a hungry and appreciative clientele through their chain of cafes. Most of our NUS Business School students will be familiar with the new Reedz cafe recently opened at the Mochtar Riady building, where Junxian can be found most evenings. (See www.facebook.com/reedzcafe if you missed out on the experience.) “NUS is like a second home for me,” explains Junxian.
Applying learning in the real world
When asked how he has managed his time running the cafes while holding down a full-time job, Junxian explains that the cafes are designed to run themselves.
“My partner runs the operational side of the business during the day and we have a team of good people on staff, so it’s really not an issue. Besides, when you do something you enjoy, it’s not really work,” he adds.
When he embarks on his full-time MBA in August, he will still be involved in running the cafes in the evenings, and having them on campus or nearby helps. In addition, the theory he picked up during his undergraduate studies at the School in finance, marketing, logistics and HR, he feels, has given him a very firm foundation on which to build his businesses.
So with a chain of successful cafes and a secure career in marketing under his belt, why did Junxian feel the need to pursue an MBA? He values the learning that the MBA course will bring. “I find that people who pursue a higher education see things differently due to their greater exposure,” he explains. By studying his Masters, Junxian too hopes to broaden his horizons through exposure to other industries and working cultures.
But his motivations are not completely self-centered. He is heavily involved in the new NUS Business School Alumni (NUSBSA) committee and has a vision for greater involvement of alumni in School activities. “I’m looking forward to supporting our new president Simon Phua, and am excited about the renewed energy that he has put into the team,” he explains.
Still taking an active role in Bizad affairs
Junxian still takes an active role in the Bizad Club affairs, as he did in his undergraduate days. One such example is his participation in the Bizad Charity Run, a large-scale event designed to bring students and alumni together for a good cause.
The run is now into its third year and Junxian hopes that more alumni will back his committee to really brand the run and make it an established annual campus event. “Every dollar raised in the run goes to charity and a government matching grant means we get to double what we raise.”
He has many more plans and feels that the focus now needs to be on getting current students involved in alumni activities now so that when they graduate, NUS will still be in their blood, and engaging in active social activities within the association will be a natural next step after graduation.
Passing on the baton
“I can’t see myself leaving the world of education, and I will always be involved in the school in some capacity,” he says. “But the director I want to take in the future is to get involved in philanthropic education.”
Junxian was inspired towards this new path during his time with CASE, where he got to travel to other countries and see the world being done to create education opportunities for those who currently have none. “That’s where I see myself contributing. I have benefited so much from my education and I want others to have the same opportunities.”