Passing the baton

Simon Phua (BBA Hons 1976)

simon_phuaAs Simon Phua prepares to step down as President of the NUS Business School Alumni Association (NUSBSA) following the committee elections in June 2014, we take a look back with him at the achievements of the Association over the years and look ahead to the Association’s new initiatives.

Fundraising achievements
“I am proud to be able to look back and say that we have consistently contributed over $100,000 a year to the students, the school and the community since 2007 through various fundraising initiatives,” says Simon.

Two golf events held in 2007 and 2008 were the first major fundraisers organised by the Association, specifically to raise money for the building of the Mochtar Riady Building. In total they raised close to $400,000. Now an annual social event, the golf championship and dinner have become a highlight on the calendar for many.

“Sub-named Bursary and Student Exchange Funds were also started to support students of NUS Business School, and are ongoing initiatives,” Simon explains. “To date we have raised over more than $500,000 for Bursaries and more than $275,000 (excluding matching grants) towards the Student Exchange Programme to support students as they broaden their experience.”

However, the Association’s signature charity event is the annual Bizad Charity Run, first held in 2011. “It started as a simple event, as an idea to do something different to raise money for designated charities and bursaries,” says Simon. It grew in popularity and in 2013 the Bizad Charity Run raised a record sum of over $175,000. This funded five bursaries of $25,000 each and the remaining funds went to charities. This year’s run, held on 11 January 2014, attracted a record number of participants and garnered good media attention. It raised a further four bursaries and supported local charities. Next year’s event will flag off NUS Business School’s 50th anniversary.

Continued support is needed
But as Simon cautions, “The work we do doesn’t happen out of thin air. It requires the support of our Association members, alumni and students, who generously give their time and support to organise such events and think of creative new ways to give back.”

So as the Committee prepares to elect its new leadership team for the next two years, Simon hopes to see younger alumni getting involved, particularly those who graduated in the ’80s and ’90s and who now have well established in careers. “We need the support of all graduates – the ones that continue to support us year after year, those who haven’t yet become involved and of course new graduates.”

New initiatives to drive greater results
Looking ahead, the Committee has identified the Bizad Charity Run and the Alumni Reunion Dinner as the Association’s two signature events. “The reunion dinner event is a good opportunity for us to raise money and to recruit new members. Last year at our inaugural event, we filled 30 tables and this year we are targeting 40.”

As for the Bizad Charity Run, Simon would like to see it increase in scope to become an annual Bizad Day, where many different fundraising events can be held concurrently.

The Association will also continue to support the initiatives of its members, with the BSA Youth Wing being one example, with its Connexxions series of networking events. “It’s important that we support initiatives like this as a means to sow the seeds necessary to engage future alumni, and to attract and retain graduates each year,” advises Simon.

The latest target is a $75,000 endowment NUSBSA Social Impact Prize. The first of its kind, it will be awarded to students who have not only done well academically but have demonstrated their passion for community services and have contributed meaningfully to society.

“It’s been a challenging and fulfilling time being the Association’s President,” Simon concludes. “I would like to thank GANO for their support and I hope that alumni will continue to engage in our varied initiatives, and that as we create greater awareness of what we do, that more alumni will come forward to serve and take up life membership in our Association.”

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