Date: 25 August 2015 (Tuesday)
Time: 7 pm
Venue: The University Club
Organiser: Office of Undergraduate Studies/GANO
The fourth edition of the Business Leadership Development Programme (BLDP) got off to a great start as this year’s mentors gathered at the University Club on 25 August 2015 to meet their student mentees for the first time. It was a golden opportunity for both parties to foster a bond before jointly embarking on an intensive six-month learning journey. Happy chatter soon filled the air as mentors and mentees alike engaged in animated discussions as they tucked into a hearty dinner.
Maurice Tan (BBA 1990) was one of them. He has mentored in the programme in previous years, and found the experience personally rewarding. “I still keep in touch with past mentees and they write to me for advice,” he said. Buoyed by his positive experiences in the BLDP, he has now returned to reprise his mentor role, despite currently being based in Beijing.
Seasoned mentor, Dr Karuna Ramanathan (BBA Hons 1989) echoed his sentiments. In a sharing session before dinner, in which four of last year’s participants – including Dr Karuna – took to the stage to deliver key takeaways of their experiences in the programme, he highlighted how mentees can pick up valuable lessons from the programme. They can learn from their mentor’s life experiences, avoid making similar mistakes and gain insights into how to engage effectively with people that they might not necessarily see eye-to-eye with – all crucial components to being a good leader. Pointing to Tan Jun Kai , his new mentee for this round, he joked: “Boy, are you in for a ride!” – prompting much laughter from the crowd. First-time mentor Rix Chan (BBA 1992) expressed similar views. “Intelligence can only get you so far,” he observed. “What you need is the benefit of experience.” This was something that he realised during his own journey. In his role as mentor, he plans to share his knowledge and expertise to help his mentee avoid potential pitfalls.
And such are the nuggets of wisdom that the mentees hope to capitalise on. For Tan Jing Jie, the programme offers a great platform to meet excellent leaders. “Such exposure will help to enhance my personal development and allow me to gain a sense of leadership,” he said. Fellow mentee Teo Jek Wee Freddie was looking for a global leader – one who has an impeccable understanding of the overseas markets – and found a perfect match in first-time mentor, Adeline Kee (BAcc 1987). “Through the BLDP, I was able to gain essential knowledge that cannot be found in textbooks,” he said.
The mentees also had a chance to glean useful tips and insights when participant mentees from last year’s programme took to the stage. Cheryl Tang and Dorothy Oh, both BBA Year 3 students, shared the spotlight and talked about their experience under their mentor, Wong Lai Ping (BAcc 1987). Cheryl urged the mentors to give their mentees ample time to adjust because, for many of them, the programme is a first and novel experience. “Open up to your mentees,” she said, “not just about your career but also your personal journey and achievements.” Meanwhile, Dorothy advised new mentees to set a time for a session – and stick to it. “Mentors are busy people!” she reminded her fellow students. To ensure that they gain something tangible from the experience, she also highlighted the usefulness of recording the sessions through journal entries. This was something that former mentee and fourth-year BBA student Joel Goh did faithfully during his six-month stint. He shared his initial apprehension in connecting with his mentor, something that many of the new mentees could relate to. Some of them admitted to feelings of trepidation in the lead up towards the event, nervous at the thought of connecting with dynamic entrepreneurs and established business owners. But those feelings quickly faded when they realised, as mentor Angela Sim (BBA 1998) puts it during her sharing session that night, mentors were “just like you – we’re very willing to share!” Joel agreed, urging his fellow course mates: “So make the most of this opportunity – set goals for every session and be honest and open.”
Judging by the positive responses from the participants, the next six months promise to be an enriching and eye-opening experience for mentees and mentors alike.