The Alumni Appreciation Dinner 2014 got us thinking about the many different ways our alumni contribute to the School, be it time, skills, knowledge, mentorship, organisation or fundraising. So we took the opportunity to talk to some of our alumni volunteers, both in Singapore and overseas, to find out more about how they contribute and what motivates them to continue to do so despite their busy schedules and lives.
Yeo Keng Joon (MBA 1985)
A familiar face at most alumni events, Yeo Keng Joon has been an active alumni member since his graduation in 1985. After serving as President of the MBA Alumni – NUS, he set up the NUS Business School Alumni Association (NUSBSA) in 2000. He also served two terms on the NUS Alumni Advisory Board from its inception in 2005 to 2011.
However, over the last six to seven years, Keng Joon has been involved in fundraising, an activity he has found very rewarding and, with the network that had nurtured over the years, something he finds relatively easy to do. “You give back in the best ways you can, and at this stage in my life, this is the way I am most able to contribute,” he says.
In 2007, he almost singlehandedly started the endowed NUSBSA Bursary Fund to help needy students in the NUS Business School. Even when travelling, he can initiate emails to contacts to garner support for worthwhile causes, including endowment bursaries, some in the names of former classmates and professors who have passed away. These bursaries provide ongoing funds to support needy NUS Business School students. He also helped raised funds for the NUS BSA Students Experience Fund, which enables students to take part in exchange trips to further their outlook. “The good thing is that all funds donated by alumni go towards helping the beneficiaries,” he explains. The Endowed Funds in NUS are structured so that donors of $25,000 or more get sub-naming rights of their choice for the bursary fund, and they will be helping a student each year in perpetuity with the funds disbursed from their endowed fund.
Keng Joon is currently active in raising funds for the NUS Alumni Student Advancement Committee, and his participation in golf fundraising events and other themed events goes towards this. One themed event that particularly thrilled him to initiate is the NUS Campus Couples Fund , which appeals to alumni who met their spouse on campus. Ten couples are now on board the programme and the aim is to reach 40 couples. “This was a fun one for me,” he explains. “I was blessed to meet my wife on campus.” Keng Joon is now working on the NUS Campus Couples Interest group, a platform to help couples network and explore how they can give back, not only through fundraising but in other ways. On top of that, he is always looking out for other creative ideas to theme fundraising events. “It’s never too late to take part in alumni activities,” he advises. “If you see it as fun, as I do, and not as a chore, you can contribute, and do good by giving not necessarily money, but your time, experience and skills in many ways that will help others and impact their lives.”
Are you a campus couple? Would you like to support the NUS Campus Couples Bursary Fund? For more information about the NUS Campus Couples Bursary Fund, or to make a gift, please contact email@example.com.
Peter Yap (MBA 1986)
Peter lost touch with the Business School for many years due to his heavy travel schedules and overseas postings in corporate life but was re-acquainted with the alumni through his friend and MBA coursemate Yeo Keng Joon. With the encouragement of another course mate, President Mike Teng, he now serves on the MBA Alumni-NUS Board as the Assistant Secretary. He enjoys being an active participant of events and interacting regularly with students and other alumni members.
Peter believes that students must be challenged to think out of the box in their learning. He is a firm believer that education in the business schools must combine the study of management with the practice of management. Facilitating lectures in the Alumni Lecture Series, he applies this principle as he relays his experiences and engages students in open discussions. He enjoys sharing his experience and is a firm believer in open dialogue with students rather than adopting a top-down approach to teaching. Through his sharing, his hope is that students appreciate being able to see the theories they learn in classes come to life.
Peter appeals to alumni to try their hand at being more active within NUS and to give something back to their Alma Mater from the much they have gained from it. He asked that the giving be based on an altruistic motive; if it is not, it will be unsustainable. As another way to give back to his Alma Mater, Peter has also signed up for next year’s MBA Mentorship Programme.
Sonny Yuen (BBA 1985)
As co-founder of an executive search company, Sonny has the flexibility to devote time out of his day to various alumni activities. Always active in hostel during his university days, being involved in alumni activities was a natural progression.
A life member of the NUS Business School Alumni Association since 2000 , Sonny has taken on different roles on the Board over the years, including that of Assistant Treasurer and Vice President. This year, he assumes the mantle of President for the next two years. It was Sonny too who organised the first CEO Breakfast series, running six talks over two years as well as more informal CEO Unplugged sessions, where students gain insights from CEOs as to what makes them tick. Yet another example of his contributions is the 2013 Bizad Charity Run , which grew in iconic popularity when he took over, raising a record sum of over $175,000. This funded five bursaries of $25,000 each, with the remaining funds going to the three adopted charities. With his business and contacts, he has also been referring job and internship opportunities to Business School alumni and students by connecting them with interested corporate partners.
Asked how he manages his time, Sonny says he carefully picks events that allow him to contribute the most. While he acknowledges that there are benefits to be gained from connections made through the NUS network, he advises fellow alumni to get involved with the altruistic purpose of making a difference to others.
Joseph Tan (MBA 2011)
Following an enriching MBA year where he made many connections and friendships, Joseph Tan decided to dedicate time to giving back to NUS Business School. Spurred on by his experience as a mentee under Yeo Keng Joon, he believes that giving back is made easy by simply contributing in areas in which you naturally excel. In between his work in the Air Force and spending time with his two young children, he was the committee chair for the NUS Biz School Golf Reunion Challenge over the last two years. Joseph is no stranger to organising major events as he is also the Chairman of the Parade and Ceremony of the National Day Parade 2014. As the Vice President of the MBA Alumni-NUS association board, Joseph helps to coordinate events that connect students with alumni, and encourages new graduates to participate as they have fresh perspectives to offer. Like his mentor, Joseph hopes to be a role model and friend, and to pass on valuable life experiences and knowledge.
Ryan Peh (BBA 2009)
Ryan’s decision to be an active alumni member boils down to one thing: gratitude. Having switched from Engineering to the Business School in his years as a student, he recognises the unique opportunities that the Business School presents. He believes the chance to network and create connections with others in his time at the school was one that he would not have gotten elsewhere and is determined to see others benefit from this in the way he has. An active alumni, he helps organise events that bring together both graduates and undergraduates from the same industry in order to maximise networking opportunities. He also takes part in BSA-led events such as Members’ Night and makes an effort to boost attendance at GANO-organised events such as Mind My Business.
Zeeshan Khan (MBA 2012)
After living and working in Dubai for some years, Zeeshan decided on a career change. Recognising the diversity that the Asia Pacific has to offer and the region’s growing importance, he proceeded to do his MBA with the Business School. He feels that the School has opened a lot of doors for him and he hopes to help students as he was helped, believing that alumni and students have a shared journey. He is now a mentor in the MBA Mentorship programme and meets his mentee once a month for drinks at Clarke Quay or for a casual catch-up. To Zeeshan, it is a two-way relationship in which both mentor and mentee learn much from each other as they exchange experiences and information. With both of them being in the oil and gas industry, Zeeshan shares his experiences and knowledge while his mentee brings new perspectives to the table. He also regularly attends MBA alumni networking events, where he has the chance to interact with students, share his knowledge and offer advice.
Tan Yong-Wah (B.Sc 1982, MBA 2000)
As an active alumni member, Tan Yong-Wah cites a desire to give back as his reason for contributing. Exchanging experiences with students, mentoring and conducting briefings are some of the ways he does this. Being based in Hong Kong has by no means limited his possibilities to contribute as he
takes part in activities that do not require him to be physically present at the School, such as being long-distance mentor in the MBA Mentorship Programme. He also takes part locally where he can, for instance, he was one of the speakers at the alumni networking seminar organised by the Hong Kong Alumni Chapter and GANO. “Experience sharing does not take up much time,” he reveals. “Experiences, without sharing, will not reflect value,” he says, and encourages alumni to impart their own unique experiences and knowledge.
Rahul Tadimalla (MBA 2007)
A self-made investment banker by day and musician by night, this multi-talented MBA graduate has been actively helping NUS Business School since the establishment of GANO in 2007. As an alumni representative for Bangalore in India, Rahul spends a lot of time spearheading events there. From sourcing for venues and rates to securing prominent speakers for seminars, he spares no effort in making sure everything stays on track.
Besides organising events, Rahul actively offers his assistance and time to ensure that the full-time MBA students and UCLA-NUS APEX MBA students on study trips are able to get the most of their overseas experience. Not only does he take full charge of arranging their corporate visits, accommodation and sightseeing activities both in Mumbai and Bangalore, he also brings the students for shopping, dining at local restaurants and bar visits.
His various interactions with the NUS Business School alumni as a student sparked an early interest in alumni activities. Rahul looks forward to an alumni chapter in Bangalore in future which will bring those in the city even closer and foster greater communication with the rest of the alumni chapters worldwide.
His advice to those considering to give back? “None of our efforts in giving back to NUS business school would be sufficient compared to what we got (and continue to get) from the School. This is a form of saying thank you, and just a small way of appreciating what GANO and the School have done for us.”
Kirti Chopra (MBA 2010)
For Kirti, being an active alumni member is the one way to remain connected with the alma mater, professors and current students. As a regular attendee at alumni events and taking on the responsibility of class champion, he helps current students by giving them a perspective on the industry and on recruitment. When asked how he manages to find time between his work, personal time and alumni activities he promptly replies: “Frankly, giving back does not require an inordinate amount of time. But even this small amount of time I do give goes a long way in cultivating relationships.”
Huang Kuo-Fen (APEX-MBA Chinese 2011)
For Huang Kuo-Fen, it is her desire to share her knowledge, skills and experience that motivates her to be a part of the alumni community. She sees the global Business School alumni network as a platform that unites alumni members and promotes the exchange of ideas and information across borders. “Our alumni network spans across the globe, with chapters in many countries. This means that alumni can receive assistance and resources in almost every part of the world, even when they are not in their home country,” she explains. As such, she regularly organises events to welcome new alumni members into the Taiwan chapter and patiently explains the benefits of the alumni network. Encouraging other alumni members to contribute their time, she says: “It only takes a little time and effort to be able to make a big difference in the lives of others.”
David Wong (BBA 1977)
For David Wong, it was his personal experiences with the Business School alumni as a student that motivated him to later become an active member himself. His desire to give back was so great that even being based in Hong Kong did not deter him. Today, David is the Vice President of the Hong Kong Chapter, doing for the junior cohorts what his seniors did for him. In his role, he hosts EMBA exchange students to Hong Kong, helping them to settle in and grow their network of contacts. By giving the students access to practical experience and a better understanding of the Chinese markets, David hopes to bridge the gap between studies and the real world. For those considering giving back, he says: “If you can’t give your time, give your money or fund something. Because every little bit counts.”