ALUMNI MAGAZINE OF THE NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE
THE BIRTHPLACE OF
IDEAS N U S â&#x20AC;&#x2122; M U LT I FA C E T E D CHARGE LEADS THE WAY IN SOCIAL AND COMMERCIAL INNOVATION
APR-JUN 2017 // ISSUE #109
Saturday, 9 September 2017
APR - JUN
Save the date! A day when the NUS family comes together to serve and to give back to the community.
IN THE NEWS
02 NUS Ranked the World’s 4th Most International University 04 Chinese New Year Appreciation Dinner 2017 06 Edutainment Concerts 2017 07 Thirsty Thursdays
08 Meet The Disruptors
16 Doing Good Business PURSUIT OF EXCELLENCE
18 Taking On Tech ONCE UPON A MEMORY
20 A Ball Of A Time MY WORD
Jan-Mar 2017 issue, page 36: The group photo for NUSS -YSTCM was incorrect. Below is the correct image:
22 Driving Home A Point ALUMNI SCENE
24 Better Together 25 By Seniors, For Seniors
Join NUS Day of Service and make a difference to the lives of others!
ALUMNI SCENE GIVING
26 Scholarship In Honour Of Prominent Co Community Leader 28 Paying Pa It Forward
Organise or participate in a community activity with your fellow alumni, students or colleagues.
U @ LIV LIVE
30 St 3 Stronger Together
CORRIGENDUM Jan-Mar 2017 issue, page 16: We would like to correct the statements made in the Cover Story. The University, in the words of NUS Vice Provost of Special Duties Professor Ashraf Kassim,”encourages students to go on internships,which are already compulsory for some undergraduate degree programmes.” It does not plan to make internships compulsory for all faculties (as was stated).
32 Events PERSPECTIVE
46 Inspired To Innovate LAST WORD
48 For The Love Of Language
An initiative of the NUS Alumni Advisory Board
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Advisor MR BERNARD TOH (Architecture ’84) Editor KARIN YEO (Arts and Social Sciences ’97) Assistant Editor LING ING TAN Production Assistant NOREEN KWAN Publishing Consultant MEDIACORP PTE LTD
F O R M O R E I N F O R M AT I O N O R T O R E A D T H E A L U M N U S O N L I N E , P L E A S E V I S I T A LU M N E T. N U S . E D U . S G /A LU M N U S M A G A Z I N E .
The AlumNUS is published quarterly by the NUS Office of Alumni Relations. The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the NUS Office of Alumni Relations or the National University of Singapore. Copyright 2017 by the National University of Singapore. All rights reserved. Printed in Singapore by KHL Printing Co Pte Ltd.
IN THE NEWS
NUS RANKED THE WORLD’S
4 MOST I N T E R N AT I O N A L UNIVERSITY To e n h a n c e l e a r n i n g o u t c o m e s , w e b r i n g o u r students to the world, and we bring a world of learning to our students in Singapore.
I L L U ST RAT I O N : G E TT Y I M AG E S
THE NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE (NUS) has been ranked fourth and is the only university in Singapore in the 2017 Times Higher Education (THE) Most International University Ranking. NUS President Professor Tan Chorh Chuan (Medicine ’83) said, “We are pleased to be placed fourth in the world in the THE’s ranking of The World’s Most International Universities 2017. This is a strong recognition of our global approach to education and research with a focus on Asian perspectives and expertise, as well as the active role we play in international academic and research networks.” “As the majority of our students are Singaporeans, they benefit greatly from the unique diversity of learning opportunities that NUS can provide as one of the most international universities in the world,” Prof Tan added. “In short, to enhance learning outcomes, we bring our students to the world, and we bring a world of learning to our students in Singapore. This is very important for Singapore as we are a small country with extensive trading ties around the globe and home to many companies with multinational operations.” About 80 per cent of NUS undergraduates have a significant overseas study experience — through programmes such as semester-long student exchange programmes in more than 300 partner universities in over 40 countries, and the unique and successful NUS Overseas Colleges programme which provides students with internship opportunities in entrepreneurial
This is a strong recognition of our global approach to education and research with a focus on Asian perspectives and expertise, as well as the active role we play in international academic and research networks. hubs such as Silicon Valley, Beijing and Stockholm. In addition, NUS offers more than 70 joint-, double- and concurrent degree programmes in collaboration with top universities with complementary strengths.
NUS OFFERS MORE THAN
JOINT-, DOUBLE- AND CONCURRENT DEGREE PROGRAMMES IN COLLABORATION WITH TOP UNIVERSITIES WITH COMPLEMENTARY STRENGTHS
In the area of research, NUS has also built a global network of partnerships. Prof Tan explained, “Today, research is an international activity. It is very important for NUS researchers to collaborate extensively with top research groups from leading universities around the world as this further increases the quality and impact of their work. It can also contribute to realising and raising the translational impact of our research, for the benefit of economic and societal advancement in Singapore and beyond. Because of these, NUS will continue to further deepen and broaden our international partnerships in research and education.”
IN THE NEWS
EVERY CHINESE NEW YEAR, the NUS Office of Alumni Relations (OAR) takes the opportunity to show its appreciation to alumni leaders, volunteers, partners, colleagues and students who had supported OAR in its efforts to strengthen and deepen alumni relations. This year, about 270 guests attended the Chinese New Year Appreciation Dinner held on 8 February. The Shaw Foundation Alumni House was filled with a festive atmosphere with guests dressed in auspicious colours who were greeted by Fu Lu Shou mascots. The celebration kicked off
CHINESE NEW YEAR A P P R E C I AT I O N DINNER 2017
with an energetic lion dance performed by the NUS Lion Dance. The ‘God of Prosperity’ also made an appearance and distributed ang baos (red packets) containing chocolates to the guests. After the lion dance performance, guests proceeded to the National University of Singapore Society Kent Ridge Guild House for a traditional Lo Hei dinner and were treated to performances by Mr Bunz Bao Er Cong (Arts and Social Sciences ’14) and the NUS Chinese Orchestra. Another highlight of the event was the sand art performance featuring upcoming OAR events by performing sand artist, Ms Stacey Lee. VIPs who attended the event included former NUS Board of Trustees (BOT) Chairman Mr Wong Ngit Liong (Engineering ’65), BOT Members Dr Noeleen Heyzer (Arts and Social Sciences ’71) and Ms Chong Siak Ching (Design and Environment ’81), NUS University Professor and former Vice Chancellor Professor Lim Pin, and NUS President Professor Tan Chorh Chuan (Medicine ’83).
A tribute to alumni leaders, volunteers, partners, colleagues, and students.
IN THE NEWS
Mr Frank Koo with fellow alumnus, Mr Daniel Chia.
E D U TA I N M E N T CONCERTS 2017 Musical treats for the young and the young at heart.
THIRSTY T H U R S D AY S THE FIRST IN the series of Edutainment Concerts 2017 organised by the NUS Office of Alumni Relations performed to a full house of audience, both the young and the young at heart, at the auditorium of Shaw Foundation Alumni House on 11 March. More than 300 alumni and their families enjoyed a concert which began with ‘The Story of Babar, the Little Elephant’. The story was brought to live by renowned pianist, educator, conductor and composer Dr Robert Casteels, and narrator Mr Michael Cheng (Arts and Social Sciences ’02), Artistic Director of Tapestry Playback Theatre. For the second segment of the concert, audience were treated to a piano duet performance of ‘Jazz Tributes’ and cocktail suite performed by Dr Casteels and Mr Shane Thio, inaugural recipient of the 1992 Young Artist Award. The concert concluded with a lucky draw, with four children winning a pair of plush toys each. The second concert in this series, ‘A Journey of Vocal Music through the Ages’ will be held on 6 September.
Mr Ricky Lin (left) with guests.
This networking platform for young alumni is proving a hit for those seeking to make new friends and connections.
MORE THAN 120 alumni attended the first Thirsty Thursdays of 2017 on 16 February at KPO Café Bar. This popular event provides a platform for young alumni to spend an enjoyable evening catching up with old friends and networking with fellow alumni. The evening started with a welcome address by
Director of NUS Alumni Relations, Mr Bernard Toh (Architecture ’84), who introduced two successful alumni who were invited to share their professional journeys and experiences with their juniors. They were Mr Frank Koo (Business ’90), Head of Southeast Asia, Talent Solutions at Linkedin Asia Pacific; and Mr Ricky Lin (Design and Environment ’07), Founder and CEO of Nature’s Nest. Associate Professor Teo Chee Leong (Engineering ’80), Director of NUS Enterprise, also shared an interesting ground-up project with alumni and guests – The Philip Yeo Initiative which aims to identify and develop the next generation of Singapore’s leaders.
ALUMNI CAUGHT UP WITH OLD FRIENDS AND NETWORKED WITH FELLOW ALUMNI
Innovation comes in all shapes and sizes. NUS strives to be a locus of innovation by enhancing the quantity and quality of its research output, as well as offering an inventive approach to holistic education. In their everyday lives but no less significantly, NUS alumni are also pioneering new ways of doing things, impacting both the commercial and social sectors.
he thought of combining mindfulness in the workplace, the act of tea-drinking and empowerment in the deaf community sounds outlandish by any stretch of the imagination. Even Ms Anthea Ong (Business ’90) had her doubts when she brought this idea to fruition in 2014 through her ground-up movement, Hush TeaBar. Hush TeaBar hires hearing-impaired individuals, called ‘TeaRistas’, to guide participants through a silent tea-drinking session held at the latter’s office premises. When asked how she came up with such a novel idea, Ms Ong — an avid yoga practitioner, tea lover and regular volunteer for people with disabilities — calls it “a triangulation of interests”. More than that, however, she wanted to challenge the status quo
FAST FACT NUS IS RANKED 11TH IN THE REUTERS TOP 75: ASIA’S MOST INNOVATIVE UNIVERSITIES LIST (2016), WHICH RECOGNISES ASIAN UNIVERSITIES THAT ARE DOING THE MOST TO ADVANCE SCIENCE, INVENT NEW TECHNOLOGIES AND HELP DRIVE THE GLOBAL ECONOMY.
PROF HO TECK HUA
MS GRACE CIAO
MR HEW JOON YENG
DR TAN LAI YONG
which sees people normally charging money for yoga classes and silent meditation retreats. “Rarely is meditation used to empower the less-fortunate to believe in themselves. I also wanted to extend the practice of meditation to the workplace and bring self-awareness to individuals, so they can connect with who they really are and avoid work-related burnout,” says the 48-year-old. “Who better to teach the hearing about the value of silence than those whose world is absent of sound?” Ms Ong is, in her own small way, changing the existing state of affairs for the benefit of society — and this “intention to disrupt” lies at the heart of all innovations. From never-beforeseen ways in which NUS alumni are serving the community to the University’s growing commercialisation of academic research and its new model of campus living, NUS’ reputation as a hotbed of innovation is well earned.
MR LYON LIM
DISRUPTORS B Y
W A N D A
T A N
MS ANTHEA ONG
MS MIZAH RAHMAN APR-JUN 2017
Ms Ciao’s designs use flower petals to mimic the soft folds of fabric.
WHERE RESEARCH ENDS A N D I N N O VAT I O N B E G I N S
PROF HO TECK HUA, 55 ENGINEERING ’85
PEOPLE OFTEN CONFLATE innovation with creativity. But Professor Ho Teck Hua (Engineering ’85), Deputy President (Research and Technology) of NUS, makes a clear distinction between the two terms. “Innovation refers to a novel idea that is meant to solve a specific problem or pain point for a group of people. While innovation requires creative people to invent a solution, not all creative ideas are innovations because they do not always make people’s lives better,” he explains. Prof Ho, 55, draws the line between an “out-of-thebox idea” that stops short of creating value and a “purposeful innovation”, such as the mobile phone. Research is therefore a precursor for innovation:
“Research involves converting valuable resources into creative ideas and intellectual property. Only when these are converted back into tangible benefits, or when economic and societal value is created and captured, does an innovation arise.” Multiple pathways to commercialisation are available for academic researchers: CURIOSITY-DRIVEN PATHWAY Researchers work on an
intellectually-stimulating problem and patent their solution or “crazy idea”, not knowing whether it has commercial application. Industries show interest in the patent and partner academic researchers to develop, test and refine a prototype, before rolling out the product.
Claim to fame: Building a culture of research excellence as Deputy President (Research and Technology), NUS Advice for aspiring innovators: “Research should be driven by passion. If you are excited about what you do, you will be resilient to failure and will keep trying until you reach a solution.”
PHOTO BY KELVIN CHIA
Research should be driven by passion. If you are excited about what you do, you will be resilient to failure and will keep trying until you reach a solution.
A company presents a welldefined pain point or challenge to academics, who then produce innovative solutions. N US has established three oncampus corporate laboratories in partnership with Sembcorp, Keppel and Singtel, respectively. GRAND CHALLENGE PATHWAY R esearchers attempt to solve
a problem that is high in both intellectual value (very difficult) and translational value (useful for a lot of people). T his type of research usually leads to radical and non-trivial innovations, such as discovering a cure for cancer. “My aim is to get more academic researchers to embark on their own grand challenges,” says Prof Ho.
“My office works with top researchers on developing ambitious research proposals, with the ultimate goal of generating more innovations for society.” In particular, emphasis is placed on multi-disciplinary research in eight clusters that addresses critical issues facing society today: ageing populations; Asian studies; biomedical sciences and translational medicine; finance and risk management; integrative sustainability solutions for energy, water and the environment; materials science; maritime studies; and smart nation capabilities. “NUS used to be primarily a teaching university, with modest research capabilities. However, in the last 25 years NUS has ramped up its research productivity,” says Prof Ho. “By developing a culture of excellence, we hope to attract and nurture more ‘superstars’ — researchers with big ideas and international stature — and maybe one of them will become a Nobel Prize winner.”
NUS’ RESEARCH OUTPUT IN 2015
THE ACCIDENTAL ARTIST THOUGH NOT AN ACADEMIC, petals in an Ms Grace Ciao’s (Business ’15) route to illustration I becoming a fashion illustrator resembles was working on.” that of a curiosity-driven researcher. The She posted a picture then-undergraduate was midway through of the design on Instagram as usual, her Bachelor of Business Administration and the number of ‘likes’ it received far (BBA) studies and appeared destined for a surpassed her expectations. The more career in banking — until a semester-long she worked with other flowers, the bigger exchange programme in the Netherlands her Instagram following grew. Not long reawakened her long-dormant love for after, her floral creations were featured on drawing and fashion. popular online sites like BuzzFeed — and “While on exchange, I travelled around fashion and lifestyle brands soon came Europe and saw a lot of street artists. I knocking. Ms Ciao took on assignments was fascinated by their work and would in her spare time during her final year happily stand nearby to watch them draw at NUS; with a steady flow of local and or paint,” recalls Ms Ciao, 25. Motivated international projects streaming in postto pick up a paintbrush again, graduation, the decision to give Claim to fame: she started uploading photos of up her banking job was ultimately An in-demand her fashion illustrations on her fashion illustrator an easy one. who uses real Instagram account. Having amassed 62,000 flower petals in Now widely known for her Instagram followers thus far, her designs unique designs merging fashion Ms Ciao collaborates with luxury Advice for with real flower petals, the idea brands such as Chanel and Jaegeraspiring innovators: “The came to her in a sudden moment LeCoultre on their marketing good thing about of inspiration. “One night as I sat campaigns, live illustration events going digital, drawing, I noticed a withering rose and merchandising initiatives. especially if you work in a on my desk. Inspired “Instagram is an amazing tool,” niche market in to immortalise she says. “It allows me to connect Singapore, is that its elegance, you can reach out with my audience and attract to global clients.” I incorporated the potential clients.”
MS GRACE CIAO, 25 Papers published in internationally-refereed journals
S$in external research
INVENTION DISCLOSURES APR-JUN 2017
COVER STORY ‘tech dummy’,” says Mr Hew, 30. “To get the best of both worlds, he interned at an IT firm while I was an intern at an education consulting company.” The duo later took a one-year leave of absence from the BSc (Honours) in Life Sciences programme to further hone Claim to fame: SOMETIMES A GRAND challenge may morph into their business idea. Co-creators of a less drastic but still very useful innovation. This is “Because of limited resources, we ended up Pigeonhole Live, what happened to Mr Hew Joon Yeng and Mr Lyon Lim zooming in on interactive Q&A as the one thing for a web-based interactive Q&A tool (both Science ’10), who had initially bonded over their us to excel at,” says Mr Lim, 32. “There was a lot of used in conferences shared passion for equitable distribution of education hype then surrounding touchscreen smartphones, and meetings materials via e-learning. To find out how to turn their so we created a prototype, Pigeonhole Live, for this worldwide idea into a feasible business, they attended the iLEAD platform.” Following a successful trial of the prototype Advice for aspiring innovators: (innovative Local Enterprise Achiever Development) at a local conference, the two pivoted their target “Anything that Programme — now known as NUS Overseas College market from the classroom to the conference hall. makes a process (NOC) Singapore — in 2009. In October 2010, having secured incubation and easier, cheaper or better for end-users As part of the iLEAD Programme, they each funding assistance from NUS Enterprise, they left the qualifies as a nugget completed a seven-month internship at a local startHonours programme and jointly set up PigeonLab to of innovation.” up. “Lyon was a self-taught programmer, but I was a commercialise their product. Pigeonhole Live has since been used in more than 4,000 conferences, MR HEW JOON YENG, 30 company town halls and other events in & M R LY O N L I M , 3 2 over 40 countries. “Participants can use SCIENCE ’10 the app to anonymously ask questions and vote for those posted by others, solving the problem of people either being too shy to speak up or blabbering away during Q&A sessions,” says Mr Hew. Newer features including real-time polling and surveys have also been added in recent years. Despite moving in a different direction from what they had set out to do, Mr Hew and Mr Lim have not forgotten their original dream of improving in-class learning. They have actually gone some way to achieving that in the tertiary education setting: Pigeonhole Live is now used in quarterly U@live sessions at NUS, enabling richer discussions between guest speakers and the audience.
Our intent is not to make every undergrad become a social worker but rather groom them to be more engaged employees.
PHOTO BY MARK LEE
ASKED AND ANSWERED
D R TA N L A I YO N G , 5 6
M O U L D I N G A N I N N O VAT I V E M I N D S E T INNOVATION IS BY nature a collaborative endeavour. Just as Mr Hew and Mr Lim leveraged their complementary skills in choosing their iLEAD internships, Mr Lim says, “We worked with customers to shape the product during the prototyping phase. Their input helped in designing the user interface, deciding which features to include as well as setting the price.” A successful collaboration is one in which all parties keep an open mind,
bounce ideas off one another and accept different points of view. This is vital for innovation — and it is also part and parcel of the residential college experience. In 2011, NUS became the first university in Singapore to offer a residential college system, under which undergraduates staying in the same college participate in a unique academic programme in lieu of the General Education modules required for most NUS
degree programmes. Out-of-class learning opportunities and social activities also abound, fostering a close-knit community. The strength of the residential college system is that it promotes idea exploration and personal growth. “We try to create an affirmative, secure and safe environment, allowing for dialogue and action; for failure and to learn from failure,” says Dr Tan Lai Yong (Medicine ’85),
Claim to fame: Providing a holistic education as Senior Lecturer and Director for Outreach and Community Engagement, College of Alice & Peter Tan, NUS Advice for aspiring innovators: “Keep an ear to the ground and take ownership of challenges in the community.”
Resident Fellow of the College of Alice and Peter Tan (CAPT), one of five residential colleges at NUS. “The academic programme also challenges their views. Through small-group learning, we can nudge students to speak freely and facilitate interactive discussions.” All five residential colleges each has their own vision and are anchored to a two-year livingand-learning curriculum. CAPT students undergo the University Town College Programme, which reflects the College’s focus on active citizenship and community engagement. As Senior Lecturer at CAPT, Dr Tan teaches modules in which students tackle issues like inequality and social exclusion while visiting vulnerable groups such as the elderly and migrant workers. He also encourages students to volunteer at the grassroots level in his capacity as Director for Outreach and Community Engagement. Dr Tan, 56, describes the College’s ethos as “a tool to provide holistic education”. Students are equipped with soft skills and values such as empathy, compassion and community spirit are encouraged, backing up the technical or hard skills acquired through their degree programmes. “Our intent is not to make every undergrad become a social worker but rather groom them to be more engaged employees in the different sectors that they go into,” he says. “So next time, for example, they will know how to help a colleague whose parent has dementia or whose child has learning difficulties.”
FOR MS MIZAH RAHMAN (Design and Environment ’09), community engagement is not just a desirable trait but a key element of the nonprofit organisation she co-founded. Participate in Design (P!D) is similar to a design studio in that it provides consultancy services for the built environment. But instead of working with private-sector clients on commercially-driven projects, P!D’s partners include government agencies, grassroots organisations, educational institutions and civic groups. Together, they bring the community into the design process of public and interior spaces, products and art installations. “Participatory design is not a new concept; it is already practised in cities such as New York and Tokyo. But prior to P!D, there was no organisation in Singapore’s design landscape advocating a community-centric approach to design,” says Ms Rahman, 31. “Jan [Lim (Design and Environment ’09)] and I set up P!D in 2012 to fill this gap. Registering as a non-profit meant we could focus on our advocacy role.” Ms Rahman and Ms Lim are both Architecture graduates; after a year in the workforce, they returned to NUS in 2010 to pursue their Master’s degree. It was while collaborating on their Master’s thesis — a neighbourhood planning project in MacPherson estate
I N N O VAT I O N R E Q U I R E S IMAGINATION
PUTTING THE ‘SOCIAL’ IN DESIGN
MS MIZAH RAHMAN, 31 DESIGN AND ENVIRONMENT ’09
Claim to fame: Co-founder of Participate in Design, a local non-profit organisation that advocates the design of community-owned spaces
The community kitchen at Pacific Activity Centre @ Yishun Greenwalk.
Advice for aspiring innovators: “Do not assume you know everything. You are bound to face challenges and learn from them along the way.”
— that they began experimenting with participatory design methods to capture residents’ ideas. For several years, the pair kept up their involvement in participatory design projects as an “afterwork hobby” while holding full-time jobs (Ms Rahman as a research assistant at NUS, Ms Lim as a designer), before eventually devoting all their efforts to P!D. They have to date initiated 23 participatory design projects in 13 neighbourhoods. Examples include ‘The Hour Glass Kitchen’, a project commissioned by the National Council of Social Service for Pacific Activity Centre @ Yishun Greenwalk to co-create a community kitchen with elderly users; and ‘Welcome to Our Backyard!’, an ongoing partnership with MacPherson Citizens’ Consultative Committee to transform an under-utilised plot of land in Aljunied Crescent by soliciting input from the community. “Our aim is to change Singapore one neighbourhood at a time,” says Ms Rahman. “The more we involve people who are typically left out of the decision-making process, the more transparent we are making the design process, and so the more meaningful the outcome.”
GOING BACK TO Hush TeaBar, its founder Ms Anthea Ong is likewise making plans to expand its outreach beyond the workplace. Her next initiative, #Young&Hush, will bring the Hush experience to institutes of higher learning across Singapore in order to improve the mental health of youth as well as forge a more inclusive, caring society. Hush TeaBar was initially conceived as a “social experiment”, or an informal movement comprising a few like-minded people. Currently run as a social enterprise — or as she prefers, an “impact business” — Ms Ong employs a small team of former volunteers and TeaRistas to perform bookkeeping and logistics functions. She envisions Hush TeaBar
Innovation means having the ability to imagine a better possibility than where we are.
MS ANTHEA ONG, 48 BUSINESS ’90
Claim to fame: Founder of Hush TeaBar, a social movement that promotes tea meditation while bringing together the hearing and the hearingimpaired Advice for aspiring innovators: “If you have a seemingly impossible idea, start small and work your way up through incremental innovations or stepping stones.”
Hush TeaBar’s tea is sustainably sourced from Sri Lanka.
eventually becoming a cooperative owned by the deaf community. During her university days in the late 1980s, the residential college system was nowhere near reality. Nevertheless, there were plenty of chances to explore new ideas and liberate the mind. “The BBA programme, as well as my involvement in NUS Students’ Union activities and faculty bashes, gave me opportunities to be disruptive,” says Ms Ong, who left the corporate world in 2013. “I was given space to discover better ways of doing things while having fun at the same time.” Having straddled the private and social sectors, Ms Ong concludes that one thing is true of innovation in general: “Innovation means having the ability to imagine a better possibility than where we are. It is about coming up with new products and services not just for the sake of change, but to serve the community.”
hat is Givola Labs and why did you start it? In 2009, my NUS classmate Pong Yu Ming (Engineering ’09) and I were struck by an article in The New York Times that said toothpaste was being peddled with more sophistication than the lifesaving work of aid groups. That inspired us to help charitable causes leverage on technology to get their message across to more people. That year, we co-created GIVE.Asia, an online platform that made donating easier and more accessible. Since then, it has facilitated over S$15 million in donations to many causes, among them animal welfare groups and children’s societies. More than 250,000 individual donors and 100 corporates use the platform regularly. Working on GIVE.Asia showed us that technology is vital to social change. Yu Ming and I then decided to expand our services to help more companies embrace
Mr Aseem Thakur, 30, is a familiar face in the international non-profit technology scene. He speaks at conferences and coauthors articles about ways to take the sector forward. GIVE.Asia, the peer-to-peer philanthropy platform he co-founded, has received several awards, such as Start-Up@Singapore Social Enterprise Challenge 2009 and a President’s Challenge Social Enterprise Special Mention Award in 2010. His latest venture, Givola Labs, has provided digital solutions to major firms like MetLife and UBS. In his free time, the karate black belt holder also enjoys playing soccer.
How does Givola Labs bring about social change? At Givola Labs, we’re selective about the clients and projects we take on. It’s not about how much money we’re getting, but how much of a social impact the finished product has. For instance, we created a technical platform for FundedHere. This platform connects investors with Asian start-ups — which can create new jobs and improve the lives of thousands in the region. FundedHere is an example of a digital product with a positive impact and we are excited to work on products like these. But we are quick to turn down clients that are creating products just to make money, like generic content apps.
BUSINESS Mr Aseem Thakur
(Engineering ’09) is spreading the word that technology has the power
A S H U T O S H
R A V I K R I S H N A N
MAIN PHOTO BY MARK LEE
to make a difference.
Having a driven and excited team is more important than taking on every project with a big dollar value.
technology, which is why we co-founded Givola Labs in 2015. It’s an innovation consultancy that provides digital services and solutions to government agencies, start-ups and Small-toMedium Enterprises. Products we create include apps, websites and digital platforms.
WHO IS HE?
Some might say that it may not be business-savvy to be so selective with your clients… I’d argue that having a driven and excited team is more important than taking on every project with a big dollar value. The best way to inspire your team is to choose projects that they believe in, and that they are motivated to be a part of. We definitely considered the business impact of [having] a smaller pool of clients, but we counter this by making an effort to be well-known in the international non-profit technology scene. I meet potential clients, speak at conferences and attend network sessions constantly to get the word out about Givola Labs. This pays off as we have developed a good portfolio of clients. Many
Mr Thakur introducing the basics of online fundraising to young volunteers.
of our recent projects have come through referrals and positive word-of-mouth. How do you ensure that the message of doing good business reaches your entire team? It begins right at the hiring process. At interviews, we ask [potential hires] about the kind of projects they’ve worked on in the past. Their answers often give us a very clear indication [of] where their interests and concerns lie. Our 20 ‘Givolians’, as we call our staff, are all eager to make a difference. We also involve them in the decision-making process through an internal policy that allows staff to voice concerns about a potential client or project. This way, everyone’s heart is in the final project. What are some of the causes that you care about? I’m interested in making healthcare more accessible and effective — we’re working on a project to use artificial intelligence to improve cancer diagnosis, which is really exciting. But the challenge in the healthcare sector is that best practices may not always be shared among organisations. I hope that we can tap on technology to eventually change this. How did studying Engineering at NUS prepare you for your current role? I think it made me a better problem-solver. At its core,
engineering is about the concept of cause and effect. Understanding this helps you engineer an effective solution. This applies to start-ups as well, where you’re constantly experimenting to find new solutions. NUS also widened my perspectives and made me realise that we need to consider the broader implications of the technology we create. There’s no denying that technology now shapes society — the question is, will it make the world a more equitable place? At Givola Labs, we hope to make that answer a ‘yes’. You use technology to bring about social change — do you then consider yourself a ‘changemaker’? I think a changemaker is someone who tries to change things and help people in need, so I definitely am one. But I’m not alone — there are hundreds of thousands of people who do the same every day. I believe there’s a changemaker in all of us — we just need to find that spark to start making a difference.
WHAT’S IN A NAME “‘Givola’ comes from a Hebrew word that means ‘budding’. It is in line with our mission of helping our clients grow. The word ‘Labs’ refers to innovation and learning through experimentation — traits that we hope to instil in our team.”
PURSUIT OF EXCELLENCE
THE NUMBERS D O T H E TA L K I N G The Carousell story told through some key figures
Carousell co-founder Mr Lucas Ngoo’s
(Engineering ’12) passion for digital
ech innovation is never far from the mind of Mr Lucas Ngoo, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Carousell. Just five minutes into this interview, he reaches for his smartphone, and his eyes light up as he explains its growing capabilities and the opportunities such a device offers. “Imagine just scanning a phone through a room to sell a second-hand TV or an old guitar — this would make listing an item on Carousell easier than ever,” he says, referring to the use of object recognition technology to capture an item’s value and then share it online. Currently, it takes Carousell users just 30 seconds to put up a basic listing — with his team of 40 engineers and developers, Mr Ngoo is working to reduce this timing further. The 28-year-old is one of three cofounders of the popular peer-to-peer (P2P) sales platform. Keeping up with digital innovation is natural to the trio, since Carousell was born in response to evolving technology, namely the smartphone revolution of the late 2000s. “Smartphones changed the game. A mobile phone with a camera and GPS capabilities, all in one device — it was unheard of,” he tells The AlumNUS. “But it offered new opportunities.” Mr Ngoo seized these opportunities in 2012, when
1 1 . 5 3 PM
TECH B Y A S H U T O S H R A V I K R I S H N A N
When the three co-founders would leave the office in Carousell’s early days, to be able to catch the last train home.
the number of people working on the product in Singapore — this is set to double by 2018.
SECONDS ALL THE TIME IT TAKES TO LIST AN ITEM: SELLERS ONLY NEED TO PROVIDE A PHOTO, A DESCRIPTION AND THEIR ASKING PRICE.
S$ M I L L I O N THE AMOUNT THE FIRM RECEIVED FROM INVESTORS LIKE SEQUOIA INDIA AND RAKUTEN VENTURES DURING ITS SERIES B FUNDING EFFORTS.
WHO IS HE? Hailing from Port Dickson, Malaysia, Mr Ngoo is a self-professed techie. While at NUS, he spent a year as a software engineering intern at two start-ups in California. He brings to Carousell a keen interest in product and software development, and is excited to use data science to solve problems. But before he can get cracking on Carousell’s technological developments, he needs one thing to start the day: “A latte,” he says latte with a laugh.
MAIN PHOTO BY MARK LEE
innovation was sparked at NUS.
THE APP’S CURRENT TOTAL LISTINGS ARE SPREAD OUT ACROSS 1 9 C I T I E S , INCLUDING SYDNEY, HONG KONG AND TAIPEI.
he joined Mr Quek Siu Rui (Business ’12) and Mr Marcus Tan (Business ’11) to launch Carousell. The app’s simple premise — to give smartphone users a fuss-free portal to buy and sell items — took off instantly and Carousell is now one of the world’s largest community marketplaces with over 57 million listings in 19 cities around the world. As further proof of its success, “Carousell it” has entered the lexicon of smartphone users in the region, much like “Google it” did a few years ago (for those still unfamiliar with the term, it means ‘to sell an unwanted good’).
CHANGING FOR THE FUTURE “Carousell became popular at the same time that e-commerce did. People bought too many things and the logical next step was to sell their excess goods. For many, Carousell was a simple way to do this,” says Mr Ngoo, of the reason for the app’s success. In its early days, most of Carousell’s transactions were for everyday items like clothes and books, but recently, the app’s listings have included big-ticket items like cars. Realising an opportunity for growth, the company introduced Carousell Motors in February 2017. “We found that the current [Carousell] platform was too simple for such a big purchase. Carousell Motors lets sellers include details about the mileage and specifications of a car, which you wouldn’t need if you were selling something simpler,” says Mr Ngoo. It is clear from the conception of Carousell Motors that the start-up reacts to change swiftly and decisively. But as Mr Ngoo points out, Carousell is also looking at ways to lead change. “You have to strike the right balance. While looking at the present and capitalising on what’s happening now, you also need to consider the future and prepare for it,” he notes. That future lies beyond Singapore: according to telecom giant Ericsson, smartphone subscription in Southeast Asia and Oceania will reach 820 million by 2020, nearly double the 2015 figure. Understanding that many of these users will engage in P2P transactions, Carousell’s team is gearing up for nearly 400 million more users on the platform. This means preparing now for future challenges, among them varying network speeds and cultural differences between markets. “The next few months for us are about solving these problems, which will require us to localise Carousell for new markets,” says Mr Ngoo.
COMING FULL CIRCLE But while the regional market offers room for growth, technological advancements will sustain growth, especially in mature markets like
Singapore. “As Carousell grows and reaches more people, we need to take advantage of digital innovations to stay relevant,” Mr Ngoo says. When thinking of how to apply these innovations to Carousell’s business model, Mr Ngoo puts himself in the shoes of a young engineer. “I ask myself how someone would create Carousell today — which programmes they would use and which ones they would stay away from,” he says, adding that the platform’s next stage of growth will be driven by artificial intelligence, with elements of augmented reality. “These features will cut down the time spent by users to buy and sell. That’s the joy of technology and programming: it really can make lives better.” The joys offered by technology was something he discovered during his time at NUS. “My first Computer Science lecturer really sparked my interest in programming. This was piqued further during my year at the NUS Overseas College in Silicon Valley, where people were constantly coding and talking about ideas, problems and innovation.” This atmosphere of innovation is something that Mr Ngoo and his fellow co-founders hope to recreate in Singapore with a series of regular “Tech Talks”. These sharing sessions let engineers and developers network and discuss best practices. It’s the company’s way of giving back to the local start-up ecosystem that nurtured Carousell in its early days. “It’s us coming full circle — on a carousel, maybe,” he quips.
FA S T FA C T For founding the app, Mr Ngoo (centre) and Mr Quek (left) made it to Forbes’ inaugural 30 Under 30 Asia list last year. They were recognised in the consumer tech category of the list, which honoured promising young leaders. Mr Tan did not make the list as he is over 30.
ONCE UPON A MEMORY
A BALL OF A T I M E
Yusof Ishak House (YIH) is a vibrant student hub that houses the NUS Students’ Union (NUSSU), as well as various student facilities and offices. STUDENT SERVICE CENTRE
NUS was where Mr Benedict Boo (Arts and Social Sciences ’97) developed his interest in the English Language, and wooed his wife-to-be. B Y
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Students can visit the centre to pay tuition bills, apply for campus accommodation and seek help on other academic or administrative matters, such as getting a transcript of academic records and replacing the matric card.
B U S S T O P AT YUSOF ISHAK HOUSE This is one of the most memorable places on campus for Mr Boo as this was where, in 1994, he saw Ms Tan (also above), for the first time. “It has been more than 20 years but I still remember vividly my first sight of her. She took my breath away,” he says. Her good looks caught his eye, but he fell for her “real, pure and loving” character. Ms Tan shares the backstory: “Ben was chatting with a mutual friend on IRC (an online chatting app), and they decided to meet for lunch. She dragged me along and I was supposed to be the chaperone!” The trio then ate at a now-defunct cafe in Yusof Ishak House. The couple, who were both in the Campus Crusade for Christ (now known as NUS Cru) community, spent most of their time at Central Forum with the other members. Mr Boo remembers it as the default place to head to between classes.
MR BENEDICT BOO, 43, MANAGER AT AMMOLITE RESOURCE GROUP
THE CENTRE FOR FUTUREREADY GRADUATES (CFG)
The CFG offers workshops to equip students with personal and professional skills, as well as job opportunities through events like networking sessions and talks. Undergraduates can make an appointment to meet with an advisor to discuss and plan their career goals. For the ‘Superkicks’ series, Mr Boo drew inspiration from his personal experience, including playing Sepak Takraw as an undergraduate. The second book is scheduled to be published this year.
S E PA K TA K R AW C O U R T
CENTRAL LIBRARY The multi-disciplinary Central Library, near the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, was the study area of choice. “My study sessions there were always productive, maybe because I was surrounded by books and students who were also revising,” Mr Boo says. It was also where he nurtured his love for writing.
P H OTO S BY H O N G C H E E YA N
or someone who is passionate about sports and writing, it is little wonder that crafting footballrelated storybooks is “a dream come true”. Mr Benedict Boo is the co-author of ‘Superkicks’ — a children’s fiction series that promotes an active lifestyle and qualities such as resilience and loyalty. The chance to work on the series was offered by the series co-author Mr Don Bosco (Arts and Social Sciences ’84), who he met at his previous job at a publishing house. Mr Boo enjoys playing football and is also an avid runner who has completed several ultra-marathons. Sports helped to build his character and given him many light-bulb moments. For example, pushing himself during a run has taught him perseverance. “When I feel like I cannot take another step, I take a short break, and then find the strength to go on. We don’t know our potential until we stretch ourselves to our limits,” he says. Into sports since he was young, the same however cannot be said about Mr Boo’s interest in the English Language. “Prior to university, I studied in the science stream to please my parents – even though scoring well for my compositions was more satisfying than cracking Science questions.” In NUS, he studied what interested him most, and majored in English Language and Economics, with Sociology as a minor. “Entering NUS was a significant turning point in my life. The invigorating English Language modules were the main catalyst for my interest in publishing and education. I believe this eventually led to me co-authoring ‘Superkicks’,” Mr Boo says. Another life-changing event was meeting his wife, Ms Jernes Tan (Business ’97). They have been married for 15 years and have two sons aged 13 and 10.
Mr Boo stayed in Kent Ridge Hall in his freshman year. His block’s team needed players for Sepak Takraw during the Inter-block Games, so Mr Boo was recruited — despite never having played before. “The team comprised a group of hapless guys… most of us had never touched a Sepak Takraw ball before,” he recalls. “But for block glory, we threw ourselves into learning the sport and putting our best foot forward. The camaraderie was amazing.” Needless to say, the team did not emerge as champion, but Mr Boo realised then that there is much to learn from new experiences. This takeaway was so impactful he weaved the idea into the first ‘Superkicks’ book, in which the lead character learns to embrace changes.
DISABILITY SUPPORT OFFICE (DSO)
Set up to promote an inclusive campus, DSO provides support to students with special needs. Services offered include guided orientations of wheelchairfriendly routes around campus, transport arrangements and financial assistance. PLAZA@YIH
This open-air area is often used for musical performances and events such as bazaars and orientation activities. NUSSU COMMITTEE FOR INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (COMMIT)
Computers, printers and scanning machines are available for common use. commIT also organises workshops and annual camps for software training.
s a child, I always had live-in domestic workers at home, sometimes even sharing a room with them. So I understood the power imbalance between migrant workers and their employers very early on. Once, my mother was unhappy with our then-helper and decided to terminate her contract. The helper burst into tears and asked for a second chance, but was still sent back. My mother wasn’t a cruel employer; in fact, she was quite ‘liberal’ compared to other employers at the time. She gave our helpers days off, well before the Government mandated it a few years ago, and in spite of her friends’ criticisms. But there was still a significant power imbalance. This imbalance nagged at me… [When] I asked my mother about it, she told me that was the way it was. And that’s a fairly typical view among some Singaporeans, even today. As I got older, I realised that if I saw a wrongdoing, I had to do something about it, or the vicious cycle would simply continue. I considered — and still consider — myself a privileged member of society, as I’ve had the fortune of a stable home and a tertiary education. So I see it as my responsibility to put this social capital to good use.
SALARY-RELATED CLAIMS INVOLVING
BELIEVING IN CHANGE S O U R C E : M INIST RY O F M A N P OW E R
IN 2016, THE MINISTRY OF MANPOWER RECEIVED
Acting Executive Director of Humanitarian Organisation
for Migration Economics (HOME) Mr Jolovan Wham S c i e n c e s ’ 0 4) , 3 7,
G N I V I
seeks to raise migrant worker issues to new
E A L B E R T B Y
A S H U T O S H R A V I K R I S H N A N
POINT B Y
P H O TO
A E M O H 22
That’s why I majored in Social Work at NUS. I went in with an open mind and was keen on learning about different social matters before choosing one to specialise in. But I found that the curriculum back then didn’t discuss a lot of issues, like those of minorities and migrant workers. Fortunately, I was able to learn about these issues at the Central Library, we haven’t always been met with a receptive audience. which stores extensive literature on these subjects. What do you do then? Do you get discouraged and back The Internet was another great resource that opened down? Of course not. I learnt at NUS that you can’t solve my eyes to the plight of these communities. It also everyone’s problems — and this lesson keeps me going. introduced me to the work of Ms Bridget Tan, who Changing practices and mindsets isn’t easy; it requires would later establish HOME. perseverance, persistence and patience. I met Ms Tan and told her I wanted The work we are doing now is laying T H E R OA D to get involved in migrant worker issues, LESS the foundation for future generations and she welcomed me to volunteer with T R AV E L L E D of changemakers — remember, women her group. I quickly understood the Milestones of Mr Wham’s didn’t get to vote overnight; it took constraints of volunteering: one can chosen path them nearly 100 years! only do so much, especially when there But in the interim, grassroots are laws and policies that need to be efforts to improve the lives of migrant addressed. That’s why I decided to delve workers do soothe the situation. EAGER TO SERVE into migrant worker rights full-time and DISADVANTAGED Some of these have been led by young joined HOME shortly after graduation. COMMUNITIES, people, who are creative with their The majority of the workers who MR WHAM JOINED methods. Art installations are held NUS’ SOCIAL WORK approach us at HOME are from the at dormitories to highlight the living PROGRAMME construction sector. More than half of conditions of migrant workers, while our cases in 2015 were victims of wage groups like Students for Migrants at i theft, in which employers unlawfully NUS run legal awareness workshops for withhold salaries. Also, these errant JOINED HOME, migrant workers. It’s very heartening WHERE HE employers may not pay the statutory and I think we’re making small INITIATED A rate for work on public holidays and steps as a society towards treating MEN’S SHELTER overtime — which are basic labour AND A HELPDESK migrant workers with more humanity rights. It’s quite a widespread problem, FOR CONSTRUCTION and respect. which shows how blatantly employers WORKERS However, I must emphasise that exploit migrant workers in Singapore. these are just stopgap measures and HOME raised awareness of this through not the broad, structural fixes that a position paper this year, which was MADE EXECUTIVE are needed. Unfortunately, it seems DIRECTOR OF picked up by the local media. that a crisis will need to occur before HOME, A POSITION The publicity helped us to connect concrete action is taken. Take the HE HELD FOR THE with community partners with similar NEXT FIVE YEARS. issue of live-in domestic workers and goals, and we will soon be meeting other HE NOW HOLDS window safety, which became a matter non-governmental organisations like THE POSITION OF of public concern in 2012. That year, 10 ACTING EXECUTIVE the Migrant Workers’ Centre to discuss domestic workers fell to their deaths DIRECTOR, AS HOME a strategy to fight the wage exploitation while cleaning windows. The Ministry WILL WELCOME A of migrant workers. Building a network NEW EXECUTIVE of Manpower then stepped in and of activists is important, because we DIRECTOR IN THE implemented laws to regulate windowcan’t do this alone. HOME is run by COMING MONTHS cleaning, and statistics show that these just five staff and we help over 4,000 measures have worked. I only hope beneficiaries every year — we wouldn’t that the ‘crisis’ that will end be able to get by without collaboration. the exploitation and abuse of migrant workers — when it HITTING A BRICK WALL comes — won’t be as dire. In my 12 years at HOME, we’ve lobbied Members of Parliament, held dialogues and tried to bring about positive change for migrant workers. But
(Arts and Social
HOME is run by just five staff and we help over 4,000 beneficiaries every year — we wouldn’t be able to get by without collaboration.
All NUS alumni aged 60 years and above are welcome to join NUS Senior Alumni activities. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch with Dr Khoo.
BE TT E R TOGET H ER
Networking and knowledgesharing are key for
NUS Overseas Colleges Alumni.
event attracted 149 participants who built innovative prototype apps, websites and software.
PAYING IT FORWARD
ON THE RADAR
SOME PROMINENT ALUMNI: NOC
Founders of Carousell, an online community marketplace (See page 18) — Mr Marcus Tan (Business ’11), Mr Quek Siu Rui (Business ’12), Mr Lucas Ngoo (Engineering ’12) Co-founder and CEO of ShopBack, a platform that gives cashback rewards for online purchases — Mr Henry Chan (Engineering ’10) Co-founder and CEO of 99.co, a property-listing website and app — Mr Darius Cheung (Engineering ’04) Co-founder of All Deals Asia, an online deal portal — Ms Goh Yiping (Real Estate ’05) Co-founders of Milaap, an online micro-lending platform for the poor in India — Mr Anoj Viswanathan (Computing ’10) and Mr Sourabh Sharma (Computing ’04)
NOCA’s members come from many different faculties. But what they have in common are traits that define an entrepreneur — such as passion, persuasiveness Members interact and learn from each and determination. other at NOCA’s gettogether sessions. Exemplifying these is NOCA President Mr David Ding (Engineering ’10). The go-getter has interviewed over 50 NOCA etworking — the building of members to understand their expectations contacts and relationships and hopes for NOCA, marketed the use of — is an essential for any #NOCAlumni on social media, and led a entrepreneur. So it is campaign for the NOC community to add the unsurprising that the NUS programme to their LinkedIN profile — all in Overseas Colleges Alumni (NOCA) has over the three months since he was elected. 2,200 members, despite the NUS Overseas Mr Ding, who is Community and Colleges (NOC) programme having started Operations Hero at muru-D Singapore only in 2002. NOC gives undergraduates Global Startup Accelerator, took up the and postgraduates the opportunity to study position because he wanted to contribute overseas at NUS’ partner universities while his experience and knowledge to growing interning at technology-based start-ups. NOCA. “Alumni members would agree that NOCA was set up in 2003 by the pioneer their entrepreneurial skills have been honed batch to encourage alumni to contribute to through the life-changing NOC experience. the start-up scene in Singapore. The group So, having benefited from the programme, has since evolved and now aims to also foster we strongly believe in paying it forward,” relationships among alumni, to support says Mr Ding, 33. alumni in achieving their entrepreneurial One of the ways members give goals, as well as to facilitate communication back is by sharing their experiences at among alumni, NUS and business partners. recruitment roadshows with students who To do so, NOCA organises monthly meetare considering enrolment in the NOC ups and events such as the speaker series programme. A mentorship programme where guests and alumni share insights. to match younger alumni with more An annual anniversary celebration and experienced alumni who can coach and give biennial reunion dinner are also on the them advice is also being planned. group’s calendar. NOCA also plans public events such as Get in touch with the NUS Overseas Colleges 2016’s inaugural HackFestSG competition community through its Facebook page at that it co-organised with NOC. The 30-hour facebook.com/NUSOverseasColleges.
ong before NUS as we know it today took shape, it went through several name changes including Raffles College (1928– 1949) and the University of Singapore (1962–1980). NUS Senior Alumni is the only alumni group to have graduates from those early days. The AlumNUS speaks to 74-year-old Dr Rosemary Khoo (Arts and Social Sciences ’65), a retired educationist and its founding President, to learn about this special group.
Senior alumni at Sep 2016 Tea & Chat session with speaker Dr Christina Lim (in white).
NUS Senior Alumni helps our senior graduates bond with one another and with their alma mater, and learn about its development.
BY S ENIO R S , FO R S EN IO R S
NUS Senior Alumni is calling
the Pioneer Generation back t o t h e i r a l m a m a t e r.
NUS Deputy President (Academic Affairs) and Provost Professor Tan Eng Chye and Dr Rosemary Khoo chatting with senior alumni before the former’s talk in February 2016.
How did the NUS Senior Alumni group come about? When the Shaw Foundation Alumni House (SFAH) first opened, many alumni did not know of our new home on campus. I also felt Dr Khoo with the 2017 NUS Senior Alumni Committee and Resource Persons. NUS needed to know its early graduates from the Raffles College and University of Singapore also support the Home Nursing Foundation (HNF), which days, and get them to return. With the encouragement of brings nursing care services to the homes of elderly needy the Office of Alumni Relations, I gathered a small group patients. For the past four years, we have participated in of senior alumni friends to SFAH for an informal tea and HNF’s hamper donation initiative. sharing session in August 2009. Since then, there have been Tea & Chat sessions on various topics every month and my compilation of contacts expanded with time. What can senior alumni gain by joining the group? The NUS Senior Alumni was formed in 2011. NUS Senior Alumni helps our senior graduates bond with one another and with their alma mater, and learn about What activities do group members engage in? its development. I have been inspired by the indomitable We meet at least once a month. Our activities are varied spirit of those who attend our events in wheelchairs or and include autobiography-writing workshops, overseas use a walking frame. I hope senior graduates will come tours and excursions, and focus-group discussions forward to lead the group and develop it in other ways. with the Ministry of Health. In 2015, we published our Many in our group need to be exposed to new ideas in a commemorative fifth-anniversary volume, I M AGE. We world that is changing exponentially.
For information on making a gift to NUS, please contact 1800-DEVELOP (1800-338-3567) or email email@example.com
ALUMNI SCENE GIVING
Her 11 years of overseas experience fuelled a yearning in her to learn more about her Chinese roots and heritage, so upon her early retirement in 2002, she decided to pursue a Masters degree in Chinese Studies in 2009 — studying alongside her two daughters while they were doing their Law degrees at NUS. Today, Ms Chen actively serves as the President of the NUS Chinese Studies Alumni Association, a member of the NUS Senior Alumni, and the Secretary General of the Singapore Leong Khay Huay Kuan Education Trust Fund. “After retiring early, I started volunteering in parents’ support groups in schools and clan associations, while also finding time to pursue knowledge. One thing led to another, and I became involved in societies and alumni
THE CHEN SING WU CHINESE STUDIES SCHOLARSHIP To honour Mr Chen’s love for knowledge and for the community
A write-up on Mr Chen Sing Wu in the Chang Chow
General Association’s publication in 1948. groups. I reconnected with old alumni and have made many new friends. It is a very refreshing journey, though it has kept me very busy,” she says. “I never thought I would be serving in our clan association, after my father’s passing,” she adds, referring to her current role as Vice-Chairman of the Chang Chow General Association. “I was very fortunate to have grown up in a privileged environment as did my children. HONOURING It is so important that we do A LIFE OF not forget about those in need DISTINCTION and help them as much as we can. Never was I able to imagine in my younger days, that someday DIPLOMAT, BANKER AND I would have the passion, and be in COMMUNITY LEADER, a position to do something like this, M R CHEN SING WU WAS to honour my late father, as well as TIRELESS IN HIS EFFORTS to help others. I would like to think TO IMPROVE THE LIVES OF that this is the beginning of a new THE LESS-FORTUNATE journey,” Ms Chen adds.
SCHOLARSHIP IN HONOUR OF PROMINENT
COMM U NI T Y L E AD E R M s C h e n Te c k S h i n g ( A r t s a n d S o c i a l
Sciences ’72) has set up the Chen Sing Wu Chinese Studies Scholarship to honour h e r l a t e f a t h e r, M r C h e n S i n g Wu , w h o was a man always willing to help others. e was a very busy man, yet he always had time for others — that is how Ms Chen Teck Shing describes her father, Mr Chen Sing Wu. “He didn’t do much for himself and he wouldn’t have dreamt that I would do this for him — to honour his love for knowledge and for the community with this scholarship,” says Ms Chen, who is the eldest of his three children. Ms Chen, who majored in Chinese Studies and History, set up the scholarship at the Department
of Chinese Studies, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Born in 1911 in Zhangzhou, in the former county of Haicheng which is in Fujian province, Mr Chen loved Chinese culture, history and the arts. In his younger days, he served as a diplomat for the then-Republic of China. Mr Chen was sent to Southeast Asia to oversee the affairs of overseas Chinese in the cities of Pontianak, Surabaya, and Cirebon in Indonesia. He was elected the President of the Pontianak Chinese General Association (Zhonghua Gonghui), President of Chen Clan Association,
Director of the Pontianak Fujian Association (Fujian Huiguan), among many others. He also founded Cheng Bao, a daily Chinese newspaper in Pontianak. Mr Chen subsequently became a banker after he settled in Singapore in the latter part of the 1940s. He was the Chief Liaison Officer at Chung Khiaw Bank (known as a comprador in those days), and then worked as the Business Advisor to OCBC’s Chairman Tan Sri Tan Chin Tuan. A keen reader, Mr Chen was an avid arts collector. Despite his busy and high profile career, he never stopped serving the community in Singapore. He became an active member of Chinese business associations and clubs, including serving more than a decade as Chairman of the Chang Chow General Association and the United Chinese Library. His daughter Ms Chen followed in his footsteps, and worked as a banker in Singapore and New York for 25 years.
Class Reunion Reminisce. Reconnect. Reunite.
ALUMNI SCENE GIVING
Join in the NUS Everest team’s efforts. FIND OUT MORE AT www.generosity.com/educationfundraising/school-everest-sfirst-female-sherpa-doctors
climb, the NUS Everest team are funding the education for the children of their Sherpa guides. B Y
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A decade after their historic
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entrepreneur, who is also the first Singaporean to reach the peak. While each climber had a personal load of 15 kg, their Sherpa guides carried between 20 to 30 kg each. The Sherpas also ferried supplies such as food and oxygen tanks for the expedition between the different stages of the climb, climbing up and down repeatedly between different camps on the way to the peak, and exposing themselves to greater risk of an avalanche or glacier movements. The Sherpas are especially important if there is bad weather. “You are never quite sure what the conditions in the mountain
The entire NUS Everest team with their Sherpa guides.
Pangboche Village, 4,000 m above sea level.
NUS to summit successfully was Mr Lindley Zerbe, who was an associate scientist at NUS at the time. The other two team members were Mr Ernest Quah Wei Siong (Science ’04) and Mr Ee Khong Lean (Arts and Social Sciences ’03). The team left large tips for their guides, but upon their return to Singapore, decided they wanted to do more for the Sherpas. Because they had climbed Everest with the support of NUS, the climbers decided that they would, in turn, fund the education for the children of two of their guides, Mr Ang Chirring Kami Sherpa and Mr Pemba Sherpa. Thanks to their efforts, Mingma Sherpa, 20, is graduating soon as a hydroelectric engineer while his younger sister Doma, 19, will graduate with a hospitality degree in two years’ time. Mr Chow met them last October in Kathmandu. Both are children of Mr Kami Sherpa, the leader of the Sherpa team and Mr Chow’s personal Sherpa guide during the expedition. The NUS Everest team is also supporting Karma Chuttin Sherpa and Lhakpha Sherpa. Karma, 16, is also the daughter of Mr Kami Sherpa while Lhakpha, 17, is the daughter of Mr Pemba Sherpa. Karma is now studying in a private school in Kathmandu while Lhakpha is preparing for the nationwide medical school entrance examination. Mr Chow says Lhakpa hopes to be a neurosurgeon as she feels the profession would have the maximum impact on her people. Karma wants to set up a clinic in her village of Pangboche, which is 4,000 m above sea level. If she
succeeds, the village and its 7,000 residents will get its first medical facility. Currently, the nearest hospital is a day or two away. The need for a trained medical professional in the village is also a personal cause for Karma who was born in a breech position and had to be delivered by her father. Mr Kami Sherpa, a 51-year-old part-time farmer, still works as a mountain guide on Everest. His wife cried when she met Mr Chow, his wife and three-year-old daughter in Pangboche last October. “I know we have affected their children’s lives on a permanent basis, ” says Mr Chow. Raising the money to send Karma and Lhakpa to medical school is a new mountain for the NUS Everest team to climb though. They hope to raise about S$200,000 by August 2017 to cover the fees for the two women’s six years of education. Mr Chow has set up a webpage on crowdfunding website Generosity.com to raise the money but after four months, they have only reached one per cent of their goal. Mr Chow hopes that spreading the word to other NUS alumni will help them reach their goal. Donors can pledge any amount by visiting the crowdfunding page. The NUS climbing team summited Everest a little over a decade ago, so it may seem surprising they are still involved in trying to help their Sherpa guides. But as Mr Chow explains, “Kami and the Sherpas helped us achieve our dream and the dream of NUS. I believe we should pay it forward and help the next generation of Sherpas.”
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Lhakpa (left) and Kama.
can be like,” says Mr Stefen Chow (Engineering ‘03), who also made it to the top. “We summited on a very clear day but if you have a whiteout, where visibility drops to under five metres, having a Sherpa is absolutely essential,” says the 37-year-old who is now a Beijing-based photographer. The Sherpas also provide psychological support to climbers. “On the actual day I summited, I was with my Sherpa and he was like my personal trainer,” recalls Mr Chow. “He made sure my pace was right. It was reassuring having him there.” Apart from Mr Teo and Mr Chow, the other member from
SCHOOLING EVEREST’S FIRST FEMALE SHERPA DOCTORS
P H OTO S
hen the team from NUS scaled Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak, in 2005 to mark NUS’ centennial year, it was a two-and-a-half month battle against the mountain and the elements. During the climb, the five-member team faced winds that occasionally reached speeds of between 60 and 100 km/h. As they got higher, the climb became increasingly harder because of the thinner air, and oxygen tanks were needed to supplement breathing. Close to the peak, which is 8,848 m above sea level, the temperature approaches minus 50°C. In the end, despite three years of intense preparation, two members of the team failed to summit. One pulled out because of frostbite at the threequarter point while the other had to abandon the expedition just hours away from the peak because of a faulty oxygen tank. That three of the original five eventually made it was thanks in no small part to their Sherpa guides. The Sherpas are an ethnic group in Nepal who work as guides on Everest. “The Sherpas were critical to the success of the expedition,” says Mr Teo Yen Kai (Engineering ‘07), who was one of the three to successfully summit. “Without the Sherpas, it would have been 10 times more difficult to climb the mountain,” adds the 36-year-old
Kami and the Sherpas helped us achieve our dream and the dream of NUS. I believe we should pay it forward and help the next generation of Sherpas. MR STEFEN CHOW (ENGINEERING ‘03)
U @ LIVE Mr Wagar discussed the future of American engagement in Asia.
STRONGER TO G E T H E R
Whether it’s to find a cure for cancer, develop the next big app or even go to Mars, no country can do it alone.
Then-US Ambassador to Singapore,
M r K i r k Wa g a r, i s a f i r m b e l i eve r i n the power of global cooperation. B Y
A S H U T O S H
FAST FACT MR KIRK WAGAR HIS ADDRESS WAS TITLED “PERSPECTIVES ON THE PACIFIC CENTURY” AND WAS ONE OF HIS LAST OFFICIAL ENGAGEMENTS AS AMBASSADOR.
MR KIRK WAGAR SPOKE ON 3 JANUARY 2017 AT THE SHAW FOUNDATION ALUMNI HOUSE IN NUS.
R A V I K R I S H N A N
s a first-time diplomat, Mr Kirk Wagar was relieved to learn that his first posting would be to Singapore. “I don’t know how well I would have done in another culture where ‘yes’ means ‘no’ and ‘no’ means ‘yes’,” joked the then US Ambassador to Singapore, who was described by U@live moderator Mr Viswa Sadasivan (Arts and Social Sciences ’83) as being “brutally honest”. Mr Wagar was already familiar with the Republic before he arrived here in 2013, having read widely on its history and culture. “One of the first things I did when I found out about my posting was to read founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s memoir, From Third World to First,” he said. Meeting Mr Lee several months later would prove to be one of the most memorable experiences of Mr Wagar’s three-and-ahalf year term. “I have replayed that meeting hundreds of times in my head — it has shaped how I did my job and how I’ve thought about the potential of relations between the United States and Singapore,” said the former lawyer, who stepped down W H O from his post I S H E ? in January to enter the Mr Kirk Wagar was sworn in as private sector. the United States Ambassador to
Singapore on 4 September, 2013. Prior to his appointment, Mr Wagar was the Managing Partner of a law firm in Florida. He also served on several government foreign relations and economic committees. A naturalised American, Mr Wagar was born in Ottawa, Canada but moved to the US in 1987.
To register for future U@live events, visit nus.edu.sg/ualive
THE KEYS TO SUCCESS “When I started, the world was a very different place,” recalled the father of four. “There was no (Narendra) Modi or (Joko) Widodo on the international stage and neither the (2014) coup in Thailand nor the (2016) US presidential election had taken place yet.” Watching each of these events unfold has convinced Mr Wagar that one reason for Singapore’s success is its attitude towards change. “There is an understanding across the country that things are going to shift and that the best way to deal with shifting sands is to develop a strategic vision for the future,” he said. Another is its geography, he noted, highlighting the major economies that Singapore is close to, both physically and diplomatically. “Singapore is a dynamic city sitting in the most dynamic region in the world,” he said, referring to Southeast Asia, whose economy is worth nearly S$4.3 trillion in combined gross domestic product (GDP). Mr Wagar encouraged young Singaporeans to take advantage of these regional opportunities or risk being left behind. “If you have never lived outside of a first-world city, you are not qualified for a top job at a multi-national corporation,” he said, adding that attitudes among the older generation also need to keep up with changing times. “Parents here may not be keen on their children working in Bangkok or Yangon, which is a pity, because living in these places is the only way to really understand their economies.” Singaporeans should also make the most of the many THE COMBINED GDP OF SOUTHEAST global conversations that take ASIA, WHICH place on their doorstep. “I’m MR WAGAR CALLED not sure that people realise THE WORLD’S ‘MOST DYNAMIC REGION’ just how many opportunities
there are for them to learn from thought leaders. As an Ambassador, I’ve had the privilege of attending numerous conferences, where I learnt about regional economies and their prospects.”
CONTINUED ENGAGEMENT Some members of the audience asked about the effect of Mr Donald Trump’s presidency on American engagement in the region. To this, Mr Wagar said, “Where else are we going to go? Europe is struggling, while Latin America and Africa both lack cohesion. In contrast, ASEAN has been chugging along steadily. There’s no way we’re turning away from this region, because this is where vital markets are and are going to be.” Because of this, he finds it frustrating to see American firms practising isolationism to please their staff, who may not fully understand the economics and benefits of global trade. This is especially clear in negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), (which Mr Trump has pulled the US out of.) “I think its benefits could have been better articulated to the people. American workers must realise that a job that exports goods or services pays far more than a job serving solely a domestic market.” Mr Wagar ended his talk by assuring the audience that the stalled TPP does LIFTING not sound the death knell THOUGHT for American economic LEADERSHIP activity in the region. “Our AS OF JANUARY 2016, U@LIVE, engagement is not limited OUR GUEST SPEAKER SERIES, SHOWCASES GLOBAL THOUGHT to one trade deal... bilateral LEADERS. HOSTED BY ALUMNI trade will continue.” ADVISORY BOARD MEMBER AND This, Mr Wagar said, was VETERAN TV PRESENTER MR VISWA SADASIVAN (ARTS AND inevitable, since we live in SOCIAL SCIENCES ’83) AT THE an era of connectivity where SHAW FOUNDATION ALUMNI HOUSE, THE 1.5 HOUR SESSION cooperation is the order of IS ALSO STREAMED LIVE ON THE the day. “Whether it’s to find U@LIVE WEBSITE. TO REGISTER FOR FUTURE U@LIVE EVENTS, a cure for cancer, develop VISIT NUS.EDU.SG/UALIVE. the next big app or even go to Mars, no country can do it alone.”
ALUMNI HAPPENINGS EVENTS
NUS ALUMNI SING-ALONG
SCHOLARS PROGRAMME ALUMNI
NETWORK GET TOGETHER 2017 THE ANNUAL SCHOLARS Programme Alumni Network (SPAN) Get-Together organised by the University Scholars Programme (USP) was held at Marriott Singapore on 10 February, in conjunction with the Lunar New Year celebration. Set up to be a cosy affair, the event saw about 80 USP alumni, students, faculty and staff come together for an evening of memories and great company. The evening began with updates from USP Director Associate Professor Kang Hway Chuan, followed by respective sections on the various programmes in USP, and how alumni can stay connected and contribute to the programme. In addition, three student mentees from the USP Mentorship Programme took the opportunity to thank their mentors and urge fellow alumni to contribute as USP Mentors to help their juniors. Overall, it was a great evening of reminiscence and good company.
FIRST CLASS REUNION THE INAUGURAL CLASS of Duke-NUS had its first class reunion on 10 December 2016. The reunion was attended by nine alumni, together with their spouses, significant others and children. Alumni caught up on each other’s lives and career progressions.
ON 12 DECEMBER 2016, more than 30 alumni and guests of the NUS Alumni Sing-Along (ASA) gathered at the Shaw Foundation Alumni House for a Christmas celebration. Staff from the NUS Office of Alumni Relations (OAR), including OAR Director Mr Bernard Toh (Architecture ’84) and Deputy Director Ms Florence Neo (Arts and Social Sciences ’93) were invited, and joined in the celebration. The programme included a solo performance by Ms Carmee Lee-Lim (Science ’63) who gave a heartfelt rendition of Love Story and performances by two groups of alumni. In celebration of the Christmas season, members and guests heartily sang along to traditional Christmas carols. It was a great afternoon of good fellowship and fun enjoyed over a
sumptuous buffet spread as well as potluck items contributed generously by TO FIND OUT MORE some of the alumni. ABOUT THE ACTIVITIES OF THE Besides the annual Christmas NUS ASA, PLEASE EMAIL SING-ALONG@ALUMMAIL.NUS.EDU.SG. gathering, the NUS ASA also organises monthly sessions for alumni to come together and sing along to golden oldies as well as more contemporary hits.
NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE SOCIETY
A JAZZ FAREWELL AT THE GUILD
LAUNCHED IN 2014, the NUSS-YSTCM Music Appreciation Series is an initiative by the National University of Singapore Society (NUSS) Alumni Development and University Relations Sub-Committee, in collaboration with the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music (YSTCM), that aims to provide members with an insight into the art of music appreciation and an avenue for intellectual discourse. The fourth installment of the ‘Beyond the Score’ series held on 17 February brought members to the NUSS Bukit Timah Guild House (BTGH), near the NUS Bukit Timah campus which holds fond memories for NUSS members. As the curtain fell on BTGH in February, attendees were treated to an evening of jazz performances featuring Associate Professor Tony Makarome and students from YSTCM. Performances included jazz standards from composers like George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Henry Mancini, and improvisational pieces such as Autumn Leaves, Sonnymoon for Two and Stella by Starlight. APR-JUN 2017
ALUMNI HAPPENINGS EVENTS
BUILDING & ESTATE MANAGEMENT ALUMNI
NETWORKING AND PARTNERSHIP WITH STUDENTS
NUS SCHOOL OF COMPUTING
ANNUAL CHINESE NEW YEAR LUNCH EVERY YEAR, THE NUS School of Computing (SoC) celebrates the Chinese New Year with its staff, alumni and students. Usually held on the 7th day of the lunar calendar, this year’s lunch was held on 3 February at the National University of Singapore Society Guild House Ballroom. Alumni and students were invited to join in the celebrations, and the loud call of the Rooster this year brought home alumni who took time off their busy schedules to join the SoC family for the annual Chinese New Year Lunch.
Alumni who attended the lunch included those from the NUS Department of Information Systems and Computer Science (DISCS), before Computing separated from the Faculty of Science and became a School on its own in 1998. Among the alumni present were Ms Chong Chuan Neo (Computing ’85), Mr Oliver Tian (Computing ’88), Mr Kwek So Cheer (Computing ’96), and Mr Ang Kwang Tat (Computing ’97). Committee members of the Computing Alumni Association, Mr Ng Chee Chiu (Computing ’04), Ms Jeannel Mah (Computing ’15), and Mr Andrew Koh (Computing ’16) were also present at the lunch. The guests enjoyed a traditional lion dance performance and were treated to a visit by the ‘God of Fortune’ before tossing Yu Sheng together. The event served as a reunion for some of the alumni who had not seen each other for years, and provided the opportunity for alumni to meet current students and staff.
THE BUILDING & Estate Management Society (BEMS) and Building & Estate Management Alumni (BEMA) have long played a major part in supporting the students and the alumni of NUS. On 6 January, the 48th BEMS EXCO and 24th BEMA EXCO had a networking session at The Royals Bistro in UTown to explore possible partnerships and ways to work together. Subsequent to this, BEMS was invited by the BEMA EXCO to share on possible collaboration ideas at the BEMA EXCO Meeting on 17 February, chaired by Dr
High Commission of India Singapore
Teo Ho Pin (Design And Environment ’85), President of BEMA. Attendees of the meeting included 10 committee members from BEMA and six members from BEMS. The meeting led to the development of a new partnership that includes: BEMS to help to reach out to its members to recruit more student volunteer lifesavers for North West Community Development Council Mass Swim events; BEMA-BEMS Joint Venture to the “Adopt a Block” initiative to help
improve the quality of lives of the less fortunate; Alumni talks to help students gain better insights about their courses as well as their future careers from industry professionals and leaders from BEMA; and Financial support for “BEMS Camp 2017”, an annual freshmen orientation camp event run by BEMS to welcome new students in Real Estate and Project and Facilities Management courses. After the meeting, new friendships were formed over dinner as members from both societies interacted with one another. It was a fulfilling night; marking the birth of an alliance between BEMA and BEMS that will only continue to grow stronger.
By Mr Hans Owen Sebastian Husodo, 48th President of BEMS
ALUMNI HAPPENINGS EVENTS
Mr Lim Biow Chuan, Member of Parliament for Mountbatten SMC and Deputy Speaker of Parliament taking a ‘welfie’ with Professor Bernard Yeung, Dean of NUS Business School (right, in blue) and participants at the start of the race.
NUS BIZAD CHARITY RUN 2017
CHAMPIONING EDUCATION, EMPOWERMENT AND EMPLOYMENT
Members of the organising committee.
MORE THAN 1,400 runners raised more than S$140,000 for financially disadvantaged NUS Business School undergraduates and the Autism Resource Centre (ARC), a not-for-profit charity, at the NUS Bizad Charity Run 2017. Organised by the NUS Business School Alumni Association (NUSBSA) and NUS Bizad Club, and supported by NUS Business School’s Global Alumni Network Office, this year’s event attracted the highest number of participants in the event’s seven-year history.
“The NUS Bizad Charity Run has helped raise funds for those in need while promoting the spirit of giving back to society. Such a cause has not gone unnoticed by the public and this is why we have seen a record number of participants at the run who want to do their part for the community,” said Mr Ow Tai Zhi (Business ’11), Chairman of NUS Bizad Charity Run 2017. The event was graced by Mr Lim Biow Chuan (Law ’88), Member of Parliament for Mountbatten SMC and Deputy Speaker of Parliament, who also took part in the run. Every year, the Bizad Charity Run adopts an external beneficiary as part of the School’s efforts to give back to society. These organisations have included Boys’ Town, Casa Raudha Women Home and the Muscular Dystrophy Association. This is the first time the Bizad Charity Run is supporting ARC. More than S$100,000 went towards the NUS Business School bursaries and scholarships, while the remainder was donated to ARC’s Employability and Employment Centre – Singapore’s first autism-focused centre providing services for people with autism to succeed in the workplace. Below, (from left) Deputy Dean, Professor Hum Sin Hoon; Mr Lim Biow Chuan, Member of Parliament for Mountbatten SMC and Deputy Speaker of Parliament; Mr Sonny Yuen, President, NUSBSA; Mr Ow Tai Zhi, Chairman, NUS Bizad Charity Run 2017.
ALUMNI HAPPENINGS EVENTS
CIVIL ENGINEERING CLASS OF ’85
THE SECOND REUNION for the Civil Engineering Class of ’85 (CE85) was held on 15 December 2016. CE85 was the pioneering class Civil Engineering students from NUS/NTU, with 59 students from NUS and 100 over students from NTU.
Lecturers and professors who shaped Singapore’s infrastructure and the lives of Civil Engineering students also joined in the reunion, including Emeritus Professor Lee Seng Lip, Professor Tam Chat Tim, Professor Somsak Swaddiwudhipong, Associate Professor Gary Ong (Engineering ’76) and Professor David Chua (Engineering ’86). Professor Quek Ser Tong (Engineering ’84), Head of the NUS Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, also attended the reunion and presented a pictorial update of Kent Ridge campus. Several alumni shared their professional stories and adventures at the reunion, such as building bridges in the jungles of Sabah, building chemical plants in China and Southeast Asia, and building roads in Los Angeles; some alumni took an indirect career route to education and one has authored a book. After three decades in the work force, many alumni have a strong desire to contribute to the next generation, through mentoring and giving. The class pooled together more than S$25,000 to establish the CE85 endowment fund to help deserving students further their engineering studies.
26, 29 & 30 May 2017, 8pm
SHAW FOUNDATION ALUMNI HOUSE
By Mr Kevin Kho (Engineering ’85)
26 May 8pm
29 May 8pm
In French with English subtitles.
30 May 8pm
*Film ratings to be advised.
For more information and to reserve your seats, please visit alumnet.nus.edu.sg/event/CFF2017.
High Commission of Canada
ALUMNI HAPPENINGS OVERSEAS CHAPTERS
ANNUAL MEETING CUM BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING SALON
CHRISTMAS REUNION 39 ALUMNI RESIDING in Greater Toronto attended the Christmas 2016 Reunion Dinner on 18 December 2016 organised by the NUS Toronto Overseas Chapter. Held at the Gourmet Malaysia Restaurant in Toronto, the delicious and sumptuous food filled the alumni with nostalgia as they were reminded of their days at NUS and in Singapore.
During the reunion, the alumni reminisced about their times in Singapore and renewed their bond over karaoke and sing-a-long sessions when they sang National Day songs, Christmas carols, and Mandarin and Cantonese songs. The alumni were delighted to be able to celebrate this season together as NUS alumni – irrespective of their faith, nationality or culture.
By Mr Leong Chee-Kong (Business ’81)
THE NUS XIAMEN Overseas Chapter held its annual meeting in Xiamen on 17 December 2016. Mr Chi Chiew Sum, Singapore Consul-General to Xiamen; Mr Zhang Shengsheng from the Mayor’s Office of Xiamen Municipal Government; and Mr Qiu Yongcai, from the Foreigners and Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of Xiamen Municipal Government graced the event. Invited guests to the event included Ms Xu Feng from UOB Xiamen Branch and Ms Song Ling from Prologis China. With the assistance of Professor Xu Xiuqin from Xiamen University,
the Chapter had the honour of inviting four outstanding alumni and guests in the field of biomedical engineering to present on the latest advancements in biomedical nanotechnology, biological materials, stem cell as well as regenerative medicine. They were Professors Fan Haiming from Northwest University, Ge Zigang (Science ’02) from Peking University, Chen Fulin from Northwest University and Ouyang Hongwei (Medicine ’03) from Zhejiang University.
After the salon, over 30 alumni joined in the dinner together with guests, and reminisced about the good old days as students in the Lion City and talked about the prospects of 2017. The Chapter learned that the 2016 Annual Meeting provided a wonderful platform to strengthen alumni relation and fellowship for fellow alumni to learn from each other and share resources.
By Dr Cai Shumei (Arts and Social Sciences ’12) and Mr Charles Guo Caishun (Law ’10)
ALUMNI HAPPENINGS OVERSEAS CHAPTERS
ANNUAL REUNION 2016
TAINM EDU E
WITH DECEMBER HERALDING the annual summer escape for many Sydneysiders, the NUS Sydney Overseas Chapter managed to round up 45 alumni, including their spouses, for a fun reunion over a good dinner. The Chapter’s Chairperson Mr Jack Tan (Business ’73) was in an exuberant mood amid the presence of both old friends and new faces. He expressed his pride over the
opportunity to serve his alma mater and the achievements of alumni in various fields in Sydney. Mr Tan encouraged the younger alumni to offer their services to the Chapter, citing the example of Mr Kenneth Lui Kin Hang (Science ’07) and his wife Ms Renee Wang, who were most helpful in volunteering their assistance for the event. Mr Tan also contributed some prizes for the event. A notable alumnus present was Dr Choo Koo Guan (Science ’64), who regaled the group with many tales, including teaching math using some Mandarin at a local Sydney university, where he had taught for over three decades. The success of the evening programme was aptly summarised by Mr William Ng Soon Kian (Arts and Social Sciences ’91): “It was a fantastic event, good food, good speeches, and well attended by enthusiastic alums of NUS.”
NEW YEAR REUNION THE NUS SHANGHAI Overseas Chapter held a New Year Reunion at the Nanjing Tower on the evening of 15 February. Mr Loh Tuck Wai (Arts and Social Sciences ’92), Consul-General of Singapore Consulate-General in Shanghai; Mr Philip Ong, Deputy Consul-General of Singapore Consulate-General in Shanghai; and Ms Zhu Lingling,
Vice-President and SecretaryGeneral of the Shanghai Overseas Returned Scholars Association (SORSA), were invited to attend the event. Dr Geng Jing (Public Policy ’11), Chairperson of the NUS Shanghai Overseas Chapter, expressed his gratitude to the distinguished
guests for their kind support and help towards the various activities of the Chapter. NUS alumni from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Faculty of Law, and Business School were also present and discussed the Chapter’s work done in 2016 and planned for the year ahead.
HELP US TO REDUCE OUR TAINM
CARBON FOOTPRINT! EDU
Venue: Shaw Foundation Alumni House Auditorium
Presenter: Dr Robert Casteels
Read The AlumNUS magazine online at the beginning of every January, April, 11 March 2017, Saturday July and October at alumnet.nus.edu.sg/ alumnusmagazine
11 March 2017, Saturday Come and listen to the story of Babar, the little elephant, a moving story of friendship. The exquisite interplay between the narration and the music will delight the young and the young at heart.
Programme: 10.00am Registration and Tea Reception 10.30am Admission 11.00am Performance Starts
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Come and listen to the story of Babar, the little
The Story of Babar, the little Elephant by F. Poulenc
To reserve your seats, please register online at alumnet.nus.edu.sg/event/Ecmar17 Complimentary for NUS alumni / students / staff and their families
In line with NUS’ 7 sustainability efforts, elephant, a moving story of friendship. The exquisite between the narration and the music will we will no longer be sending print copiesinterplay of The AlumNUS magazine to our readers,delight with the young and the young at heart. effect from 1 January 2018.
Programme: Presenter: Print copies will only be available to those 10.00am Registration and Tea Reception Dr Robert Casteels who indicate their preference to continue receiving them at alumnet.nus.edu.sg/10.30am Admission 11.00am Performance Starts Venue: updatemyparticulars by 30 June 2017.
The Story of Babar, the little Elephant by F. Poulenc
Shaw Foundation Alumni House We look forward to your continued support! Auditorium
To reserve your seats, please register online at alumnet.nus.edu.sg/event/Ecmar17 Complimentary for NUS alumni / students / staff and their families
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EDUCATION AND FOOD AND SELF ENRICHMENT BEVERAGE
SUGANIAH BALU DEVARAJ 21, UNDERGRADUATE (BUSINESS ’17)
TAN QIU LING 25, SOCIAL WORKER (ARTS AND SOCIAL SCIENCES ’16)
BEING INNOVATIVE IS IMPORTANT IN SOCIAL WORK, AS IT HELPS TO USE COMMUNITY RESOURCES MORE EFFICIENTLY AND EFFECTIVELY. One example is skillsbased volunteerism, where volunteers with relevant skills — like a knowledge of marketing or finance — work alongside social workers to manage cases. These volunteers bring a fresh perspective and approach to solving social issues. Innovative initiatives like this help the sector react to emerging needs.
LEAVING SOME MODULES UNGRADED WOULD ALLOW INNOVATION IN OUR YOUNG TO TRULY SHINE THROUGH.
DANIEL MOK 32, LAWYER (LAW ’10)
A CORPORATE CULTURE THAT ACTIVELY ENCOURAGES AND WELCOMES NEW IDEAS FROM EMPLOYEES IS ESSENTIAL TO NURTURING INNOVATION; PEOPLE NEED TO KNOW THAT THEY ARE IN A POSITION TO BRING ABOUT CHANGE AND THAT THEIR IDEAS WILL BE CONSIDERED. Everyone can find a better way of doing things at work. It’s not just management that has a role to play; employees do as well. They need to be comfortable letting go of things they are used to, for the sake of better outcomes.
Innovative teaching practices, like the use of technology, have encouraged me to see the practical relevance of my education and how the concepts I learn can be used to make a difference. But innovation in education can definitely be improved: it mostly feels like we are encouraged to be innovative, but only within given boundaries, as we are graded for our efforts. These boundaries, although practical, may discourage curiosity.
KEITH CHONG 27, RESEARCH ENGINEER (ENGINEERING ’14)
BEING A WELLROUNDED INDIVIDUAL WITH DIVERSE SKILLS HELPS YOU TO BECOME MORE INNOVATIVE, AS YOU CAN APPLY SKILLS LEARNT FROM ONE FIELD TO ANOTHER.
SAHIL GUPTA 26, BUSINESS ANALYST (ENGINEERING ’13)
A module on creative thinking in the University Scholars Programme at NUS gave me multi-disciplinary insights into history, research, technology and the arts. The experience has made me curious about integrating different fields of study and I’m using what I’ve learnt to develop a programme to improve userexperience and engagement levels in online learning.
I N N O VAT E In today’s world of disruptive technology, innovation is the latest buzzword, but is it relevant to young alumni? I N T E R V I E W S
A S H U T O S H
R A V I K R I S H N A N
A MEETING OF INNOVATIVE MINDS
IT’S IMPORTANT TO TEACH FUTURE GENERATIONS TO BE MORE INNOVATIVE THAN THE LAST. But it’s just as important to be able to identify problems, because only then will we know what problems need to be solved. That’s actually the first step of the biodesign innovation process: identifying unmet clinical needs. We can’t solve a problem that we can’t identify!
NUS ENTERPRISE AIMS TO IGNITE THE SPIRIT OF INNOVATION IN STUDENTS, STAFF AND ALUMNI. THE GROUP’S FLAGSHIP EVENT, INNOVFEST UNBOUND, IS A CHANCE FOR CREATIVE THINKERS AND LEADERS TO MEET, SHARE IDEAS AND BUILD PARTNERSHIPS. THIS YEAR’S INSTALLMENT WILL BE HELD ON 3-4 MAY AT MARINA BAY SANDS CONVENTION CENTRE AND IS EXPECTED TO ATTRACT OVER 8,000 ENTREPRENEURS, BRANDS, CORPORATES, INVESTORS AND TECH START-UPS. To attend,visit innovfestunbound.com
FO R THE
(Arts and Social Sciences ’17) is giving the dying tongue Kristang a new lease of life.
WHILE READING ABOUT Southeast Asian languages two years ago, Mr Kevin Martens Wong came across one he had never heard of: Kristang. Believed to be a result of marriages between Portuguese settlers and local Malay residents, the language was spoken among PortugueseEurasians in Malacca and Singapore for 500 years until the early 20th century, when its use began to decline in favour of English. Today, less than 500 people speak it in the two regions. Mr Wong, who is EurasianChinese, then found that he had a personal connection with
A S H U T O S H
the language as well. “Kristang was what my great-great-grandmother spoke exclusively, and to know that it was just disappearing — I couldn’t let that happen,” says the 25-year-old, who launched Kodrah Kristang, which means “Awaken Kristang”, last year. The initiative aims to revitalise the dying tongue through Kristang classes, events and social media outreach. These efforts are supported by older Kristang speakers and other language enthusiasts. Participation at Kodrah Kristang events has grown steadily, with more than 200
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students of all ages and races attending its weekly language classes. “It’s beautiful that so many people coming forward to learn Kristang aren’t even Portuguese-Eurasian. Our youngest learner turns eight this year, while our oldest — my grandfather — is 82,” says Mr Wong. Kodrah Kristang is also organising a language festival on 20 and 21 May at the Asian Civilisations Museum. “The festival is not just for Kristang speakers and learners — all Singaporeans are welcome to experience the celebration and revival of this long-forgotten aspect of our country’s heritage,” says Mr Wong. The first-ever Kristang online dictionary will also be launched at the festival. Visitors can also learn about other lesser-known languages, such as Buginese and Malayalam, through a Languages of Singapore heritage trail.
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TA N G ,
I L L U ST R AT I O N :
G E T T Y
For more information on the Kristang Language Festival, visit festa.kristang.com
I like learning Kristang Yo gostah prendeh Kristang
M A R V I N
Hi, my name is ____ Teng bong, yo sa nomi ____
P H O TO :
@ Privé Clarke Quay, 6.30pm
R A V I K R I S H N A N
language is my greatest fascination. It’s a never-ending challenge that opens up new worlds. But in working with Kristang, I’ve also learnt that language means heritage, family, friends and future.
R E M E M B E R APR
I M A G E S
Mr Wong, a part-time author, included snippets of Kristang in his first novel, Altered Straits, which was longlisted for the Epigram Books Fiction Prize in 2015. “It’s a great way of ensuring that Kristang lives on in local literature,” he says.
L A N G UA G E
Linguist Mr Kevin Martens Wong
D A T E S
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