NUS Alumni Manila Chapter Christmas Gathering 2021

NUS Alumni Manila Chapter held a Christmas Gathering on Saturday, 11 December 2021 at the MESA Restaurant. The restaurant is known for its innovative Filipino modern dishes, and is located at the Greenbelt 5, Ayala Center, Makati City, Metropolitan Manila. To provide reassurance to alumni for their personal safety and health, the event was held in accordance to the government’s protocols, with an al-fresco set-up.

21 alumni from seven faculties and schools attended this gathering, which began at 7pm. To begin the evening, Chairperson, Mr Richard Tan (Public Policy ’12), gave a welcome speech, followed by a short sharing from guest speaker, Atty. Maria Anthonette C. Velasco-Allones (Public Policy ’06), Chief Operation Officer of the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB).

During his speech, Mr Tan reiterated the purpose of alumni organisations – to provide a platform for face-to-face social, professional and business networking opportunities, and to enjoy the company of fellow alumni from Asia's leading university who currently work and reside in and around the Metropolitan Manila area. Part of the activities for the coming year was to hold smaller gatherings, such as inviting sub-groups of alumni from various faculties and schools from the first quarter of 2022. Depending on the situation, the chapter may also consider holding a general membership meeting by the second quarter of 2022.

Guest speaker Atty. Thonette shared with attendees the importance of tourism in the economy of the Philippines, the recent activities of TPB, and the current reopening of the islands to domestic tourism. After her speech, Atty. Thonette graciously gifted each attendee a coffee table book from the TPB, titled “Bucket List Philippines [Sustainable Edition].

Dinner was then served after the end of the short programme. To round off the evening, the Chapter raffled off numerous prizes to alumni who were present.

Submitted By Mr Nestor Precioso (Science ’06).

NUSS-YST Fundraising Concert - Beyond The Score: Simple Gifts and Springs of Transcendence

The first-ever fundraising concert organised by NUS Society (NUSS) and Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music (YST) on 25 November raised over $400,000 to date, with matching grant from the Tote Board, to help needy NUS students. The amount raised exceeded the initial target of $250,000. This concert was the eighth instalment of Beyond The Score: Simple Gifts and Springs of Transcendence. Livestreamed on NUSS’ YouTube channel, it garnered 650 views online (as of end November 2021).

Presented by YST students and Vice Dean Associate Professor Brett Stemple and Principal Conductor Jason Lai, the concert featured an hour-long programme of music by American composer Aaron Copland. Guests were brought on a journey across Copland’s songs and his ballet-score masterpiece Appalachian Spring and video excerpts from Martha Graham’s original ballet choreography. Said NUSS President Mr Edward Tay (Law ’92), “We are pleased to serve our alma mater in cultivating the spirit of giving and especially to support needy students. We wish to thank our members and friends of NUSS for their generosity in contributing to this worthy cause.”

Associate Professor Ho Chee Kong (Affiliate Alumnus ’19), Interim Dean of YST commented, “It has been our pleasure working with NUSS on the Beyond the Score series and sharing music through our curated interactive programmes. In this year’s event, we are especially delighted to give further support to NUS students, as we continue to give music greater resonance in the community.” Amid global challenges, the concert sought to provide music of solace, celebration and reflection. The concert also featured a Q&A session where Associate Professor Stemple and Mr Lai answered questions posted to them online.

The amount raised will be channelled towards the NUS Alumni Bursary Endowed Fund, NUSS Golf Section Bursary Endowed Fund and other funds for needy students in NUS.

Submitted by Ms Teo Kuan Yee (Arts and Social Sciences ’94)

NUS Alumni Ventures Welcomes You!
From leading an entrepreneurship society to banding together notable NUS Alumni investors, NUS Alumni Ventures (NAV) is determined to make an impact in the Southeast Asia start-up ecosystem by tapping the rich NUS Alumni network.

NAV was founded in June 2020 by a group of alumni with entrepreneurship background in the NUS Entrepreneurship Society (NES). The group identified a gap in the early-stage start up ecosystem, where budding entrepreneurs lacked funding, resources and found difficulty in tapping the rich NUS alumni network. Inspired by Stanford University’s entrepreneurship, NAV was thus born as the first alumni-led angel investment network in Southeast Asia, with the founding batch of 56 members. Despite the challenges faced due to the ongoing pandemic, NAV members adapted quickly under the strategic management of the executive committee, led by President Mr Chen Pinzhang (Engineering ‘21), who was also former President of NES. Within the span of a year, NAV attracted and built a diverse connected network of over 80 NUS Alumni angel investors and partners from scratch to support the organisation’s mission and vision.

Having experienced the trials and tribulations of building start-ups from scratch, some founders have banded together to become venture capitalists or investors in funds and have contributed back to the angel investment ecosystem. NAV has thus created a close-knit network where NUS Alumni angel investors, mentors, entrepreneurs and the like-minded can share their insights and learn from one another to scale their businesses.

To date, NAV has held five Demo Day runs of their flagship Direct Investment Programme (DIP), of which each round shortlisted at least seven carefully selected start-ups that pitched to NAV’s network of angel investors. These start-ups were specifically sourced and analysed from NAV’s team of trained student analysts who undergone rigorous training sessions by experienced mentors. As a result, three start-ups successfully obtained funding. More information on the past DIP events could be found via
nav.org.sg/blog.

NUS Alumni Ventures aims to pull together a community of NUS Alumni Angel investors and entrepreneurs that will allow for investments ranging from pre-seed to pre-series A investments. If you are an early-stage start-up looking to raise funds from our angel investors or if you’re an NUS Alumni interested in mentoring or funding start-ups, the NAV team is happy to connect with you! Please reach out to nusangelventures@gmail.com or send the group a Linkedin message.

Submitted by Mr Chen Pinzhang (Engineering ’21).
#ExperienceCoaching

On a sunny Saturday on 30 October 2021, 17 alumni members participated in the last of the popular three-part #ExperienceCoaching series, organised by NUS Business School Alumni Association (NUSBSA). The event was held in partnership with the International Coaching Federation (ICF) Singapore Chapter to enable NUSBSA members the opportunity to get up close and personal with the power and benefits of coaching.

The morning started with a warm welcome by Ms Gracelyn Ho (Business ’87), Chairperson of NUSBSA Career Panel Advisory and Ms Catherine Chai (Business ‘92), Vice-President of NUSBSA. This was followed by Ms Amily Ang, Director of Partnerships of ICF Singapore, who shared the differences between coaching, mentoring, counselling, training, and how coaching can inspire individuals to maximise their potential in the short and long term. The participants then split into breakout rooms where they experienced 45 minutes of 1-on-1 coaching sessions with their pre-matched, accredited ICF coaches. Participants were enthused, giving feedback that the coaching sessions were “thought provoking”, “highlighted many blind spots”, “made sense of the chaos” and went “beyond the solutions”.

The networking session that followed were well attended and participants were reluctant to leave as the event came to a close. It was not surprising that the post-event feedback was mostly ranked 9 or 10 out of 10, and many indicated their interest for a longer session for the 2022 Series – which will be starting in March 2022.

Submitted by Ms Catherine Chai (Business ’92)

Kent Ridge Hall Mentorship Program: Connecting the Past and Present

19 October marked the third edition of Kent Ridge Hall’s (KRH) mentorship program. This initiative was created back in 2018, with the aim of connecting KRH’s beloved alumni with current residents by engaging them as mentors.

In view of the COVID-19 situation and the ensuing restrictions, KRH decided to bring this event online and host it via Zoom. Five mentors were invited to share their various areas of expertise, careers and industries as well as their experience and journey during their stay in KRH. The event mirrored an online career fair, where mentors each had their own breakout room and residents were free to join and listen to whichever mentor they were keen to hear from.

 It was a delightful evening, with familiar faces sharing their career experiences and reminiscing their times in KRH. Current residents were all ears listening to the intriguing stories and having genuine conversations with the mentors, some even keeping in touch with them after the event concluded.

One of the mentors, Ms Renee Leong (Arts and Social Sciences ’21) shared her thoughts on this year’s program, “I was honoured to be invited back as a mentor as I had attended one of these programs in the past and felt that it was really interesting! I believe that the Social Relations Unit's (SRU) mentorship program provides a wealth of insights and opportunities to network. It was quite a chill and well run event and I hope that the residents enjoyed it as much as I did!”

“It was tough having to conduct this program on Zoom as it removes the human interaction element prevalent in a mentorship program. However, we felt that it was an extremely beneficial and meaningful initiative for both the mentors and the residents. Thankfully, the turnout was good and the feedback was positive as well! Hopefully this will serve as a stepping stone for future alumni related initiatives for KRH!”, said Ms Pu Yu Qing, Vice-Chairperson of the SRU and Year 2 student from Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

Ultimately, this was a small initiative to help strengthen the bond between the different generations of Kent Ridgeans and the organisers are hopeful that the success of this program will inspire more mentors to volunteer their time back to KRH!

Submitted by Dr Rosalind Siah (Medicine ’16), Associate Director for Alumni Relations, Kent Ridge Hall Alumni and Mr Howe Lee,Year 4 Business, KRH Resident 

Environmental Champion Receives President’s Award for the Environment 2021

Congratulations to Mr Joseph Koh (Science ‘72), who was recently awarded the President’s Award for the Environment (PAE) (2021). The PAE is Singapore’s highest accolade for individuals, organisations and educational institutions that have made significant contributions towards environmental sustainability in Singapore.

This award is just the icing on the cake of Mr Koh’s lifetime achievements in biodiversity research, nature conservation, and other contributions to NUS and Singapore. Over the years, Mr Koh has continued to maintain close links with the NUS Department of Biological Sciences, encouraging and strengthening NUS’ biodiversity research ties with scientists from universities and research institutions abroad while he was Singapore’s High Commissioner in Australia and Brunei.

Mr Koh spent decades studying spiders and published many scientific papers and identification guides on Singapore and Borneo spiders. He was part of a core research group that contributed to the Comprehensive Biodiversity Survey of the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve from 2014 to 2018. He continues to devote time to pass on his skills and knowledge to young people with a passion for spiders.

With the help of the many young arachnologists who he has nurtured, Mr Koh has recorded more than 800 species of spiders in Singapore. He also pledged his entire lifetime collection of over 12,000 spider specimens to the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM).

Mr Koh also worked with Professor Peter Ng (Science ’84), Head of LKCNHM to raise funds for two scholarships named after their mentor in zoology, the late Professor Dennis Hugh Murphy. This initiative is part of Mr Koh’s effort to groom young and passionate advocates for nature conservation. He also made a personal donation and rallied others to do the same for the “Jubilee Whale” display at the LKCNHM, which was launched in 2016.

As Chairman of the “Friends of Bukit Timah Forest” community group, Mr Koh played a key role in publicising the rich biodiversity in the forest ecosystem with Bukit Timah Nature Reserve as its core, and in developing a network of partnerships to involve more Singaporeans to protect, restore and enjoy the forest.

Under his leadership as its former Chairman, and currently Senior Advisor, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)-Singapore has forged important partnerships with non-government organisations, the business community, and government agencies. For instance, WWF Singapore has started to collaborate with the National Parks Board (NParks) to combat illegal wildlife trade, and garner public support for NParks’ species recovery programme. 

At the heart of Mr Koh’s lifetime achievements is a simple idealism. He mentions, “I hope my story will ignite the passion of our younger generation in everything they do and inspire them to play an activist role in contributing to nature conservation and environmental sustainability.”

He added, “Together, we should continue our “whole-of-society” approach to add a Bright Green Spark to that Little Red Dot: a role model for other urban centres and a new source of pride to be a Singaporean.”

Find out more about his environmental work here

Submitted by Mr Steven Tan, Department of Biological Sciences.

Japanese Studies Alumni Association Fireside Chat: Using Japanese After Graduation

On 8 October, the Japanese Studies Alumni Association organised the second session of their Fireside Chat Series, titled Using Japanese After Graduation. The sharing featured five Japanese Studies Alumni from the banking, tech, gaming, education and precious metals sectors; offering their insights on navigating the workplace as a Japanese language speaker. With over 70 attendees consisting of alumni, faculty, students, the event which took place on Zoom, was a fun way for the Japanese Studies and Japanese language community to get together.

The event began with Opening Remarks from Assoc Prof Timothy Amos and Assoc Prof Lim Beng Choo (Arts and Social Sciences ’85). Thereafter, the five alumni shared candidly on a range of topics, from the use of honorifics, or keigo, to Japanese customs and etiquette at the workplace. For alumni, the event was a great chance to reconnect with the wonderful Japanese Studies professors. The event concluded with breakout rooms, where participants could freely ask questions to guest speakers hosting each respective rooms.

Japanese Studies Alumni Association would like to sincerely thank the Japanese Studies Department and the Japanese Language team at the Centre for Language Studies for their cooperation and support for the event.

Submitted by Ms Naomi Lee (Arts and Social Sciences ’19)

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