NUS Business School Alumni - BBA(Hons) 1975, MBA 1987
Chairman - TPS Corporate Services
Tell us more about yourself and your background
I graduated from the School of Business Administration at the National University of Singapore (Bukit Timah Campus) in 1974 with a BBA Hons. I worked in the business development and corporate restructuring business with emphasis on the real estate sector in Asia-Pacific, United Kingdom and Australia with prominent family business owners. Besides that, I developed my interests in the venture capital and private-equity businesses investing in corporate and fiduciary, high-tech, financial services, energy, waste management and mining sectors. I have been closely related to the NUS Business School, forming the NUSBSA, MBA Alumni and being a member of the NUS Alumni Advisory Board.
I have been active with AIESEC since 1972 as its first LDP Trainee to Japan and currently involved as a member of the BOA and AIESEC Alumni International.
When did you start your giving journey? Do you remember your first time?
In my journey of giving, the first time I was introduced to giving was through The Boys’ Brigade (BB) Week Collections – whence we appealed to our family and friends to donate to The Boys’ Brigade to support their activities. I did it for several years during my teenage years and even did some appeal letter writing for my sons when they joined the BB. Even to this day, my contribution still continues as a BB Alumnus.
The benefits I received were evident as per the BB’s object: “The advancement of the Christ Kingdom amongst Boys and the promotion of habits of obedience, reverence, discipline, self-respect and all the tends towards a true Christian manliness”. The BB movement has inculcated such Christian values in thousands of Boys since 1883. Singapore alone has produced many prominent leaders in education, government, civil service and Christian clergy. The results of the giving are indeed evident.
As I give, I also receive. In my school days, I was fortunate to be the recipient of many school grants, bursaries, scholarships and book prizes. As such, I am indeed very blessed. As the saying goes: “To those who are given much, much is expected”. And so I started raising funds for building projects - starting with Fairfield Methodist Church @ The Metropole Cinema in Tanjong Pagar, The YMCA International House @Orchard Road, The Boys’ Brigade Campus @ Ganges Avenue, The Mochtar Riady Business School Building @ Kent Ridge, The Bible House @ Armenia Street and so on. I also raise funds for and donate to the many NUS Business School Bursaries, YMCA charity golf events and programs and many other charitable institutions.
It heartens my heart to see these buildings being renovated or built for better usage and better programs for the many benefactors. Besides monetary contributions, I love spending my time and hopefully my talents to participate in establishing the various Alumni Associations (NUS Business School Alumni, AIESEC Alumni International, The Boys Brigade Alumni & Y’s Men International). These involvements speak volumes about sincere local and international camaraderie and deep friendship that money cannot buy.
What led you to give to NUSBSA Bursary Fund?
It all started with the NUSBSA Bursary Fund for the less-financially endowed students. It was a contribution in memorial of one of our classmate and later on as remembrance of other classmates and teachers who passed away before us. It started as a small contribution that really does not hurt the pocket. The key initiator of this “giving movement” is Yeo Keng Joon, a fellow business school colleague and alumni stalwart. Then I participated in many other bursary fund initiatives and the Bursary for non-academic pursuits such as expedition, mooted by Benny Lee also a fellow alumni stalwart.
From then on, I contributed to the many fund initiatives inclusive of NUS Campus Couple Fund, Ng Guan Memorial Fund (in memory of the selfless father of a close friend) and others.
You only need to take the first step to give, and the rest will be easy.
The key motivation for my giving was the interview with the applicants. I cried at almost all the interviews when the dire financial hardships were elaborated. I started counting my blessings and how I could alleviate their hardships through my small contribution. It is indeed very heart-warming to know that many have graduated and have been giving back.
What advice would you give to those who not know where and how to start in Giving?
We are all born to receive. At our birth conception, we started drawing on the life-giving nutrients from our mothers. Even after birth, as hopeless as we are, we are being endowed with the provisions, gifts and bequeaths from our parents, family members and community.
“Give Me, Give Me” is the catchword. So, our question is, what triggers this desire from “to take” to “to give”?
What triggers this change? Is it because of the sight of beggars in the streets, the poor under-fed children featured in the World Vision’s appeal pamphlets, or the impact of natural disasters such as earthquakes, heavy rainfall, volcanic eruptions or tsunamis? I am sure that these will appeal to the altruistic, humanistic and compassionate sides, but what caused them to have a consistent propensity to give? I sincerely believe that the positive results of the cause-effect of the giving are the answer. When we give for a cause, the actual or perceived effects/benefits will reinforce this innate quest to contribute further to this and similar causes. Hence in fundraising, this aspect of positive post-giving results must be evident in the reports and feedbacks.
The most apparent form of giving is monetary (treasure). But the other two gems of giving: talent and time, are just as important. Giving is not money alone but rather the joy you bring with your singing, dancing or even musical performances. It could be an inspiration through your skills and mentorship, guidance and wisdom.
Time, the most elusive treasure, is also another gem of giving. Time spent hearing out, consoling, empathising and even playing could engender therapeutic memories and warmth. Even just listening with patience.
We all have these gems of giving – treasure, talents and time. So, let’s not impoverish ourselves by saying that we have “no money to spare” or “money not enough” as we still have talents and time.
The Sea of Galilee & The Dead Sea
In our quest to give our Gems of Giving (Treasures, Talents and Time), I was reminded of the two pools of water in Israel – The Sea of Galilee & The Dead Sea. The Sea of Galilee receives and discharges its water from the Jordan River. As it receives, so it gives. There was plenty of vegetation and produce along its banks, and the sea is bustling with live fishes and other marine creatures. On the other hand, the Dead Sea also receives its water from the Jordan River, but it does not discharge at all. It is totally uninhabitable, and nothing lives in it – hence its epithet. So let’s all be labelled Seas of Galilee!