Mr Tan Boon Chin, Executive Advisor NEC APAC, NUS BS APEX10 2003
Tell us more about yourself and your background
I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from NUS in 1981 and later completed the NUS Executive MBA in 2003. I joined a Japanese company NEC Corporation in 1981 and was posted to Japan for a 2-year training program. Since then, I have been with the company serving actively in the Asia-Pacific.
One of my loves is running. I started doing road-relay running since I was in school and I have continued in this pursuit even till today. I ran a full marathon in 1980 and it was a most enriching experience. But I had to prepare and train for it by taking part in quarter and half marathons.
Another of my favourite pastime is traveling. I remember joining the Travel Services in NUS and went on many budget tours in the region. Partly also due to my work, I have travelled to almost every corner of the earth. Japan is naturally my most-travelled destination. I have been to almost all the iconic spots in Japan, except Okinawa.
When did you start your giving journey? Do you remember your first time?
I believe it started when I was in school serving as a venture scout. During Scout Job Week, I would go door- to-door asking residents to make a donation in exchange for performing some tasks. I remember doing all kinds of tasks like mowing the garden, polishing antiques, and cleaning windows and many other menial tasks. The work was daunting but fun as we will be able to help raise funds for charity in the process. I would say my involvement in this movement helped shaped my attitude towards charitable work.
I also learn the value of giving from my family. When I started working and earning some money, giving an allowance to my parents was a norm. While this type of giving is part of filial piety and respect for my parents, I believe the very act helped imbibe in me the value of thinking beyond myself. Sometimes, there would be appeal for donation on TV programmes, and I would respond by giving occasionally for certain causes. But these were on an ad-hoc basis. Now, I would describe my giving as more intentional and purpose-driven.
What led you to give to NUSBSA Bursary/Experience Fund?
I was fortunate to live in a traditional family where education was highly valued by my parents, and they were also able to financially support me. I know of students' who had to give up their studies and start work so as to help out in the financial support of their family. With the little contribution that I make, I believe I can help to alleviate someone’s financial situation so that they can continue with their studies. I hope to do my small part in helping to narrow the educational disparities and disadvantages that less fortunate members of our community face. I strongly believe that education is the way forward to a better life and future for these families. Education is incredibly important to me as I wouldn’t be where I am without a good education.
When I first joined NUS BSA somewhere in 2006, I was fortunate to have a few iconic donors in the Board of Directors who were the champions for the NUSBSA Bursary. Their passion inspired and their vision resonated with me. Later on, the NUSBSA Experience Fund was set up to help needy students who had wanted to but were unable to travel overseas to gain some degree of educational exposure. Such overseas stints may sound like a luxury to some, but BSA believes such an experience is essential for our students as we compete in a highly globalised world. Singapore is now a developed country and the challenges our students face today are different from those I faced when I was in university. We firmly believe that students should be supported and given the chance to be exposed and to develop a global mind-set and international savviness.
This is ultimately good for Singapore’s future in the new normal. I am glad that I was able to share this vision with my EMBA class (APEX10) to donate to this fund via the NUS BSA. My class APEX10 bought a brick each for the wall @NUS (Attached please see the photo).
What advice would you give to those who do not know where and how to start in Giving?
If you have never given before, you may want to start small. Giving doesn’t have to involve huge sums of money - like your Bill Gates and Warren Buffet - though if you have the means, by all means give as much as you can. NUS has a donation programme where you can give small sums of money on a regular basis. You can contact NUS Development Office.
For those who are looking for a worthy cause to give to, do speak to us. Join us in our alumni activities. Besides networking, wining and dining, alumni associations do a lot of good deeds to benefit the community. Start by being involved and giving your time to serve. Once you are able to part with your precious time - which money cannot buy - for a worthy cause, then gradually, parting with your money will become easier.
Finally, involve your friends and classmates. You may initiate a fund which can be named after your cohort and, together as a class, contribute to something meaningful in NUS. If you wish to do so, please reach out to us and we will be most delighted to walk this giving journey with you.