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Class Notes
 

Yeo Miu Ean

 

Yeo Miu EanDuring the years in NUS, Ean was active in AIESEC which is an organization for students in economics and business. It was during an AIESEC AGM in her 2nd year where Ean met her husband Chua Hung Meng, a graduate of BBA Class of 81, who was attending the AGM as an Alumni member. The couple together with their two teenage daughters has appeared in the front cover of the NUS Graduate magazine, which featured the volunteer work they do as a family. Ean and Meng work hard at building their family life and honing their parenting skills. The family believes that doing interesting projects together like hosting lunch parties at children's home, delivering meals on wheels to elderly and other community services contribute greatly towards building the family bond. In year 2009, they took the challenge of hosting two rebellious Aussie teenagers for a week in a reality show that was eventually watched by over 1.5 million viewers in Australia. It was an exciting and enriching experience for the family who hopes to be able to inspire teenagers and parents to have good relationships.

Ean recalled that she graduated in a bad recession year similar to 2009. She is thankful that she started working at IBM right after graduation, then went on to work in HP and later became GM of Xcellink, a local IT outsourcing company spending over 20 years in the IT industry.

18 years ago with the arrival of the 2nd daughter and the family's move to Hong Kong, Ean decided to work on a part-time and flexible work arrangement. With a strong belief that Work-Life Harmony is important both for the individual and family, Ean successfully implemented a variety of work-life harmony programmes during her work in the local company. These programmes and their corresponding impact on the company's business results were featured in a TV documentary on work-life. She also implemented effective HR policies and programmes to enable individuals to return to the workforce and retain key talent through creative flexible schemes.

Over the past 2 years as Director of the Employer Alliance, Ean has shared the benefits of work-life strategy and how the various programmes contribute to business results with audiences from hundreds of companies. An articulate and eloquent speaker with personal experience in the challenges of implementing work-life programmes, Ean shares her secrets to overcoming common challenges and bringing about a successful work-life implementation.

Ean's strong interest in parenting motivated her to complete a Diploma in Family Life Education through a MCYS scholarship. In pursuit of her passion to promote work-life integration and family life education, Ean conducts regular workshops to train facilitators and individuals in the area of personal work-life effectiveness and parenting.

If you go to the Botanic Garden on Saturday mornings, you may just meet Ean and Meng taking their regular walk.

  
 
  
 

Tan Wang Cheow

  
 

Tan Wang Cheow Tan Wang Cheow graduated in 1981 with a Bachelor of Accountancy from the National University of Singapore and is the Chairman and Managing Director of Food Empire Holdings Ltd, a food and beverage manufacturing company that boasts over 400 units of products under its name and a global distribution network that spans across 69 countries. The Group has 18 offices (representative and liaison) - Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Poland, Turkey, Belgium, Bahrain, Mongolia and Vietnam.

Since its listing in April 2000, Wang Cheow has been providing leadership to the Company. At the same time, he is responsible for formulating strategies with regards to brand championship, new business opportunities, market development and product innovation.

The company flagship brand, MacCoffee™ remains a household favourite in many countries especially Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and several CIS countries, showing positive and strong brand equity. Food Empire has been continually building on its reputation for its impressive portfolio of quality brands that have long been established as household names if not already a favourite to people of all ages, across the lands. Its current portfolio of brands includes: MacChocolateTM, MacTea, Klassno, FesAroma, OrienBites, MacCandy, Zinties, Kracks, Melosa, and Petrovskaya Sloboda. Food Empire also exports its products to countries in the following regions: Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Australasia, Southeast Asia, Middle East, IndoChina and North America, anchoring on its extensive and expansive global network.

So how did this home-grown mogul become one of the largest convenience food purveyors to some of the world's least likely markets? In the late 1980s, Wang Cheow was exporting personal computers and peripherals to Eastern Europe and central Asia. During one such trip to Kazakhstan, he brought along a couple of sachets of instant three-in-one coffee. Of an enterprising bent, he interests his business contacts with the mix and sold them on importing it. The first order of 20 containers reached Kazakhstan in 1992. 

By 1994 Wang Cheow was ready to exit the low-margins computer export business and launch the MacCoffee brand in Russia. Timing was of the essence as this was a period when foreign instant products and beverages were a novelty, and foreign investments were warmly welcomed as the country geared toward a market economy. By the late 1990s, MacCoffeeTM was on sale at most Russian food kiosks and open-air markets. By the time Nestlé began to promote its three-in-one instant coffee, the Singapore brand had already built a strong position and solid distribution networks in the market.

In 2000, Food Empire was listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange and since then, it has won numerous accolades for its unrelenting and entrepreneurial spirit, including being ranked one of "The Most Valuable Singapore Brands" from 2003 to 2006 at the national brand award organised by IE Singapore, MacCoffee was also ranked one of "The Strongest Singapore Brands" and the company was selected by the acclaimed Forbes magazine as one of the "Best under a Billion" companies in Asia in 2007 and 2008.

He travels every other month to new sales territories - from Iran to Uzbekistan and Serbia, works weekends wherever he is and is constantly eyeing on new markets and products. Meantime, Food Empire keeps up demand for MacCoffee in its Slavic markets with eye catching advertisements featuring celebrities or by sponsoring sports events like figure skating, Tien Shan mountain climbing or auto racing. The branding has even won Wang Cheow unexpected fame. "When I visit these markets, people are eager to take pictures with me when they know I am the CEO of MacCoffee" he says.

 
 

Wenqi

 
 

wenqi

 

"At the end of our master's overseas experience, a few of us gathered around and talked about what the year meant. Strangely, we did not talk about how much more intelligent we were about the field of management studies nor did we speak of the exciting corporate life which would ensue. Instead, we spoke about how our experience made us more confused. We were confused because we realized how much less we knew and how much less certain we were. When before we could be certain as to what careers we wanted, and what we wanted to do in life, now we wondered if there were more experiences to be had in life."
- Wen Qi, 2012

 
 

Wenqi was a political science student with a negative view towards businesses. As she puts it "Businesses are a necessary evil in a capitalistic society where big buisness interests perpetuate inequility in society as they seek profits and neglect ethical practices." However, through her MSc in Management at NUS and her year abroad with CEMS Masters in International Management, she learnt that her initial view towards business was myopic and limited by her social science paradigm. 

In the classes, where she studied the inception of businesses at that entrepreneurial stage, she learnt about the differences in motivations which drive entrepreneurs to pursue business creation. There she saw the active human will which dedicates its existence to the creation of a sole enterprise, sometimes out of pure necessity and other times out of pure desire for self-actualisation. She recalled the conversation with her Spanish friend Marc while walking along the summer lake and the enthusiasm with which he outlined his entrepreneurial ambitions etched deeply in her mind. Marc had wanted to create a consulting agency for small and medium Spanish enterprises and through that create value for the society.

It was a moment where that political science mental model of portraying civil society as benign and businesses as malignant broke down. And Wenqi suddenly realize how mental models that we build over years of education and socialization are vulnerable to re-interpretation. It was also a truly humbling period in her life as she met friends and people from all over the world who so sincerely shared with her what they thought were precious and beautiful in life. And it was transformative because she had not realized how limited her worldview was simply because she had studied and lived all her life in Singapore.

The Singaporean in her was always anxious to be productive and efficient. However, the friends she had showed her alternative ways of living that were so honest and sincere that she could not help but be moved by. Katya, her close Russian girlfriend, reveled when spring came to HEC. She waxed lyrical about the beauty of spring and its scarcity in cold Russia. Looking at her genuine appreciation of sunlight and the fruits of nature, Wenqi wondered when was the last time she went to Bukit Timah Nature reserve and appreciated the tropical nature which we were naturally bestowed with. Annie, her Vietnamese girlfriend frequently came over to make Asian dinner together for the group and through the sharing of food and culture in their made-shift dining dormitory room, it made her realize how communal bonding are such important ballast of a modern dweller's healthy psyche. Then there was Youssef an Egyptian-Canadian who spent many hours sharing his experience on Islam and middle-eastern politics, determined to show her that there are weightier issues in life then attaining the narrowly defined notion of success in Singapore.

In Wenqi's view, the meaning of education has been narrowly defined in our generation here in Singapore. We take a utilitarian view of education, concerned as to how one qualification would help advance us in life. Nevertheless, life is ultimately very intimately experienced and the only way that we can be certain that the life which we have constructed for ourselves is worth living, is to push ourselves to new intellectual borders and to accumulate more experiences beyond the comfort zone of our Singaporean existence. Through MSc Mgt in NUS Business School and through CEMS in Barcelona and Paris, Wenqi managed to find a beneficial confusion which opened up new vistas. It's a confusion that allows her to rethink what are the priorities in her life and consequently, redefine her life with more meaningful terms that she is finally conscious of.