Meet our alumni

“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

Wen Qi

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.

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