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Dear NUSBSA Members,
In the book Happiness, Wellbeing and Society – What matters for Singaporean, NUS Business School Assoc Profs Siok Kuan Tambyah and Tan Soo Jiuan (June 2018), what caught my attention is the following: “Sense of belonging, fun and enjoyment, and self-fulfilment were the three values which had the most significant influence on Singaporeans’ subjective well-being (happiness, enjoyment, achievement, control and purpose).”
The results deeply resonate with my vision for the NUSBSAA. As the new president, I hope to focus on these 3 areas, which I believe are fairly universal and not just specific to Singaporeans. I would like to borrow our profs’ findings to articulate what I would like the alumni association to be known for, though my ideas may not necessarily be similar to those of the profs.
Sense of belonging. Unlike the US, alumni engagement among universities in Asia is still at a nascent stage. NUS only started actively reaching out to its alumni body in recent years. From the onset, it faced an uphill task given that alumni do not have strong feelings about their alma mater, for various reasons. But I’m glad to say that this has changed over the years, through the efforts of stalwart alumni leaders such as the late Wong Ah Long, and many others such as Peter Tay and Yeo Keng Joon. That many younger alumni are involved today is the fruit of their labour and perseverance. This is also partly due to the enhanced efforts by the School in engaging the student body. Overall, with the strong sense of belonging, more have and will step forward to be counted. This is a good development which BSA must continue to strengthen.
Fun and enjoyment. This is almost stating the obvious, yet, far too many have taken ourselves too seriously that we alienate good intentioned folks who want to be involved. Often, we tend to take ourselves too seriously. While we are serious in fulfilling our mission, we must also make sure we have fun while doing the serious stuff. We must learn to loosen up. Through the good work of my predecessors Benny Lee, Simon Phua and Sonny Yuen, I notice that there is a lot of laughter whenever we meet. I hope under my watch, the laughter continues.
Self-fulfilment. There is a saying that “he who waters shall himself be watered”. How true. Many times, we hear of individuals benefiting more from their experience helping others than what they have actually put in in the first place. Alumni who are involved derive great satisfaction from simply being involved and being able to contribute and give back to society. This is a fact even though it may sound cliché. So while as an association our expressed mission is to help (e.g. every year BSA participates in NUS Services Day – a one-day event where BSA Alumni and friends deliver foods collaborating with Touch Community Services Meals on Wheel), unknowingly, we are also helped in return through fostering a sense of unity and common purpose, and a deep camaraderie in our common effort to reach out to others. This is what holds us together as a community and what gives us individually a multi-dimensional approach to life and heightens our sense of well-being.
I hope the above three areas will be what members of BSA will bear in mind as we work together to build up our business alumni community; in so doing, I am hopeful that we will be able to ultimately find “happiness, enjoyment, achievement, control and purpose” as an association as well as an individual.
P.S. More on the book from the Business School website.
Tan Boon Chin