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Enactus NTU FOC 2013: The Pioneering Spirit

Hi freshmen of Enactus NTU,

Your renditions of “power rangers”, “friday”, “ain’t nobody got time for that”, and “pokemon” are still looping in my mind…LOL!

Despite being given less than an hour to plan and prepare, the creativity, energy and resourcefulness that went into the conceptualisation, rehearsal and delivery of all four performances were fantastic! This spirit of daring to quickly test out your ideas and subsequently refine them on-the-fly until the attainment of awesomeness, is the same secret sauce that has kept Enactus NTU thriving.

This spirit, is the ‘pioneering spirit’.

The ‘pioneering spirit’ is not just about having the guts to go where there is no path and leave a trail. It is also about understanding that instead of having to get it right the first time you do something new, you just have to keep it going. It is about accepting imperfections in the initial stages, and having the heart to just get going and to keep at it.

Without this ‘pioneering spirit’, an idea conceived in Feb 2008 to help the hawkers’ community within Ang Mo Kio could never have evolved into being crowned Singapore national champion in Jun 2013.

In the last 5 years of growing the club, past-and-present Enactus NTU members all possess the common ‘pioneering spirit’ of having the courage to look for troubles beyond our comfort zones (hat-tip to Tam) and execute our plans. While engaging our various stakeholders from the private, public and non-profit sectors, we possess the common ‘pioneering spirit’ of having the tenacity to test multiple assumptions and validate different business models.

As you embark on your Enactus journey with us, you will inevitably encounter challenges from within and the environment (If you don’t, then you aren’t doing enough!). Whenever these moments arise, may you look back at FOC 2013 to remind yourself that you already have the ingenuity to overcome and excel. You, yes you, possess the ‘pioneering spirit’ to bring Enactus NTU to the next frontier.

I have always believed that good luck favours the prepared and pioneering ones. So welcome onboard, and let’s get lucky!

Forever 21,
Uncle JC


The pursuit of happyness

Happyness. It is a feeling we all seek.

It shows up on two conditions. Firstly, we must set a goal. Secondly, we must overcome challenges and setbacks to get to the goal.

When we attain our pre-determined goals, we will find ‘happyness’. And then, we have to start all over again.

On 14 Oct 2011, I found ‘happyness’ after Keppel T&T called to offer me a CorpDev role. 🙂

This part of my life…this little part…is called ‘happyness’. — Will Smith in “The Pursuit of Happyness”

Pure joy after a turbulent job-hunt

An edited excerpt from an email to mentors and friends.


I began hunting for a BizDev role in July, after reflecting upon my 3-S experiences. SIFE; Shanghai (accounting + private equity internships); Starbucks. Though lacking technical knowledge+experience, I thought attitude+work style are good fit.

My 1st offer (Hyflux, BizDev for LatAm markets) came within 1wk of the hunt. I gate-crashed S’pore International Water Week to engage Hyflux VP of BizDev, who referred me to the hiring manager. But I lost the offer after delaying my acceptance. I was holding out for an offer from KIE (Keppel Integrated Engineering), which never materialise in the end.

Then it took almost 4mths to land my 2nd offer (Keppel T&T, Data-center division, CorpDev). Am truly very happy! Woohoo!

Main lessons learnt after this journey.
1. Have passion, have drive.
2. Be prepared, patient, and decisive.
3. Stay true to my conviction, but dont be stubborn.
4. Build my reputation and networks before I need them.
5. Do things for fundamental reasons, not instrumental reasons.

Finally, my key insight.
Set an ambitious goal, and stay open-minded to seizing unplanned opportunities to help get me there. Along the way, always invest time and effort in what I find interesting.

第一天 我存在 第一次呼吸畅快!
第一天 我存在 第一次能飞起来!

“每个选择都要有所牺牲,不愿牺牲,就一定没有快乐,没有精彩,没有意义。” — 黎智英

Work-life Balance in Hokkien

Coming to 2 months, this job-hunt journey has been thrilling, encouraging, energising, disappointing, draining, confusing, and just a few days ago, enlightening.

As always, I’m adopting the unconventional approach. To hustle for what I want; to invest for future earning potential.

So as to provide a better life for Mom and Dad, and, thanks to the Petronas ad, to bring them out to see the world — often.

Seize the day with committed people!

NTU-SIFE @ Nationals 2011

Dear NTU-SIFErs,

When I made the decision to start a financial literacy project for hawkers in Jan 2008, I had no idea it would take me to receive the SIFE Student of the Year 2011 award. I had no idea it would allow me to strengthen acquaintanceships into brotherhood, or to befriend a witty faculty member who’s concerned about my well-being, or to be involved in a Rock Solid Project (RSP) like Gourmet Guru.

I just wanted to seize the day.

The impetus to start came from the unexpected passing away of my aunt, three days before my 22nd birthday. She doted on me since I was a little boy and I had grown use to her pampering. Thus, her sudden departure was a reminder that it all changes in an instant. When I heard the news, I realised life is fragile and time is limited. I know I must act on dreams that are within my reach. And one such dreams, is to initiate a financial literacy project for hawkers.

However, seizing the day is not enough. For any endeavor to grow, perform and endure, I have learnt that it is essential to have committed people.

I found them in NTU-SIFE.

The Spirit of SIFE award we won this year, was a culmination of the time, effort, and sacrifices committed by Ju Hu, Ming Hui, Diana & Pioneer Team and Ming Hui, Stanley, Denise & 1st Exco. We have come a long way from five clueless Year 1 punks, to successfully launching a RSP – Gourmet Guru (GG).

In Jan 2011, Diana-Ming Hui-Stanley-JC, were still trying to make sense of the complicated “SIFE Criterion’’. In March, we were searching high and low for a proper kitchen facility. By June, GG had touched base with various key partners and began rolling out cooking lessons. Within the last seven days, GG has received glowing feedback from SIFE judges, signed MOU with PPIS, and gained media exposure in Suria and Berita Harian.

I am still in awe of GG’s momentum.

It’s a pity that we were so close to being crowned champions this year. Nonetheless, we should be proud of our steady progress over the last three years. We have built a good reputation for NTU-SIFE, and created a nurturing culture within the club. This year, we gained understanding of what constitutes a RSP, and learnt how to deliver a thematic and focused presentation.

There’s a Chinese saying which goes, “饭要一口一口地吃”. Translated into English, it means “Rome wasn’t built in a day”.

We have been patient in getting our foundations right, while also keeping an eye on succession planning to ensure continuity. Going forward, if everyone could commit specific blocks of time to scale GG and develop another RSP, I believe we are well on course to be deserved winners in Nationals 2012!

Thank you for your hardwork, support, and inspiration. Cheers!

“Never underestimate the power of a small group of people to change the world. In fact, it is the only way it ever has.” — Margaret Mead

Age, is just a number.

The first coach of my life, Mr Kesava Das, passed away early this morning, Fri 11 Feb 2011.

Mr Das led me into the world of pole vaulting when I was 13 years old. Then, he was a man in his late sixties who walks with a spring in his steps that belies his age. During the three years under his watch, I went from a complete rookie to achieving a competitive personal best of 3.50m at National Schools’ 2001.

I remember Mr Das was always on time for our training sessions, and meticulous in measuring our progress. As we trained from 3pm to 5pm, I sometimes wondered where and how he mustered the energy to provide multiple personal demonstrations under the scorching sun.

My most memorable moment with Mr Das, was after the C Division Boys Pole Vault medal award ceremony at National Schools’ 2000. I came in runners-up with a clearance of 3.30m, to win the first competitive medal of my 7-year love affair with the sports. As Mom and Dad were not present at the competition ground, Mr Das was the first person I turned to upon stepping down from the podium.

With a wide grin, he gave a mighty thump on my back and said, “Congratulations, young man.”

In the subsequent years whenever I experienced major disappointments, this empowering moment was always a major source of fuel to sustain my passion in Pole Vault.

When the school did not renew Mr Das’s contract for 2002, I organised an appreciation dinner that year, and visited him in his office on Teachers’ Day the following year. Thereafter, I stopped contacting him. This, is a big regret.

I will never get to thank Mr Das in person again. Thus my hope is to pay it forward. May this account of his guidance during my formative years, inspire TCHS Pole Vault juniors and aspiring coaches for generations to come.

Mr Das, your actions taught me that age is just a number. From your consistency and decade-long service to TCHS as a coach, I guess you were driven with a purpose to raise awareness of pole vaulting in the local athletics scene. In my eyes, you were successful in this mission. The number of ex-TCHS pole vaulters present at Mandai despite the short notice, is a testament to your dedication in developing homegrown pole vaulters.

Most importantly, you showed me what is humbleness. Although you had produced many medal winners during your tenure, you quietly passed the flame to younger torch bearers of the local pole vault scene (e.g. Mr David Yeo) when their new techniques and methods are delivering results.

Thank you for your lessons on purpose, consistency, and humbleness. You had made a difference in my life.

NOTE: In remembrance of Mr Kesava Das, one of the founding fathers of Singapore’s Pole Vaulting scene, the TCHS Pole Vault Alumni is launched on Fri 11 Feb 2011.

The Hard Truths to Keep Me Learning & Thriving

On Learning
Starbucks Card

On Thriving

Marry the arts and the sciences, to read and simplify the complexities of the world. — takeaway after a catch-up session with HH, ZQ, and EA.