By Sadia Roohi
It has long been debated whether good leaders are born with innate leadership qualities, or they learn the skills over time. While scholars have not come to a consensus on this, one thing is for sure, great leaders are all-rounders with EQ and soft skills who can motivate and manage team members to strive towards a common goal.
The first group of 23 alumni participated in the 4-module IMPACT Leadership Mentoring Programme from November to December 2022.
With 46 NTU alumni associations established in Singapore, there are many opportunities for interested alumni to step into a leadership role and steer alumni relations for a school, hall, or an interest group.
26-year-old Emile Chiu (SBS/2022) has been active in the alumni association of NTU School of Biological Sciences (SBS) since June 2022 and was appointed as its President in August 2022. While holding a full-time job as a management associate at Enterprise Singapore, he commits to organising events for SBS alumni in his spare time.
Emile Chiu, who was appointed the President of SBS Alumni Association in August 2022, learnt about the importance of developing an ethical career.
As the SBS alumni association is fairly new, one of the challenges he faced was to establish a committee team and lay the groundworks.
Thankfully help came to him in the form of training last year where he was invited by the University Advancement Office to be one of the 26 young leaders enrolled in the IMPACT Leadership Mentoring Programme, to receive mentorship and coaching over four weekends in November and December.
His most memorable lessons were the importance of building an ethical career and keeping close-knit relationships which can contribute to longevity and happiness.
The workshops provided an opportunity for the alumni to engage in in-depth discussions with the mentors.
Emile said: “The mentors shared from their experiences how to deal with dilemmas at work which I learned how to simulate my own thought process if I were in similar circumstances. I am also intrigued by the distinction between having an intent and being intentional in our actions. For example, putting a plan into action is just as important as having a vision and purpose for an organisation, because saying means nothing without actual implementation.”
Learning from the best
NTU’s University Advancement Office partnered with Compass@Campus to organise the leadership programme with the aim of preparing the next generation to rise to future challenges. The attendees get to tap wisdom of 11 mentors and facilitators who have over 30 years of working experience and previously helmed high career positions or ran their own businesses. Course modules include developing greater interpersonal effectiveness and learning servant leadership style.
Another young alumni leader who graduated from the programme is 27-year-old Jaslin Lim (EEE/2019), who serves in the NTU Welfare Services Club Alumni Association as President. She felt that the series of workshops provided her with better life management skills and gave her a fresh lens on people management – everyone can fit in a team regardless of their personality traits if each member makes an effort to understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
Jaslin Lim (centre) with fellow alumni and mentor at one of the IMPACT programme's sessions.
“In life, we classify the rocks as the most significant aspects, the pebbles as the lesser and the sand as the least. We need to be aware of these rocks in our life and how they should be balanced so that there is focus on the more important things. Everyone defines success differently and through the programme, we understand that success should not be simply defined in monetary terms. Earning money for a living and having high career achievements are important but we need to make sure that we are not doing it at the expense of our other priorities such as our relationships and health," explained Jaslin.
Moving forward, she hopes to be able to engage more Welfare Services Club alumni to bond together and participate in volunteering activities. Through the recent alumni volunteering events such as participating in the Befriend Our Migrant Friends carnival, she realised that many of them are keen to volunteer on an ad-hoc basis and that volunteering brings them closer together.
The first run of the IMPACT programme was successfully concluded in December 2022. The next session will be held in September 2023.
Mr Th’ng Beng Hooi, NTU’s Director of Alumni Engagement, said: “This is the first time Compass@Campus is conducting the programme for NTU alumni although they have done so for students of NTU and other universities. It is one of our new programmes to engage young alumni leaders, which is aligned with our strategic objective to strengthen alumni networks and deliver growth and enrichment to our alumni. We are pleased that participants have given positive feedback that they have learnt a lot and can build and further develop their leadership skills.”
The second edition of IMPACT Leadership Mentoring Programme is slated for September 2023, and the attendees will similarly be nominated by senior alumni leaders.