Materials engineer turned preschool teacher and marketer charts his journey of exploration and growth

Ever wondered where relentless curiosity and the courage to traverse beyond uncharted boundaries could lead? There's a saying that goes, "Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back." And it clearly illustrates Yan Da’s one-of-a-kind professional journey that spans across engineering, early childhood education, and marketing. 

After obtaining his Bachelor’s Degree in Materials Engineering from NTU, Yan Da worked in a MNC as a process engineer. Then, he quickly realized that his true calling lay beyond the confines of traditional engineering roles. 

"Engineering sharpened my problem-solving skills, but I yearned to make a more direct impact," he reflects. This realization sparked a bold transition into early childhood education, driven by a desire to shape future young minds.

Taking the leap of faith by venturing into early childhood education

To many, the abrupt transition from the world of engineering to the dynamic realm of preschool education may appear daunting, but driven by a passion to make a meaningful difference, Yan Da pursued a one-year diploma in early childhood education when he joined a preschool startup.

With the willingness to learn and an open mind, Yan Da pressed on and embraced the steep learning curve with enthusiasm. "Embarking on this journey felt like diving into a colourful new world. Every day is an opportunity for me to learn,” he shares. “And for me to influence the future. It’s a chance to nurture creativity and curiosity in young learners.” 

Getting his feet wet in marketing for early childhood education

Yan Da's journey took another sharp turn as his role soon expanded beyond curriculum planning to encompass marketing. This unorthodox shift unveiled a new set of challenges and learning opportunities. "I found myself at the intersection of education and innovation, leveraging marketing to connect with families and communities," he recounts.

Seeking to excel in his new role, Yan Da strives to pick up the skills he needs. He relied heavily on online learning platforms at first, but finds them lacking in the human touch.  “While online resources like YouTube and LinkedIn learning provide valuable content, they often lack personalized interaction with qualified experts,” he added. 

Yan Da also found himself grappling with the complexities of digital marketing. "I was simply experimenting with marketing posts on Instagram and Facebook, but it proved to be a time-consuming effort with very minimal returns," he recalls. 

An opportunity to learn marketing from his alma mater

When Yan Da learned from his friends and fellow NTU alumni about the subsidies and grants made available to NTU graduates, he jumped at the opportunity. “One of my classmates who had completed the FlexiMasters programme shared that NTU graduates are able to tap on subsidies and funding1 that could significantly help reduce the fees of the programme,” Yan Da thought back. “Which I thought was a great opportunity for me.”

He did some research, and he enrolled himself in the FlexiMasters in Marketing in a Digital Work. “It was the perfect opportunity and time for me to deepen my understanding of digital marketing," he explains. 

The programme proved to be a fruitful endeavour for Yan Da. More than a mere academic pursuit, the FlexiMasters provided Yan Da with practical, real-world marketing application. "What stood out to me was the programme's focus on real-life scenarios, pushing us to apply what we learned in tangible ways," Yan Da notes. "It pushed me to apply learned theories in real scenarios, reshaping my approach to digital marketing." 

Direct access to professors provided an advantageous learning experience in FlexiMasters

The learning experience Yan Da had with the online learning resources pale in comparison with what he has experienced with the FlexiMasters. “I feel that the direct access to a professor provides better clarification and guidance be it via email or in-person meetings,” he emphasised. “This provides better clarity for greater and deeper understanding of marketing concepts.”

He even went on to credit how the programme has broadened his understanding of branding, audience engagement, and strategic product positioning; all of which helped reshaped his mindset about marketing to think critically. 

“The programme prompted me to deliberate on strategic considerations I hadn’t thought about before. What is the purpose behind a post? Who is our target audience? What are their needs? Where does our product fit into the market?” Yanda clarified. “These questions ignited a deeper understanding of branding and market positioning. It also allows me to understand my organisation, which ultimately provided me greater clarity and purpose to our marketing efforts."

Embracing Lifelong Learning

While Yan Da admits that he’s nowhere near a marketing maverick, he has a newfound appreciation for lifelong learning. “I have come to appreciate the importance of lifelong learning as I have realized that there's always more to learn beyond the university,” he muses. “I have also come to recognise the importance of being open to learning and upgrading myself.”

“It's a continuous journey of growth, adaptation, and exploration," he stressed. 


1The subsidies and funding include (1) SkillsFuture funding of up to 90% for all Singaporean Citizens and Permanent Residents, (2) NTU Alumni Course Credits of up to $1,600 for all graduating alumni (Graduating students of 2020 and 2021 received $3,200 in credits that was valid till June 2022 and 2023 respectively) 


FlexiMasters in Marketing in a Digital World
To do well as a marketer, you need to know how to tell a good brand story, the tools (digital and non-digital) available at your disposal, and how to use data to inform your decision.

The programme is designed to help marketers succeed in this digital age. You will be equipped with fundamental marketing knowledge, important analytics, and digital marketing skills to meet industry demands in this age of complexity.

If you are a marketer who would like to refresh your knowledge, or someone who would like to switch to a marketing role, this is the programme for you.