Published on 15 Sep 2021

Perfect Pairings

Introduced in 2019, the Alumni Mentoring Programme fosters the spirit of giving back and connects current NBS students with NBS alumni mentors from different industries around the world

We rounded up mentor Cyndy Au, her mentee Terrence Fou, mentor Ramanathan Vythilingam and his mentee Prasanna Balaji, to recount their mentoring experience.

Cyndy is a NTU Alumnus (MMC 2012, WKWSCI) & Industry Fellow, Institute for Asian Consumer Insights (ACI) hosted by Nanyang Technological University, 2016-2019.  She has 20 years of experience in the food industry and is now working as Global Regulatory Strategy Lead at International Flavors and Fragrances.

Terrence is a sales enablement specialist under commercial excellence APAC at Boston Scientific, focusing on managing and driving digitalisation projects for sales and marketing segment for teams across Asia Pacific.

Ramanathan (Ram for short)  graduated from the Nanyang MBA programme and has more than 16 years of experience in both regional and global roles at Unilever Singapore, developing expertise in all Insights and Market Research. He is now working as the Global Engagement Insights Lead.

Prasanna has four years of experience across FMCG and Tech sectors and is now pursuing the Nanyang MBA in Strategy & Innovation at NBS.

Q. Why did you join the programme?

Ram: During my MBA programme and in my career, I benefited tremendously from having mentors. Being part of this programme was my way of giving back in a small way. The interaction with new people was an invaluable experience, and I have surely learnt more about myself from these interactions as well.

Prasanna: To get hands-on guidance from industry practitioners on current industry trends and career prospects.

Cyndy: I wish I had such a mentoring programme when starting my career. It was a great opportunity to share with my mentee on what I had learnt.

Terrence: Life is full of lessons. I value continuous improvement and believe that meeting different people brings forth new perspectives.

Q. Tell us something new that you have learnt about yourself.

Terrence: The most valuable takeaway for me is that sometimes Plan B could be a better choice. I discovered that I should be open to more options rather than pigeonhole myself. Also, I learnt not to allow trivial work matters distract my focus from the projects that need my full attention.

Prasanna: I learnt how to leverage my past experience for interviews and achieve my career goals.

Q. What was a most memorable experience?

Ram: For me, it was hearing that Prasanna had secured the internship opportunity he really wanted.  We had discussed the opportunity in detail, reviewed his CV to make sure it addressed the requirements, and practised many interview questions. So it was great to know it was all worth it.

Terrence: For me it would be the regular catch-up with Cyndy over texts or zoom calls, sharing our journey, projects and undertakings, achievements, and learning from each other.

Q. Would you recommend the programme?

Cyndy: We grow by learning and by lifting others along the way. I was surprised at how much insight I gained by speaking to someone about his experience in his career journey. As a mentor, I personally gained from making the best of the programme – reflecting on, and adapting the tips from mentoring to suit myself too. My perspectives were widened to think holistically and act with renewed focus. In short, I highly recommend the mentoring programme as a lot of planning goes behind the scenes and there’s a lot of collective wisdom to tap on.

Terrence: Not only it is always a good idea to build up our professional network, it is also valuable to listen to insights and interesting lessons from someone who has walked the path before. It helped to broaden my horizon and learn best practices when dealing with various challenges.

Ram: Unlike coaching, which has a more formal structured approach, mentorship is more free-flowing. While there is a broad construct around what you are looking to achieve, the rest should remain open-ended, and when you put your trust in the mentoring process, you will reap the gains just like we both did.

Prasanna: I highly recommend this programme as it helped to connect me with industry practitioners of my sector and gain essential guidance.