It would have been an honour to simply be considered for the NUS Outstanding Young Alumni Award, much less to go all the way to the end and receive the award. As someone who just entered his 30’s, I’m relieved that I am still regarded in some quarters as young.
Jokes aside, this award is a testament to the community I have had around me all these years that allowed me to grow into who I am today.
I am grateful to have a supportive family who has supported my efforts on things outside of my core responsibilities, Geekcamp.SG when I was still studying and early on in my career, I Am Talented (IAT) during the early years of my career, and more recently, Project Stable Staples, when people were taking advantage of Circuit Breaker to bond more with their families. Without their understanding and support, I would not be able to do what I’ve done so far.
I am thankful to Michael Cheng early on for his guidance when I started organising tech events as a student and ran the largest tech conference in Singapore in a time before Smart Nation. I’m also extremely appreciative of Chang Sau Sheong and Colin Leong for being supportive of my efforts to give back to the tech community during my first stint at PayPal. I still maintain today that that first stint in PayPal formed the foundations of who I am today.
I’m deeply grateful to the team at I Am Talented (IAT) for absorbing a new face into their team in 2013, and through IATsg, I found a new side of me I never thought existed. I used to be that kid who was extremely reluctant to go to CIP events, but something just clicked serving with this team. David Hoe, Melvin Tay, Kindred Maurice, Nurfadhilla Kamarul, Qamar Firdaus Saini, Peiying, it has been amazing so far, and I look forward to continuing to serve the community alongside all of you in the years ahead.
Of course, a mention of my tech life and IAT would not be complete without a mention of Michelle Lye. She has been extremely supportive of my endeavours so far, from giving talks at GeekcampSG to running tech workshops at IATsg that students just want to keep returning to. Michelle and her AIS Cube team have always been there to make whatever I run a success, and I’d like to thank her for having my back.
With Circuit Breaker last year, I’ve had the fortune of starting up Project Stable Staples with a group of like-minded peers, and while PSS has pivoted in the past year to operate at a smaller but more sustainable scale, I still take with me lessons that I learnt from the early days. I still remember how Gillian, Kelvin and Jesslyn would manage all the offline logistics and communications with the beneficiaries, and I learnt a lot about the social service space working with them. I also like to thank Gillian for continuing to be my sounding board for PSS, especially on difficult days. They continue to inspire me with their work on Bringing Love to Every Single Soul, and I look forward to more opportunities to collaborate in future. I’d also like to thank my friends and colleagues for being supportive of my vision of sustainable giving, joining our sponsor bench, and trusting me that their money would go where it’s needed most. And of course, a mention of PSS would have to include PayPal, who gave me award money to direct where it’s was needed and nominated me for the President’s award last year.
I’m also thankful to folks I’ve met in National University of Singapore who have been supportive of the work I’ve done so far. Miran Ng for being a sounding board when I need one and for listening to all the nonsense I come up with. Prof Gary, Adele and John from SoC have provided me with ample opportunities to give back to my alma mater, and in the process make my employers think that I’m better than I really am 😅. Tembusu College for also having a mentoring programme, and giving me a dinner buddy to catch up with today (but seriously, Tembusu College has honed my critical thinking skills quite a bit). Thank you all for standing by me through all these years.
Lastly, in my entire career in tech so far, the one constant who has always been there is Bernard. From being my first boss at my first internship till now, he has always been there for me, especially when I needed advice. He has also been one of my loudest advocates, and I wanted to take this opportunity to thank Bernard for being there for me all these years.
It is clear by this point that my achievements are not mine alone. They are the result of many people coming together to lift this young punk (yes I’m going to keep calling myself young while I still can). This award is also not an end to the journey, but rather a challenge. Many of my fellow award winners have undoubtedly achieved much more than I have, and I now have much to do to live up to this award.
I look forward to continuing serving the community, alongside all of you 🙂