Biz Sch News 13 July 2017

Corporate fundraiser turns attention to supporting education

Mr Ong Hwee Li, CEO of SAC Capital decided to to gift NUS Business School by establishing the SAC Capital Bursary.

He shares why he decided to make that step through his firm, a successful corporate finance company specialising in raising funds for organisations through the capital market such as initial public offerings (IPOs).

Mr Ong Hwee Li, CEO of SAC Capital

SAC CEO, Mr Ong Hwee Li, says, “SAC has been contributing to various charities for some time. After a discussion with my partners at the firm, we decided to support education at NUS this year. We feel it is important to provide financially-needy students with the opportunity to level up in society. Family background, to a certain extent, does affect a person’s educational journey.”

Coming from a simple background, Mr Ong understands exactly what it is like to struggle financially while studying. Having very little pocket money, he started working part-time while in secondary school and only managed to complete his tertiary education at Monash University with financial help from a close family friend. To save money on fees and living expenses, he worked doubly hard to graduate a semester ahead of time. With this in mind, he hopes beneficiaries can focus on learning and advancing their knowledge instead of worrying about their financial situation.

Being equally driven in the corporate world, Mr Ong worked tirelessly in finance jobs for seven years before starting his own firm.

“When I decided to strike out on my own, there were many hurdles and unknowns. People told me I did not have the technical skills nor the contacts to make it. I ignored them and persevered on,” shares Mr Ong, whose company today has close to 30 employees and is still expanding.

The father of two, whose wife is a stay-home mother and does community work in her free time, believes that everyone plays a role in giving back to society. Corporations who are profitable should seriously consider supporting education as everyone can, either directly or indirectly, benefit from helping the next generation.

Mr Ong asserts that success should never be measured by a person’s career, but he does have advice for students who want to succeed in any industry.

“First, always be prepared. When you have free time, do not be idle, but instead pick up a new skill, or do difficult things that expand your comfort zone. Secondly, be adaptable. What is relevant today may not be relevant tomorrow. There’s only so much you can forecast and foresee.”

On his decision to support beneficiaries within NUS Business School, “I feel this is the place where the next generation leaders for Singapore are groomed. The quality of its education will shape the foundation of corporate Singapore and its capital markets.”

This article is contributed by NUS Giving.