Biz Sch News 25 October 2017

Unconventional mentoring methods at The Way To Success programme

Final year Lu Chang shares some key learnings at the recent The Way To Success (TWTS) programme, where he got a chance to get up close and personal with Speaker of Parliament Mr Tan Chuan Jin. Organised by CEO Global, this programme provides cross-cultural student leadership development where students are exposed to values that will lead to success, employment, and a broader range of positive and lasting influence in their community and profession.

Final year Lu Chang (fifth from right) together with Mr Tan Chuan Jin (fifth from left)

On first sight, ‘The Way To Success’ (TWTS) sounded like just another networking or mentoring programme that is offered multiple times a year by the business school. However, after going through the two and half days, it was without a doubt one of the best decisions I made in my undergraduate life to attend this programme.

I came into the programme with the mindset to network with senior executives whom I can connect and seek advice from. In a day and age where networking is so heavily stressed upon, this is in fact quite common. However, let me assure you that TWTS is far more than that.

Aside from the impressive CVs of our mentors, what struck me most was the dedication and commitment of our mentors towards the programme. I had the fortune of mentoring under Cecilia Mok (Retired COO of UBS’ Fixed Income Business) and Ong Chong Hock (Retired Financial Controller and Audit, F&A Shared services, UPS) , who are excellent mentors that made an impact. Instead of a one-way conversation, both Cecilia and Chong Hock facilitated a comfortable environment for sharing, encouraging us to voice out our own opinions instead of simply taking in what has been said by the mentors. Their caring personalities also shaped the dynamics of the group and facilitated more open and vibrant discussions afterwards.

The two and a half days programme is divided into 5 modules which are carefully structured with clear objectives in mind. The modules were designed to teach us on ways to cope with challenges that we may face as we step into the working world. Many of the scenarios depicted were actual real life challenges faced by our mentors in their careers. These thought-provoking scenarios kept us engaged during the sessions as we reflected on our responses should we be placed in the exact same situations.

Unlike conventional classroom settings, this experiential learning environment turned out to be very effective as we considered the various solutions and constraints under various settings. Leveraging our mentors’ wealth of experience, we had a glimpse of how to navigate the grey areas when there is no clear right and wrong. These were valuable lessons that left a deep impression in me.

As the senior group, we had the privilege of hosting Mr Tan Chuan Jin, the incumbent Speaker of the Parliament, during the formal dinner on the second evening. The dialogue with Mr Tan turned out to be more fruitful than I had expected. Mr Tan is a very forthcoming person who is open on sharing his ideas. We had interesting conversations over dinner on a range of issues in Singapore, ranging from the challenges he faced while serving as a MP in Marine Parade GRC to his work as the Speaker of Parliament. The insights provided by Mr Tan exposed us to another side of Singapore that we seldom come across and his views on these issues challenged conventional perceptions, leaving many of us to carefully consider his thoughts.

At the end of the day, it is the people that made the two and a half day programme so enjoyable. TWTS is not just a mentoring programme, but a place where you get to meet like-minded peers as well. I thoroughly enjoyed the company of my group, group 8, during the short two and a half days. The casual small talks and light hearted moments I share with my group will always be fond memories that I will look back upon. I definitely got more than what I had asked for at the end of the programme. Still not convinced? You can sign up for TWTS in the next run to fully appreciate the value of it. (;