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Speech by Minister for Education, Mr Chan Chun Sing, at the Nanyang Alumni Awards Presentation Ceremony

Published Date: 23 October 2021 08:00 PM

News Speeches

Members of the Board of Trustees,

Professor Ling San, Deputy President and Provost of NTU,

His Excellency Muhammad Tito Karnavian, Minister of Home Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia,

NTU Alumni, distinguished guests, and all who are joining us online,

1. A very good evening to all of you. It gives me great pleasure to be with you for the Nanyang Alumni Awards Ceremony.

  1. Especially during a time when our usual modes of interaction have been impacted by the pandemic.
  2. Thank you for inviting me to be part of this event where precious ties and friendships are rekindled. This is also a testament to our determination to live our lives as normally as possible notwithstanding the pandemic.

2. I had the opportunity to visit NTU last week.

  1. I left reflecting upon NTU's remarkable journey as it approaches its 30th anniversary. Over the years, NTU has built itself up as a world class institution with cutting-edge research, committed faculty, a thriving student body and distinguished alumni.

3. NTU deeply values its ties with its alumni.

  1. This evening, we celebrate NTU alumni who have made significant contributions to their alma mater, Singapore, and the wider international community.
  2. They join a distinguished group of peers who play an active role in helping to shape NTU.

4. And I would like to thank the NTU alumni on three fronts:

  1. First, thank you for your hard work in inspiring the current generation of students in NTU. Your example will surely motivate them to scale greater heights.
  2. Second, thank you for exemplifying the values that we hold so dear in this institution, and remembering your roots by contributing to your alma mater. There is a Chinese saying - 饮水思源 - to always remember the source of the water that we are drinking from. Your presence tonight embodies this spirit.
  3. Third, and most importantly, thank you for your sustained contributions in paying it forward. You define your success not just by how well you do, but how well you enable the next generation to do even better. This is the kind of spirit that will allow great institutions and countries to continue to flourish -- each and every generation works towards the common goal of leaving behind an even stronger and better foundation for the next generation to scale new heights.

5. I am pleased to join Professor Ling San this evening in giving out awards to 71 outstanding recipients across 2020 and 2021, who are both here in person today and joining us online from various locations.

  1. Allow me to mention a few of the recipients and their achievements.

6. Dr Tito Karnavian, or Bapak Tito, is no stranger to Singapore. He graduated from NTU in 2013 and has a distinguished service record in the Indonesian National Police. The Singapore Police Force deeply values our partnership with him and his units as a cherished counterpart all these years. And I must say that over all these years, without the efforts of Bapak Tito and his team in Indonesia, the region would be quite a different place. Our two countries were able to collaborate in many areas because of the deep sense of mutual trust that we have and this is something that we cherish and will never take for granted. Every generation must continue to establish trust with others, to expand our networks beyond Singapore. This will enable us to collaborate closely with our counterparts in other countries to bring about a better world.

7. Apart from his distinguished contributions to regional counter-terrorism efforts, Bapak Tito is here tonight because he once shared a classroom and the student experience with some of you during his Ph.D. studies at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS).

  1. This is exactly what we are celebrating this evening – ties and friendships that are formed across borders and different industries, which will continue to blossom long after graduation.
  2. Congratulations to Bapak Tito on receiving the Distinguished Alumni Award this evening.

8. Ms Nicole Tan graduated with the Nanyang Business School Class of 1997.

  1. As a fresh graduate, she joined Gillette Singapore as a management trainee.
  2. She then moved to the beauty industry, where she worked in L'Oréal and Estée Lauder, including a five-year stint in Shanghai, before joining Shiseido.
  3. Today, Nicole is President and CEO of Shiseido Asia-Pacific, and manages countries, brands, and activities within the region under the Shiseido Group.
    1. Nicole is also Shiseido's first female regional chief executive in its 149-year history.
  4. Nicole will be receiving the Nanyang Alumni Achievement Award today, congratulations!

9. Mr Chow Chung Ping graduated from the School of Biological Sciences in 2010.

  1. Having joined A*STAR in a biopharmaceutical R&D role upon graduation, his interest in analytical instrumentation led him to join Waters, a biological sciences company as an application chemist.
    1. At Waters, he worked his way up to lead a team focused on ASEAN.
  2. Chung Ping subsequently joined Genedata AG in Switzerland, a bioinformatics R&D company specialising in big data.
    1. Over there, he convinced Genedata's senior management of the strategic value that Singapore could offer as a hub for Genedata's Asia-Pacific operations.
    2. In 2018, Chung Ping returned to establish a Genedata subsidiary here in Singapore, and is currently serving as the Managing Director of Genedata Pte Ltd.
  3. He also continues to give back to his alma mater, regularly engaging with students in the College of Science and the School of Biological Sciences to share career advice and his experiences transitioning between industries.
  4. Chung Ping will receive the Nanyang Outstanding Young Alumni Award today.

10. The experiences of these award recipients, as well as others who are being honoured today, remind us that graduation is merely a gateway to the wider and highly globalized world of work.

  1. Each graduate will need to take steps to forge their own career path.
  2. For some, this involves moving or operating across borders to gain the necessary experience to develop one's career.
  3. I commend Ms Nicole Tan's and Mr Chow Chung Ping's determination to test themselves in the global economy and upon returning to Singapore, to pass on their wisdom and experience to the companies that they now lead.

11. As a country, society, and economy, Singapore is deeply and widely connected to our region and the world.

  1. Many of you who are now in the workforce would have experienced this.
  2. Yet as these past two years have shown us, the global environment is increasingly volatile.
  3. I recently invited the NTU graduating class of 2021 to envision what the future class of 2041 might say to them.
    1. A prominent theme was change and unpredictability in our external environment.
  4. Allow me to pose a similar question here tonight – when you graduated from NTU, could you have predicted what the world would be like today, or the career journeys that you are now on?

12. The point is this – while we cannot predict the future, we can still prepare ourselves as best as we can. These are some important anchors.

  1. The theoretical and practical skills that you developed during your time at NTU, the multifaceted experience of student life, and the opportunities to embark on overseas stints, would have allowed you to build resilience amid complexity, as well as strong networks to flourish in the global marketplace and contribute to Singapore's growth.

13. These connections and experiences are no doubt invaluable.

  1. What further undergirds them is the strong sense of identity and camaraderie formed throughout your education at NTU.
  2. These values will continue to serve you well in life and your careers, and I hope that you will find ways to pay it forward and pass them on to future generations of NTU students.

14. Once again, congratulations to all alumni receiving your awards tonight, and I look forward to your further accomplishments, and your contributions towards helping NTU expand our global networks so that we can do good for our society, our country, and the world.

15. Thank you very much.