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Be humble and down to earth

I am Clarence Lee, a Year 1 Freshmore at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), majoring in Design and Artificial Intelligence. 


I had an opportunity to be a part of the SYC Hiking Tour at Macritchie reservoir. The leading mentor was Ms.Kathy Chen, Twitter China ex-CEO, and Dr. Ong, head of the Singapore Mentorship committee. The Singapore Mentorship Committee aims to nurture future global-ready talents in Singapore by connecting youths to high network mentor who has a wealth of experience in managing large companies or MNCs.



As the scenic walk began at Macritchie Reservoir, we had the chance to embrace nature’s beauty as sauntered at the side of the boardwalk along the northern route of Macritchie Reservoir. I had the opportunity to strike a conversation with a Chinese student who had taken his Masters of Accounting in Glasgow, and is currently waiting on his visa to begin work in Singapore. 

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We talked about our passions, hobbies and what we do. He shared with me his experience in an equity firm and had some talks regarding programming-related topics. As a fitting conversation to the hike we were taking part in, he shared with me about the Infinite Monkey Theorem which describes a monkey being able to type out Shakespeare given an infinite amount of time. I definitely had a different perspective afterward as I looked at the monkeys wandering about on the trails during our hike.



The highlight of the trial was definitely the ability to talk and learn more from the assigned mentor, Ms Kathy Chen during the hike. Her multifaceted experience could be felt when she started to share her experience in missile research in China’s defense industry for 7 years. She has also had a computer science background and worked in many companies like Microsoft, IBM and Twitter. 


I was curious about working in a team so I asked her the method she employs to choose people she wants to work with. She shared with me the importance for students to be humble and talked about how she liked people who were very down to earth. She also mentioned the importance of having due thought for the problem despite knowing the solution to the problem. I also sought her advice on the topic of asking questions. 

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She emphasized how necessary asking questions were and shared that asking questions is a skill that needs to be developed. In her years of working, there was always the need to ask questions and learn the art of it. This required constant practice and searching for better ways to ask questions.



Towards the end of the hike, there was a final sharing by Ms. Kathy which summed up the whole experience. Having had a wealth of experience in the working world, I was very inspired by her tenacity and fortitude in getting into the top companies despite being the minority group in terms of gender and ethnicity. 

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Throughout this hike, we learned some key takeaways and not able quotes such as“Mindset is king” and “吃一堑长一智”.



All in all, I was very appreciative to have the opportunity to learn from the mentors during the hike. Learning from these mentors is a journey and there is definitely much more to learn which exceeds the duration of the hike. However, this two-hour hike definitely beats anything I could be spending my time doing on a Saturday and it was a truly meaningful experience. 


On a side note, it is definitely time to start improving my Chinese to get the most out of these experiences!


With an appreciation to the SMC mentorship committee,


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