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#SMCHiking Library Reflection 
By Clarence Lee Sheng

I am Clarence Lee, a Year 2 Sophomore at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), majoring in Design and Artificial Intelligence. 


The hike was held at Labrador Park and the mentors for the day were Mr Mandeep Nalwa, who managed USD 3 billion asset as one of the largest private MFO in Singapore and Mr Chong GuoLiang, Director of Carlyle Group, one of the largest investment firm globally with close to USD 300 billion funds. 


The mentors for this trip were based in the finance sector and we had a chance to learn from experts in the area. I had the opportunity to talk to Shao Tu, an employee under Taurus group. He gave me valuable insights on his job scope and he talked about many opportunities for automation in the finance sector. One of the opportunities for automation that he talked about were that of portfolio consolidation, where many areas are still managed by spreadsheets. We also had an interesting conversation on the advantages and disadvantages of algo-trading, and how it competes against human traders. He mentioned that the benefit of Algo trading is that they are not affected by human emotion, however, there are still regulations by the MAS which dictates certain risk control. 


The mentor sharing was particularly insightful as we learnt the journey of Mr Mandeep’s personal career. He inspired me with his story on having the resolve to actively seek his own opportunities. Rather than waiting for the headhunters, he took matters into his own hands and rung up CEOs. Even though he was getting rejected, he was creative and thought of ways to get the emails of the CEO by pretending to be a disgruntled customer. Mr Mandeep also shared the importance of having a well balanced life, managing between career and family. Whilst striving for career is important, one must not sacrifice on family. During his sharing, he also talked about three key factors, “opportunities, choices and luck”. He mentioned that our successes depends on the opportunities we got and whether we made the choice to capitalize on those opportunities, giving an anecdote of a career opportunity that he had missed, but afterwards making a conscious decision to make a career switch. He also mentioned that luck had played a factor in his success and thus it was important for us to give back. 


We also had the opportunity to learn from Mr Chong who shared with us the importance of time. He mentioned that we do not have the ability to learn every single thing and thus it was necessary to make sacrifices and choose wisely what we invest our time in. This resonated with the idea that success depends on the choices that we make. 

However, the highlight of the hike was a call to action made by Dr David Ong. During the hike, we had a short stop at a jetty. We were instructed to look out into the horizon and take an appreciation of the view. Sprawled ahead of us in its splendor was that of Jurong Island. Formed from reclaimed land to join up seven small islands, it was a testimony to the vision that our forefathers had for Singapore. The economic success of Singapore has been shaped by the strong foresight of our leaders, one example was Lee Kuan Yew who led the first generation of leaders, and Mr Philip Yeo, who played a huge part in the innovation and economic development of Singapore, and had accelerated large scale projects such as the formation of Jurong Island. Despite having no natural resources, Singapore has launched itself into the top 3 oil trading hubs in the world. Such unprecedented feats could only be achieved through the wisdom of the leaders in the first and second generation. Moving into the current generation of leaders, how may we leverage on the success and learning lessons of our forefathers? How may current leaders built the capacity needed to bring Singapore to future success. The key to building this capacity stems from two sources of strength, one is a strong self belief and self taught mechanism, and the second is a strong mentorship foundation, which the second generation of leaders had through close contact with the first generation of leaders. The success of Singapore has become a double edged sword, where it has become easy to rest on our laurels, and become comfortable standing on the shoulders of giants. Many of our current leaders and scholars enjoy accelerated promotion and swift career progression, leaving them with barely enough breathing space to build up the capacity needed for a strong vision and a strong leadership. 

Despite this, there is an avenue to build up on the strength of our current generational leaders if the gap is filled by having good mentorship. As such, in order to build global ready leaders who can nurture global ready talents, a strong foundation need to be sowed amongst the leaders of the current generation. 


On a more personal note, the hike organized by SMC has made me realize that I have a deeper role to play in the future of Singapore. It is through SMC Mentorship programme that I have become more aware of the deeprooted societal issues in developing a global ready Singapore. It has also excited me and inspired me to be able to play a larger part in creating a vision for the future of Singapore. Such insights and learning could not be possible without the guidance of the SMC Mentorship Programme. 


With appreciation to the SMC mentorship Committee, 


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