A tech entrepreneur with a focus on sustainability, cleantech and renewable energy.
What were you doing before The NUS MBA?
I was a research fellow at NUS when I applied for the part-time MBA at NUS. Then I moved on to work as a technical director in an engineering consulting firm. After one year into the MBA programme, I decided to quit my job and start a venture on cleantech and renewable energy. Before my MBA, I completed my Bachelor’s in Engineering and PhD at the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in NUS.
Why did you pick NUS?
In my opinion, The NUS MBA is the best programme in Singapore, and even Asia, for aspiring entrepreneurs. Through the Innovation & Entrepreneurship specialisation and with the support from NUS Enterprise and BLOCK71, students can gain access to the startup and venture capital communities. The Innovation & Entrepreneurship electives are taught by stellar faculty who are seasoned innovators and investors. Moreover, The NUS MBA offers the flexibility for students to convert from part-time to full-time or vice versa, and for students interested in entrepreneurship, to participate in a consulting project (in my case, an innovation centre) or Lean LaunchPad.
Please share your key achievements and leadership roles on the programme.
As I used to joke about it, I am not a leader but a first follower. My best MBA experiences came when I decided to keep an open mind. It’s more important to embrace a brilliant idea and keep building on to it, than persuading others that mine could be the best idea. It takes great courage and judgement to be the first follower. When I met my cofounder in February 2020, we both kept an open mind and discussed market opportunities and technology gaps without trying to sell our patents to each other. We were then able to quickly identify the opportunity and run with it.
What has been the single most stand-out experience of your MBA?
We participated in Innovate China in 2020, pitched our business proposal of smart glasses for children with autism. To accommodate my schedule as a part-time MBA student, my team usually met up at 10 pm at the MBA Lounge after my evening classes. We squeezed every single minute we could find to work on the proposal and presentation during the last two weeks of the semester. Unfortunately, the pandemic hit, and the trip was cancelled. We had to record our pitch for an online competition and broadcast and won second runner-up in May. However, we had to wait until mid-July (phase II of circuit breaker) to have our celebration.
Tell me something about The NUS MBA that others might not know.
Online classes were much more fun than I expected. In some classes, for example, we were randomly assigned to a case team during the breakout session and had to put up a quick presentation within 30 minutes. We had a good laugh when we had technical hiccups. Although we have been talking about digital transformation, it was such a special experience to be part of the actual process to witness how offline classes can be successfully conducted online without compromising the experience and nature of MBA classes. This can only be achieved through the combined efforts of the faculty, the MBA office and the students.
Who is your personal hero? What is it about him/her that you admire?
Bill Gates, not for his work in Microsoft, but his work in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It’s always inspiring to listen to Bill, how he seeks to provide affordable sanitation, energy and vaccine solutions to the world. It’s a great lesson for a tech guy like me to understand the interplay of technology, business and politics in solving global issues.
Where do you see yourself in 5 - 10 years’ time?
I don’t know what will happen in five to 10 years. But in one year, we will start pilot testing our membrane system. We hope to roll out a fully commercial system and close our seed round within two years and A series within five years.
What advice would you give to other MBA aspirants?
Keep exploring, keep hustling, keep dreaming – but never forget to ask for help.
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