Outstanding Australian Alumni Association 2013

Outstanding Australian Alumni Association 2013

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The 160612 Kick-Off

Yesterday, the UMAAS committee convened at The Quayside on Robertson Quay, a swanky part of the island, home to Melvin Gwee, president of the association. Getting there was interesting. On paper, it seemed a fair way from my pad. But the train, bus and walk took me just all of 37 minutes.

What a view! Located upstream from the Singapore River, the locality seemed like urban utopia—removed from the jungle of high-density housing. And walking the stretch along the bank of the River, I took in the sights, sounds and smells of eateries in this unique oasis. 

It was a slice of heaven. I’m coming back for more.

On to less important things…

I thought I’d get to the meet ahead of everyone, but Alan Lek had beat me to it. He was soaking up the charming pool view when I got there. I’m not quite sure whether it was the water or the women, or the frivolity of children playing, you’d have to ask him yourself.

Shortly after, Melvin emerged, all smiles, with his friendly wife and daughter in tow. And after a quick fumble of the keys, Alan led us in. There were quite a few stragglers that drifted into the meet after 1 pm. But it was good to have nearly everyone there.

One would have thought, that being trapped in a room full of mostly blokes (thank heavens for Rachel) on a hot sultry day, next to a pool, with no swim trunks, would have been pure torture. But thankfully, it wasn’t to be. The three hour (three and a half actually if you include the ‘after party’) meet was punctuated with mirth and steeped in ambition.

A number of them including Melvin, Andrew, Rachel, Alan, Daniel and Michael have clearly known each other for a time. And it didn’t take very long for the verbal diarrhea to begin. I’m sorry, I meant, ‘cross pollination of ideas’.  ;)

Melvin communicated that serving our members through various ways including growing the university branding, was utmost important. And he reiterated this a few times during the meet, urging the committee to keep this in view when planning events.

Thankfully, the university chips in, and we cannot take their contributions lightly. While the university receives a fair amount of funding, all of it needs to be properly accounted for and utilised in the most meaningful way. Everyone deserves a slice of the pie and so it’s not easy allocating resources, let alone justifying them.

Remember, there are about 280,000 alumni worldwide, 35,000 who work overseas, spread over more than 140 countries! Their investment into local alumni chapters, including ours (on this tiny island), is a privilege—one this committee is clearly thankful for and mindful of.

An example of a recent investment by the university is the recent setup of an Alumni Council in 2011 (that Rachel sits in alongside 13 other members), which reports to the University Council. It aims amongst other things to encourage among alumni a culture of giving to the University and develop and implement outreach activities that support University of Melbourne students. 

“Sounds good on paper but what’s in it for me?”, you ask?

How the hell should I know! Get in touch with your inner self, failing which, ask your shrink…
Seriously, it’s really up to you to get the most of out of whatever motivates you. You’d need to take a little time to work out what are your goals as an alumni and how best you intend to achieve them.

It will take effort and sacrifice work achieve those goals—like any other achievement in life, and at the very least an active participation, between you and the university. But rest assured, UMAAS will do all it can to empower you and provide you that opportunity to achieve your goals by leveraging on events and other initiatives organised throughout the year.

In the pipeline and not so distant future, are some promising events that we plan to organise:

•   National Day Fireworks Celebration (or whatever it’s called)
•   Standard Chartered Marathon
•   Canopy Walk
•   Charity/Social Event

And that’s not including an event on Wednesday, 20 June—the Business and Economics Annual Dean’s Dinner in Singapore. It promises to be good… I was hoping to rock up in jeans and a t-shirt but I’ve been told that’s only acceptable after everyone’s thoroughly inebriated (think I’ll pack it in just in case). It looks really promising and Melvin, our UMAAS president will be emceeing at the event! So I’m gearing up for it—rotten tomatoes, loud angry placards, the whole works…

Through these events, media publicity and marketing including the all-important—word-of-mouth (which is where all alumni help play a pivotal part), we really hope to grow the membership base of this association, which apparently stands at some 100 members, which is not bad, but just a little short of the 4,000-odd Singapore alumni (some of whom may be based overseas to be fair).

Of course, we also discussed the minutes of the last meeting, had a debrief on the AGM Dinner which was a stand-out success (kudos to Ee Win and team) and sorted out a few administrative bits and pieces (all detailed in Melvin’s outstandingly prepared minutes).

Enough of the corporate ra ra.

As I wind this down and pen off, I’d like to say that, Melvin seems to have all the makings of a great leader, exhibiting a real zeal for this association’s advancement. He’s got all the P’s lined-up… polite, near-punctual, pastoral (I think so anyway) and most telling—patriotic and  passionate!

Let’s just hope he doesn’t go the way of Hitler and manages to stave off potential power psychosis. I’m looking forward to working with him and I believe the rest of the committee are too.

Never mind all his meticulous work with the initial brainstorming of events, organizing of minutes and Commerce Dean’s Dinner (eagle plaque, flyers, facebook edm, emcee role), and officious pledges of support and leadership)…

He brought chips and cookies and juice to the meet. That one act, spoke the loudest and clinched our undying support. Lunch time meets are the best I tell you.

Cheers to a bright new start everyone! And heartiest congratulations Melvin! I think you’ll do splendid!

And wake up, all those who fell asleep half-way reading this-show’s over!

By Yours Truly, Thomas Danny J

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