Outstanding Australian Alumni Association 2013

Outstanding Australian Alumni Association 2013

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

O Happy Night!

2012 Annual Commerce Dean’s Dinner in Singapore

Remember that song, O Happy Day in Sister Act 2? Listen to it, if you haven’t. It’s just magical and leaves you on a high note. And that’s exactly how I felt at the end of our Annual Dean’s Dinner in Singapore.

It was such a treat. I’d never been to Tower Club Singapore (let alone heard of it) and can’t remember the last time I had my fill of fine dining or suited up to a local dinner event!

Everything felt new, even the experience of meeting accomplished individuals, including the Dean—Prof Paul Kofman and the Director of Advancement Faculty of Business and Economics, Stephen May; very personable individuals.

Left to Right: Professor Paul Kofman, Melvin Yong, Chaly Mah, Stephen May

Drinks were served at a cocktail reception before we made our way into the dining area. I’d forgotten we were 62 floors up. The view was just magnificent! But you know what? I had my back to it the whole time, because the company around me was even better.

There was funny man, Christopher Brown, who loved model airplanes and was especially tickled by the word—‘pheromones’; Christine Cheng, with her good looks and charming killer whale dreams; Anna Smola, the 10-year Red Cross volunteer who generously shared about an unforgettable ‘yeast cells’ write-up she did back in Germany; Ali MacLeod, the lovely lassie from Scotland, with stories of a fun night-out at Raffles Hotel’s Long Bar; Cheng Xun, an ex-national swimmer who immensely enjoys the company of his wife; and Anne Corder, who was acclimating to Singapore after her recent arrival and gearing up for her weekend dive.

LR: Christine Cheng, Danny Jeyaseelan (blog writer), Christopher Brown, Anna Smola, Ali Macleod

It was also great to see fellow members of the alumni committee, including Keelan (who was first on the scene) Agnes, Rachel, Clarence, Michael, the unmissable dynamic duo of Ee Win and Melvin Gwee who did a bang-up job liaising with the university, organising invites and emceeing the exclusive event.
The Dean’s Sterling Speech

You know, I just love hearing good speeches. And can I say, it was an absolute privilege to hear the Dean’s address. Prof Kofman welcomed everyone, mentioning in particular, Melvin, Rachel and Daniel Teo—a life-time honorary member of the Alumni Association.

He touched on a few things, starting with the strategic importance of Singapore.

“This is the Asian Century. Singapore is Australia’s largest trade and investment partner in ASEAN and the sixth largest trading partner overall. Singapore is also a strong feeder of international students to the University and the Faculty. It is home to the third largest alumni cohort outside of Singapore (over 4,300 alumni here). FBE [The Faculty of Business and Economics] receives the most international students from Singapore.

“Singapore remains the most popular South East Asian destination for outbound student mobility and is the employment destination of choice for students from Singapore, and also many from China, India and Australia.”  

On the Faculty’s vision and ambition, Dr Kofman shared that FBE wishes to “provide a globally engaged environment, which will attract and inspire the brightest minds to learn; teach and research; and make positive contributions to national and international communities”. 

The final part of his speech was devoted to how the strategic importance of Singapore and the Faculty’s vision and ambition, was relevant to alumni.

“We want you to be active participants in student ‘outreach’ – being proactive in promoting the Faculty, the University, as being the educational and experiential destination of choice for students from Singapore."

He made several suggestions on how alumni can be informed, engaged and passionate about what the university does. Some of them include assistance with recruitment and mentoring, joining the alumni council, providing feedback on initiatives via online forums and calls, donating, investing in world changing ideas, staying in touch and attending events.

Not surprisingly, his enlightening speech invoked interesting questions and comments, on the effectiveness of the Melbourne Model, the University’s extent of student engagement and promotion, and the need for University involvement in developing local leadership and internship programs.

Honorary Life Member, Mr. Tan Kah Hoe JP, PBM, addressing the dean on alumni relationship

         Mr. Chaly Mah (CEO Asia Pacific Deloitte) addressing the dean on local leadership and internship programs

Now for the rest

Breathe! We’re nearing the end! Did you know that fine dining and food rationing go hand in hand? I hadn’t realised I was into my third course until someone pointed out that the earlier servings of smoked scallops capaccio and cream of mushroom weren’t appetisers!

Guess I got served! But hey, the Panna Cotta dessert was exquisite and of a generous portion, and the waiters were kind enough to let me have a taste of both options for the main course! The pan-seared cod fish fillet was divine. No complains about the freshly brewed, decaffeinated coffee! :)

During the dinner, we were also entreated to a presentation by Simon Ho Khee Lim, who shared his passion for photography and promoted his book—Orchids of Splendour: A face of Singapore at $10, the entire proceeds of which go to the Straits Times Pocket Money Fund.  

                Mr. Simon Ho, past president of Australian Alumni Association and a very accomplished photographer. 

Melvin, our UMAAS president, presented the Dean with an awesome eagle plaque. And once everyone had their fill of food and fun, our dinner guests started leaving. I continued to stay with the wonderful company around me till closing and it was hugs all around before we parted ways and pledged to keep in touch.

I was hoping our Melbournian organisers would pack me in their suitcase and take me to Malaysia, the final part of the Dean’s Southeast Asian circuit. But it was not to be (not this time anyway). Am hoping we will all see each other again soon sometime! I wish our Melbournian and local guests including alumni, the very best. Have a good one! Till next time. Cheers!


Special thanks to Prof Kofman, Stephen May, distinguished guests including Tan Kah Hoe, Daniel Teo, Loh Hoon Sun, Simon Ho, Bay Yew Chuan, Chaly Mah, Chris Gawan-Taylor & Melvin Yong. Also many thanks to Christine Cheng, Ali MacLeod, Teri Ng, UMAAS, MBS alumni, Tower Club staff and myself (for documenting this—hey, these things take time!).

By Yours Truly - Thomas Danny J

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