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Man of Many Talents

Management Committee Member Soh Yi Da, recipient of NUS Outstanding Young Alumni Award 2019, wears many hats contributing to NUSS and NUS, shares about his journey serving the community.

Your journey of service began when you were an NUS undergraduate. What further motivated you to establish close connections with your alma mater after you graduated?

As a university student, I got involved in the NUS Students’ Political Association and subsequently served the NUS Students’ Union (NUSSU) as President. The University provided a great platform for me to pioneer many initiatives that championed active citizenry and a vibrant student life with my fellow volunteers in NUSSU. This journey of service was filled with memorable experiences that widened my horizons and enriched my personal growth during my formative years.

Being grateful for these opportunities had motivated me to serve on the NUS Alumni Student Advancement Committee (ASAC) and also to pay it forward by championing several fundraisers to raise funds for the NUSSU and NUSSU Alumni Bursary Fund (Endowed) and FASSTrack Asia Advancement Bursary Fund to support needy students.

When did you join the NUSS family and start contributing towards the Society?

I started off as a NUSS Junior Member in 2012 when I was serving in the NUSSU Council. I vividly remember I became an Ordinary Member of NUSS in 2014 when I signed up for membership during my Commencement Ceremony.

I first started out serving in two Sub-Committees – the Membership Sub-Committee and the Intellectual Pursuits Sub-Committee – both of which I continue to be involved with today.  The drive and dynamism of the chairmen then (Jeremy Ee for Membership and Jeffrey Khoo for Intellectual Pursuits) in serving fellow members have inspired me to step forward to do more.

Tell us about the Membership Experience Sub-Committee which you chair.

The MESC was an offshoot of the original Membership Sub-Committee. The idea to start the MESC was to have a dedicated sub-committee that focused specifically on deepening engagement with members and growing members’ affinity with the Society.

Building on the strong foundation laid by past Membership Sub-Committee Chairmen – Edward Tay, Prof Lau Geok Theng, Paul Wang and Jeremy Ee, MESC developed a holistic lifecycle management programme.

Since MESC’s inception three years ago, members would have received invitations to some of our new initiatives – such as our Members’ Jubilee Celebrations and Milestone Anniversary Celebrations. We have also enhanced our members’ on-boarding process with the launch of our Mini Guilds where members can choose to be inducted into micro communities supported by Guild Leaders who are Society volunteers. As someone who enjoys bringing people together, it is always a joy to see new connections forged and pleasant memories made.

At the same time, we are continually expanding the range of members’ benefits extensively across hospitality, travel, lifestyle and entertainment categories.

Moving forward, we will continue to engage members to identify areas for betterment, to drive greater member satisfaction and more enriched experience across our Society’s touch points.

Tell us more about the Business Connect group that you initiated.

I started mooting the idea of organising overseas business missions back in 2016. Our inaugural one was to Bangkok, Thailand in March 2017 which was very successful and well-received by members. We saw and recognised that within the society, there was a significant community of business owners and professionals who want to network and explore business opportunities.

Many of our members also have their own business networks around the world. We believe that the Society should provide the platform to connect these members together and help them create new opportunities.

Beyond networking among our Society’s own members, we also believe that we should help our members further broaden their network. Hence, we co-organised numerous networking nights with other business chambers such as the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Singapore, the Belgium Luxembourg Business Group and the Latin American Chamber of Commerce, Singapore.

Across the region, we organised six successful business missions to Bangkok, Phnom Penh, Hanoi, Manila, Yangon and Vientiane. I am very heartened by the successful outcomes from these missions where our members embarked on new cross-border business opportunities – such as in consulting and agricultural trade.

Are there any exciting events or programmes lined up from Business Connect that members can look forward to in future?

We initially planned for several business missions to the region. Given the travel restrictions in place, these trips have got to be postponed for a while. Nevertheless, we have lined up a series of webinars on investments and personal finance which we hope would be useful for members. We also plan for salon nights that would give members an introduction to investing in art and timepieces.

Can you share how you have benefited from contributing your time to the Society?

The time I spent serving the Society and in turn our alma mater, the University had given me great satisfaction. I am very thankful to the Secretariat team at NUSS for helping to translate many ideas into action. I am also truly grateful to have made many good friends and mentors who taught me many useful life lessons.

In particular, serving on the Management Committee (MC) alongside veteran MC members had taught me important principles of good stewardship of an organisation. I would always remember in the process of planning for our new Mandalay Guild House, Lai Kim Seng, Johnny Tan and Eddie Lee would always remind us to always have the strategic foresight and long-term planning to safeguard the long-term interests and sustainability of our Society and fellow members.

What is your aspiration for NUSS?

I hope NUSS will continue to be a progressive Society by tapping onto the collective wisdom of our members, constantly innovating and developing meaningful initiatives that are relevant and engaging for our members. At the same time, I yearn for NUSS and our initiatives to leave meaningful and lasting impact on the global stage. I look forward to the day when talents from Southeast Asia and all over the world convene at NUSS to exchange business ideas and champion social causes.

Any advice to members who are keen to follow your footsteps?

Join and get involved in our Sub-Committees as well as the wide array of Society activities we organise. It’s a good opportunity to meet fellow members and make new friends. We have over 15,000 members with interesting backgrounds and stories to share. Get to know fellow members who share your similar interests and embark on a new journey!

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