Welcome to Day 3 of the Conference. Let me give you a run-through of a super packed day in the conference!
I was a nervous wreck being the emcee.
We were so privileged to have Ms Sharifah Affiah, former principal of St George’s Girls’ School, a Malaysian Secondary School notable for its academic achievement. She shared with us the process of how her Campus Co-op managed to achieve an annual turnover of RM 560K as she constantly sought to innovate her co-op business model for the sake of sustainability.
Ms Sharifah shared her vision – to push her students to pursue not just academic achievements, but also holistic learning. Hence, she set-up various CCA with many projects tasked for them – to encourage such learning.
St George’s Girls’ School Experiential Entrepreneurial Education Programme (SEEEP) empowers the students to have real life opportunity with entrepreneurship.
Let me elaborate on the diverse entrepreneurship models the school adopted.
The school revamped their hostel into budget hostels that can host foreign students from various overseas schools during their conference. The girls in St George’s will not hesitate to roll up their sleeves to serve their peers by doing laundry, housekeeping and many more.
Understandably, many parents will raise their eyebrows in shock if they know their children had to manage this service line in conjunction with their studies.
But Ms Sharifah held on to her vision to go against the tradition and shared that she knew her students will be future leaders. However, being leaders would mean that they need to know what their staff do and hands-on experience is necessary for the students to grow.
Not only do these students serve in managing the hostels, they too become tour guides to share their knowledge with foreign students about St George’s and Penang too. Before accepting the responsibility of being a tour guide, the students had to read up on the history of their school as well as basic history on Penang. Such skills aid in building their confidence through public speaking which greatly aids in their communication. I believe these are soft skills which will never be able to learn in just pure academics.
Other than budget hostel, this innovative school also provides catering service! The school receives a lot of visits from both local official school personnel and overseas delegates. Since the school is a sponsored venue, the school also decided to charge minimum fee for food. They also offer different packages of tour in school. Through such a service, the students can practice their hospitality skills and ensure that the respective delegates satisfy their tummies during the visiting.
Indeed, product diversification is the key success for St George’s Girls’ School where the leaders see the need and fill up the gap through innovation for the co-operative’s sustainability.
“Never ever give up!”
Ms Sharifah Affifah’s ended her sharing with a word of encouragement for the youths.
Our last speaker of ACLC 2017 was our very own former SNCF scholar of 2013, Mr Yeo Tiong Hui who shared about his SNCF scholarship journey with the congregation. I shall break down his sharing into 3 sections – the reason why he chose SNCF scholarship, his internship choice, his eventual career choice and his career opportunities.
- Reason for SNCF Scholarship
During his National Service, Mr Yeo volunteered with LEO Club at Singapore Leprosy Relief Association (SILRA) Home which is committed to improve life of ex-leprosy in Singapore through providing them with love, home, health care and life skills such as handicraft skills and rehabilitative work.
He remembered vividly that one day, his team was supposed to bring them out of the home for a tour and a chartered bus is needed. To us, a bus ride is just bringing us to destination A to destination B. But to them, it is a whole new world because they seldom get a chance to be out. That touched him for sure and gave him a social mission to believe in!
Also, Mr Yeo is a mid-term scholar where he studied for 2 years in SMU (jed, please put in the course) before he came to know about social entreprise which is the middle ground of charity and traditional business.
Doesn’t this sound like a co-operative business model?
From this, we can already sense his inclination towards a business that is able to sustain social causes.
Lastly, choosing a scholarship route enabled him to lighten the financial burden at home too. Mr Yeo shared that the best part of SNCF scholarship, was to receive allowance and that eased his worries of taking up part time job. With this hard-earned freedom, he channelled his time to SMU – initiative for social enterprise.
- Internship Choice
He was keen to intern at NTUC Enterprise Co-op which was newly set up in 2013. He shared with his dad and his dad encouraged him to give it a try. But there were no designated personnel whom he can speak to.
However, he happened to meet Mr Tan Suee Chieh, then Group CEO of NTUC Enterprise during a conference and decided to write in for that internship position for strategic development. He went in and aid its first annual report which is an eye-opening for him! As we can say, the rest is history.
- Career Choice
Now I’m sure we are all wondering, why did he choose Educare Co-operative (please insert the link) instead of NTUC sector.
Mr Yeo shared that:
- It is important to find a role that you are interested in
- He applied for a role and got into a different role. Hence, he decided to challenge himself to do different things.
He graduated with a bachelor of (idk, strategic development and corporate communication). With his current knowledge, he began his first year in Educare in the Humans Resource Division and was trained to be certified hirer. In 2016, he began in visit around the world in the education consultancy division which gave him more insight on how other countries’ teaching system works and how Singapore system can aid in theirs too.
- Career opportunities
Lastly, he shared about his current CEO – Mr Mike Thiruman and how he offered ceaseless opportunities to him.
Within 3 months of employment, he was appointed to be in – to renovate the office. He learnt to communicate with everyone of different age in his office about shifting the office, what type of design, colour etc for the betterment of the Educare office.
He also had the freedom to brainstorm and share new ideas with Mr Mike Thiruman since he works closely with him and Mr Mike Thiruman gave him ample room for him to try out his ideas too.
Tapping on this, he urged the members of the conference to give the youths an opportunity to know about co-operatives and working environments, by giving them an internship or a career opportunity. He firmly believed that this will help to widen the different perspectives of Co-operative through the lens of the youths and more will come to know about the very humble beginnings of Co-operatives which focus on the heart, not just profit.
With that, ACLC 2017 ended with a very insightful panel of discussion by the speakers who emphasized on:
- Bold and courage #outofcomfortzone
- Embrace changes
- Mindset shift
- Purposeful engagement
- Focus on people
- Leverage on technology
- Be part of the change
Being a member of the audience, I benefitted a lot as the speakers offered insights into their personal experiences. What an enjoyable and meaningful conference!