From engineering to private equity investment – alumnus Teo Yi-Dar (’96), Faculty of Engineering, shares business tips and thoughts on giving.
Mr Teo has made a gift to the National University of Singapore (NUS) every year for the last six years to support students through the Annual Giving Campaign.
What were the highlights of your student days?
Like many others, there were the lectures, tutorials, late nights in the labs and libraries and cramming for exams. But I did have a bunch of friends, from various disciplines, who were quite interested in investments, and we learnt a lot from each other.
How has NUS has helped you get to where you are today?
NUS gave me the opportunity to interact with students from different Faculties. Through my Hall of Residence and extra-curricular activities, I learnt beyond my scope of study, and developed interests and knowledge in various fields.
You are a Private Equity Investor. Can you tell us more about that?
Private Equity investing involves a fair bit of seeking opportunities, evaluating them and hopefully, making good and profitable investments. It also requires a lot of travelling to places that one wouldn’t usually imagine going to.
What made you switch from Engineering to Finance?
It’s not a switch. In fact, most of the companies I have invested in are related to engineering. For example, I did a leveraged buyout of an electronics manufacturing services company that I interned at during my NUS semester vacation. I also invested in one of the largest shipyards in China that is now listed on the Singapore Exchange, and several speciality chemical producers throughout China. All of these are engineering-related and my engineering background allows me to better assess and understand these businesses.
What is the biggest lesson you learnt at NUS?
To keep an open mind. There is always something to learn and explore at each new turn.
Is there something you know now that you wish you’d known before?
We humans are not oracles, so it serves no purpose to indulge in such fantasies. I would rather think about what will be, than what should have been.
What are your top tips for business sucess?
Business cycles are getting shorter and to remain relevant and successful, one must be ready to adapt to changes. Staying constant is no longer an option.
Why do you give to NUS?
I benefited from NUS and this is the little bit that I can do for my alma mater. Those who have walked through the door of opportunity should turn back and hold it open for others to pass through.
What do you hope for the recipients of your gift?
I hope to give students the peace of mind to do their best in university.
After graduating with a Bachelor of Engineering degree, Mr Teo went on to earn two more degrees from NUS – a Master of Science in Industrial and Systems Engineering in 1998 and a Master of Science in Applied Finance in 2000.
Annual Giving raises funds for University-wide bursaries and scholarships, as well as student funds at the different Faculties through gifts from alumni, staff, students, faculty and friends of the University.