Mr Gavin Tan (’97) may only have been a part-time Masters in Business Administration (MBA) student at the National University of Singapore (NUS), but the Consultant gives every year, crediting the University for where he is today.
What made you enrol at NUS?
I started my career as a military psychologist. I was curious about business as my father had started a couple of businesses. So, I took up the MBA course to see where it would lead me. It opened up an opportunity for me to use my psychology training in the business world.
Why do you give to NUS?
NUS is local and Singapore is important to me. I believe we should first help the people around us before we hold any lofty ideal of changing the world.
What are your hopes for the recipients of your gift?
One night when I was a child, I walked past a wooden house in my neighbourhood. I saw a shirtless man looking quite pleased at his two young daughters doing their homework. From what I could see, his house had only one electric bulb hanging above the dining table with stools that the girls sat on. There was really nothing much else in that house. That image of one naked light bulb shared by the two girls studying somehow never left me. To me, the father and kids with their limited means were serious about education. I hope my gift will help people like them, giving them an extra boost in their journey.
Do you think it is important for alumni to give to NUS? Why?
Yes, certainly. It is a good reminder not to forget the people, organisation or country that has helped you to be who you are today.
How has NUS helped you get to where you are today?
My MBA has allowed me an easier entry to the private sector which happens to be a better fit for me, career-wise. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think the Singapore public sector is a less desirable place to be. In fact, I hope more people will see that our public service deserves our respect. Many of my consultancy projects are with the Singapore public sector which I have an affinity with because that is where I first started.
You are a Consultant. Could you tell us a little bit about what you do?
I help organisations understand their employees through surveys which I design. Once the management knows the issues concerning their staff, they can take the necessary actions, often without my help, to make things better for their staff and their businesses.
What is your top tip for success?
Do your very best. Don’t worry about the next career or where the next customer will come from. Your current job or customer is your best advertisement or reason for your next.
What are your interests outside of work?
I like solitary activities like running and reading. It’s too bad you can’t do both of them at the same time!
If you can change something about your life, what would it be?
I would have better cherished the opportunities I had when I was younger – there were times when I took the easy way out or when I thought too much of my own abilities.