Issue 112, July 2012
Being your own boss
Alumni speakers at the 21st Distinguished Alumni Forum shared their experiences and views on becoming successful entrepreneurs

Organised by the NTU Alumni Affairs Office and the Nanyang Technopreneurship Center, the forum featured four alumni speakers who discussed various issues and provided valuable knowledge on successful entrepreneurship. The session, titled ‘Successful Entrepreneurship – Overcoming Challenges and Sustaining Collaborations’, was chaired by Mr Anthony Teo, former Advisor at NTU’s President’s Office.

First speaker Dr Ho Ngiap Kum (Commerce/1975), the Managing Partner of N K Ho & Co, gave a very interesting summary of his experience in starting his own accounting firm. For him, honesty and integrity are the two key values one should practise, in order to operate a successful accounting firm.  One should also adopt an acceptable internal control system and position the firm differently from other practitioners to gain an edge. Dr Ho also shared some of the risks and challenges in running an accounting firm.

“The success of an entrepreneur is dependent on one’s drive, effort and willingness to consistently learn and improve to succeed,” he said.

Growing up in a humble family, second speaker Mr Sonny Bensily (CEE/1985) provided a brief overview of how he became the proud founder of Prime Structures Engineering Pte Ltd, one of the leading small-and-medium sized construction companies in Singapore. He explained the importance of planning well, especially in terms of acquiring financial stability. Mr Bensily also shared his views on how one can succeed as an entrepreneur.

“One should have a strong and supportive family, a positive environment, a well thought out back-up plan and a ‘dare to fail’ attitude. One should also know what one wishes to achieve, and be willing to step out of one’s comfort zone,” he explained.

Ms Low Yen Ling (NBS/1996), the Chief Executive Officer of Business China, spoke about some of the very successful entrepreneurs around the world, such as Mr Ji Qi, the founder of three Nasdaq-listed companies, Dr Lee Kai-Fu, a legendary figure in the Chinese internet sector, and Ms Elim Chew, a renowned Singaporean entrepreneur in the local fashion industry.

Ms Low, who is also the MP of Chua Chu Kang GRC, went on to share five leadership paradoxes in achieving entrepreneurship success. These include; learning by doing, slowing down to accelerate, harnessing relationships, learning to fail and practising humility.

The final forum speaker, Mr Roderick Chia (EEE/1998), spoke about how he had broken down his big dream of becoming an entrepreneur, into smaller ‘dreamlets’. He explained how he had immersed himself into the business eco-system and looked for partners to start his business with. Beginning his entrepreneurial journey with the creation of a number of companies, he is now the Managing Director of IDM Venture Capital.      

The forum ended with a question-and-answer session featuring interesting discussions with the Forum Chairperson and speakers. Close to 220 participants attended the forum which was held on 17 July at NTU’s one-north campus.

© Alumni Affairs Office