Alumni Happenings

Shaping Tomorrow, With Today’s Good

Written By: Sofilia Zaidee

After being in the Singapore Public Service for more than 25 years, Professor Ang Hak Seng, now finds himself serving as the Director of the Centre of Excellence for Social Good (CESG) at Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS). In a place that highlights social entrepreneurship within Singapore’s people and non-profit sectors, we talk to Prof Ang to gain insights on his latest role in a Centre that most may be unfamiliar with.

Prof Ang and his wife

You have taken on the appointment of Director for the new SUSS Centre for Social Good. We note that you have been involved in several people-oriented sectors in the course of your career and we must say it has been a very impressive one! What motivated you to take on this role?

Prof Ang: My entire career thus far has been shaped by what I call my coffeeshop story. When I was much younger, money was tight, and to help with the family expenses, I worked at a Kopitiam as a coffee boy. Since coffee shops are gathering points for the community, I overheard the daily conversations of the customers as I served them. Over time, I learned about what I call the “hotspots, sweet spots, and pain points” of Singaporeans. And once I understood the thoughts and concerns of the typical Singaporean, I realised that people require a lot of help and support. And that is the reason why throughout my 30-year career, I have worked for the People sector, it stems from the want to elevate the people so that they can achieve what they wish to achieve.

Could you share with our alumni more on what this Centre is all about e.g the objective of CESG and desired outcomes you hope to achieve?

Prof Ang: The Centre aims to develop Social Entrepreneurship capabilities within the People sector through lifelong learning. To achieve this, the Centre develops 3 types of training programmes—formal education such as academic accreditation, informal education like webinars and workshops, and applied learning such as community of practice. Secondly, the Centre aims to develop organisations by conducting applied research such as social impact studies with People sector organisations and providing consultancy to the People sector. Lastly, the Centre aims to enhance the social ecosystem by encouraging strategic collaborations between the university and the People sector through research and capability building. These strategic collaborations become a valuable source of feedback to SUSS’s curriculum, helping to prepare our students to tackle the challenges that the People sector face.

In your opinion, how do you think our alumni community can play an active role in doing Social Good in two aspects: (1) in partnership with the university and (2) in their personal lives?

Prof Ang: I strongly believe that the alumni community can play a very active role in doing Social Good. SUSS’s alumni are not your day-to-day fresh graduates. In fact, many of them are working adults from the relevant industries and are even respected heroes of the People sector. As such, with their wealth in knowledge and experience, a critical role the SUSS alumni can play is to become skill-based volunteers. Another way SUSS’s alumni can contribute to Social Good is via the development of shared services, where SUSS alumni can provide consultancy services to the People sector. Furthermore, with their working experiences in the People sector, the alumni would have gathered certain best practices which can be shared to other alumni via communities of practice, which is a committee where like-minded individuals share their experiences and work together to develop new best practices for the sector.

These newly developed best practices are also beneficial for the university as these case studies can be incorporated into the university’s curriculum, ensuring the relevancy of the current teaching materials. In their personal lives, I am sure that the alumni are already contributing to Social Good. After all, we are the leading university of social good, it is thus no wonder that the people who choose to attend this university will have the innate nature to enhance social good.

In your opinion, how do you think our alumni community can play an active role in doing Social Good in two aspects: (1) in partnership with the university and (2) in their personal lives?

Prof Ang: I strongly believe that the alumni community can play a very active role in doing Social Good. SUSS’s alumni are not your day-to-day fresh graduates. In fact, many of them are working adults from the relevant industries and are even respected heroes of the People sector. As such, with their wealth in knowledge and experience, a critical role the SUSS alumni can play is to become skill-based volunteers. Another way SUSS’s alumni can contribute to Social Good is via the development of shared services, where SUSS alumni can provide consultancy services to the People sector. Furthermore, with their working experiences in the People sector, the alumni would have gathered certain best practices which can be shared to other alumni via communities of practice, which is a committee where like-minded individuals share their experiences and work together to develop new best practices for the sector.

These newly developed best practices are also beneficial for the university as these case studies can be incorporated into the university’s curriculum, ensuring the relevancy of the current teaching materials. In their personal lives, I am sure that the alumni are already contributing to Social Good. After all, we are the leading university of social good, it is thus no wonder that the people who choose to attend this university will have the innate nature to enhance social good.

Do you see the potential of setting up an alumni community for social good in the near future?

Prof Ang: I fully agree that there is a potential in setting up an alumni community for social good in the near future. Our alumni are individuals with the heart to serve. How do I know this? Because they decided to join SUSS, the leading university for social good. The more important question to be asked is, what can this alumni community do? The community can partner with charities. In fact, some of the alumni can be deployed to the charities, be it as a skilled volunteer, a volunteer manager, or even, as part of the charities’ board.

Prof Ang with staff carrying out Community of Practice

Do you have any key messages for our alumni?

Prof Ang: “活到老,学到老”, is the key message I have for all alumni. It means never stopping learning or in other words, life-long learning. In the age of disruptions, Industrialisation 4.0 and Socialisation 4.0, it is critical for us to develop the habit of lifelong learning as new research and developments are happening every single day. To be better and to remain relevant, we will need to invest in ourselves by continuously upgrading our mental hard drives.

Prof Ang carrying out community volunteering activities

Besides your passion for doing good, can you share with us what are your other hobbies and pursuits and how you remain motivated and motivate others?

Prof Ang:

Outside of my day-to-day work here in SUSS, I am also an active volunteer with the grassroots, taking part in many community projects where we aim to care for the young, not so young, and those who are young at heart.

Any other comments and key pointers you wish to share?

Prof Ang: I believe in the power of the alumni because SUSS’s alumni embody the university’s vision of becoming the “Leading university for social good”. It was them who shaped the university into what we are today, and it is they who shall shape our future and so we must never forget the power of SUSS’s alumni.

Find out more about the newly established Centre of Excellence for Social Good
here!

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