Booth continues to strengthen its presence and its connections throughout Asia.
Volunteering Their Expertise
A fast-growing mentorship program created by Chicago Booth alumni in Singapore is connecting successful Boothies in Asia with students entering the business world.
- By November 30, 2020
With the debut of a new mentorship program, members of Chicago Booth’s Singapore Alumni Club are volunteering their time and expertise to help young business students just starting out in their careers. Already, the program has been so successful that organizers expect it to double in size when they kick off the next cohort in December 2020.
The mentorship program pairs undergraduate and master’s degree students from the National University of Singapore’s Business School with Booth alumni in Singapore for a six-month period, during which the students participate in five group sessions that explore everything from deciding on a career path to handling a job interview. Panel discussions cover specialized topics such as entrepreneurship and digital/neo banking.
Every student also receives direct mentoring from a Booth graduate on a monthly or bimonthly basis. Students choose whom they wish to be mentored on the basis of their career aspirations.
“Having someone to talk to who is an outside voice—who isn’t a fellow student or professor but is experienced and successful out in the business world—can make a big difference.”
The program was spearheaded by Patrick Boyd, ’19 (AXP-18), who currently works as a director for SC Ventures, a global division of Standard Chartered Bank in Singapore.
“If you’re a business student and you’re getting ready to graduate, you’re reflecting on what you should do with your life, what path you should take, and how to get started on that path,” he said. “Having someone to talk to who is an outside voice—who isn’t a fellow student or professor but is experienced and successful out in the business world—can make a big difference.”
The mentorship program kicked off this past April and involved 16 mentors, out of the Singapore’s more than 700 alumni, working with 60 students via a combination of remote videoconferencing and later in-person meet-ups.
The program has been well received with the next cohort—set to kick off in December 2020—which will grow to include over 90 students and 30 mentors. The alumni club is also working to expand the program to other universities in Singapore.
Boyd modeled the program partially on a mentorship program he participated in through the London School of Economics and Political Science, where he is also an alumnus. “The London program was the spark, but we really built our program from scratch,” he said.
Boyd began by creating an executive committee consisting of Singapore Alumni Club members, initially with Ludovic Humbert, ’14 (AXP-13), and later Adrian Chua, ’18 (AXP-17); Marijohn Sampson, ’09 (AXP-8); and Paul Singh Gill, ’09 (AXP-8). Throughout 2019 and into 2020, the group designed and refined the curriculum, set ground rules, and recruited mentors.
The goal was to assemble a diverse group of mentors representing as many areas as possible. “We have mentors from over eight countries who have expertise in everything from entrepreneurship and manufacturing to banking, finance and private equity,” Boyd said. “We didn’t want the students to have a cookie-cutter experience. We wanted to make sure that the mentors had room to play to their own strengths.”
The program is open to all students, but there is a selection process based on motivation, commitment, and availability. The final decision is made in coordination with the National University of Singapore’s business student club, BizAd.
In order to judge the effectiveness of the curriculum, Boyd said the program’s executive committee conducted two surveys of the students—one at the midway point and one at the end of the six-month program—and both indicated not only that the students valued what they had learned, but that they planned to recommend the program to fellow classmates and peers.
Boyd personally mentored three students, and he said the sessions that seemed to resonate most powerfully with them were discussions of his own missteps.
“They were very interested in cautionary tales and finding out that even really successful people make mistakes,” he said. “There’s a lot of trial and error when you’re first starting out in the business world, and showing how you learned from your mistakes is a powerful lesson.”