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Industry Highlights: Alumni in Non-profit

12 March 2021
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Shawn Soh,
Master of Business Administration 2013

The Industry Highlights series feature fellow alumni on a journey of their careers in various industries, sectors, and stories behind the scene. Find out more about our growing domestic and international community of over 70,000 Alumni through unique stories and experiences.

Singapore alumnus Shawn Soh (MBA 2013) reprioritiSed following a health scare and is very happy with his subsequent career switch.

What did you study at Murdoch and what do you do now?

I graduated from Murdoch with an MBA back in 2012 and am currently the Head of Community Relations at Filos Community Service, a Singapore registered charity. My team works closely with community and volunteer partners through the brokering of volunteering opportunities and intervention that build resilience within the community and empower individuals. I also drive the marketing and communications functions in the organisation. I have been working in the non-profit sector for 8 years. Prior to this, I was working in the MICE industry for 5 years as an Accounts Service Manager. I am glad that the transition was a smooth one, as throughout my career the roles have been pretty similar, with similar skillsets, enabling me to manage my work holistically, drawing on my accumulated experience.

What do you think is Murdoch’s point of difference compared with other universities?

The course was helpful to my pursuit towards management goals. The flexibility of the course in terms of modules, electives and timeframe made it easy for me, as I took a part-time certification and required my learning to fit around my work schedule. At the same time, the reputation and positive reviews of the University and the education provider, Kaplan, made Murdoch an easy choice.

What drew you to working in the not-for-profit sector?

After a health scare during the final trimester of my MBA, I took a sabbatical and reflected on my life’s purpose and wanted to do something meaningful and purpose driven. Coincidentally, I was given an opportunity through a school friend to enter the non-profit sector. It initially felt like starting over, but I am glad I followed my passion and have never looked back since. My first experience with Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore was one of the key factors in me progressing within the not-for-profit sector. I experience empowerment through my work and through raising funds for the cause and working with a diverse group of stakeholders, all wanting to do good. It makes a difference to the lives of the beneficiaries!

What have been some of the big changes in your line of work given the COVID-19 threat?

Going digital! Since the Circuit Breaker measures were implemented back in April, physical activities can no longer take place. Social service agencies like ours have to innovate and adapt to the changes, and at the same time minimise disruptions to the beneficiaries we are serving. Virtual or remote volunteering was, and still is, a very sought after mode of volunteering and these remote ways of engaging the clients allows them to also embrace digitalisation and learn new skills at the same time. We have also seen a significant increase in demand from the public to volunteer with us. This shows that there is an organic interest from the public wanting to contribute to the community during the pandemic.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?

Lifelong learning is one of my main mottos in life. Keep learning and let your passion drive you to doing the right things and not doing things right. Your qualification is merely a living document that credits you for your competencies. Never let your qualification be the end of your learning.

Who inspires you?

The first prime minister of Singapore, Mr Lee Kuan Yew. He had a quote that I always live by: “I do not yet know of a man who became a leader as a result of having undergone a leadership course.”
Nothing you learn from the textbook or course will determine who you are, you have got to start taking action and have the desire to put what you learn into practice, only then will you realise what makes you unique from others!

What did you study at Murdoch? What do you do now?

I studied my MBA with Murdoch back in 2012. I currently work at FILOS Community service as a Community Relations Manager. I was previously working in events, managing projects with Asia Pacific Breweries Singapore and Singapore Formulae One race. However, I am glad my current work requires similar skill sets and it enables me to manage my work holistically through accumulated experience. I work closely with various internal and external stakeholders, for volunteer management, corporate social responsibility, and fundraising.

What do you think is Murdoch’s point of difference compared with other universities?

The course was helpful to my pursue of management goals. The flexibility of the course in terms of modules, electives, and timeframe made it easy for me, as I took a part-time certification and needed my learning to fit into my work schedule. At the same time, the reputation and positive reviews of the university make Murdoch an outstanding choice.

What drew you to working in the Non-profit sector? Any particular intriguing experience you would like to share?

After a health scare during my last trimester doing my part-time MBA, I reflected on my work lifestyle and with a given opportunity through a coursemate at school, decided to enter the sector of non-profit. Back then, it was a start over again but I am glad I followed my passion and have never looked back since. My experience with the National Cancer Center Singapore was one of the key factors of me progressing within the non-profit sector. I experience empowerment through my work, that it makes a difference to the beneficiaries, and raising funds for cancer research gave me hope that we are contributing to a cancer-free tomorrow!

What have been some of the big changes in your line of work given the COVID-19 threat?

There are many pros and cons to the changes. I feel it gave a push to our society in enabling the elderly with digitalization capabilities. We faced multiple challenges in terms of working with our beneficiaries and volunteer management, as much of our works involves personal interaction. However, with the help of the government with digital ambassadors, we manage to accelerate some of the processes. At the same time, despite losing support from some corporation, we have also had some new corporates coming on board with us in terms of volunteer work and donations.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?

Lifelong learning is one of my main motto to life. However, never let your study be the end goal, always go with your passion. Do the right things and not do things right.

Who inspires you?

The first prime minister of Singapore, Mr Lee Kuan Yew is a great leader that inspires me with his tenacity, perseverance, and leadership skills. He has a quote “I do not yet know of a man who became a leader as a result of having undergone a leadership course.” Leadership comes to you when you garner respect.

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