The Network of AIM Alumni Singapore or NAIMAS was officially launched in a virtual ceremony last October 30, 2020. Attended by no less than Chairman of the AIM Board of Trustees and Governors Peter Garrucho and AIM President and Dean Dr. Jikyeong Kang, the notable event saw the culmination of the alumni group’s hard work and vision to gather together the alumni community in Singapore.
In his opening remarks, NAIMAS President Vivek Goyal, MBM 86, thanked all the attendees, especially the committee heads, who put in a lot of time and hard work to establish the network. He highlighted NAIMAS’ four-fold objectives: 1) to strengthen the image of AIM among the business community in Singapore; 2) to organize thought-leadership events; 3) to provide opportunities for alumni to remain connected, and 4) to encourage life-long learning, intellectual enrichment, professional growth, and social interaction among AIM alumni in Singapore. He also noted the diversity and inclusivity of the group, particularly in the way the committees were set up and the committee heads elected. Most noteworthy is how diversity and inclusivity are built into NAIMAS’ constitution, to assure equal representation and opportunities for all regardless of ethnicity, gender or religion. His expressed wish is for future leaders of NAIMAS to continue upholding this tradition of diversity and inclusivity.
As a call to action, Vivek encouraged all Singapore-based alumni to register on the group’s website and participate in the committees, activities, and to network among fellow alumni.
NAIMAS Chairman Dr. Clive Lim, MBM 86, recounted how NAIMAS germinated from an idea that several alumni had when they got together more than a year ago and decided they wanted to meet more frequently and spend time together. These casual meetings led to the holding of more substantive seminars at their various offices. Eventually, a decision to formally register the group with Singapore’s Registry of Societies was made. He gave the highest tribute to the commitment and teamwork of the group that made the establishment and official launch of NAIMAS possible.
For his part, Renny Yeo, MM 81 and NAIMAS Vice Chairman, reiterated his debt of gratitude to AIM for his very successful career as a captain of industry. His training as an engineer provided him little knowledge about business management but his enrollment in the MM program at AIM changed all that and gave him the necessary skills to become a recognized and successful business leader. He noted the historic significance of NAIMAS being the first large gathering of AIM alumni in Singapore and commended the group’s passion and commitment to the cause of AIM and the alumni community.
AIM President and Dean Dr. Jikyeong Kang congratulated the leadership team and all members of NAIMAS for getting the organization off the ground. She particularly took note of the group’s objectives and how they resonate with her own idea of an AIM alumni association. She cited Vivek’s message of diversity and inclusiveness and pointed out how diversity can add and elevate the level of discussion for a better outcome.
Jikyeong updated the group on AIM’s newest school, the Aboitiz School of Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship (ASITE). She recalled the skepticism when she first broached the idea of introducing a Data Science program to AIM. In three years’ time, ASITE is the recipient of the largest cash donation in the history of the Philippines’ higher education to the tune of US$10 million.
Turning her focus on the alumni association, she enumerated the roles that NAIMAS members can play: 1) to be the best that one can be as achievements reflect back to the Institute; 2) to help classmates or alumni in general because the value of networking and helping one another is priceless; 3) to help current students by way of mentoring and guidance, especially during this time of pandemic, and 4) to help AIM by referring students to the programs, by participating in various school activities, and by donating even small amounts. She thanked Renny and Clive for their donation of S$10,000 each and hoped this will encourage other members to do likewise.
AIM Chairman Peter Garrucho took the attendees down memory lane as he recounted AIM’s founding and its Harvard connection through a group of Harvard professors and the adoption of the case method of teaching. This teaching formula proved to be very successful for AIM and produced an impressive group of alumni from all over the region.
Looking at the current landscape, he notes the undeniable change happening in business education where there is more emphasis on the quantitative, societal, complexity and technology. AIM has kept pace and it now has added a menu of programs in data science, innovation, entrepreneurship, and development with a variety of teaching methods.
He also enumerated several improvements he wished for the Institute, from more modern physical facilities, such as Zoom rooms, to more research for faculty.
In closing, he congratulated all the members for putting together a network of like-minded individuals who want to lead the charge in decision-making, entrepreneurship and innovation in Singapore and Asia.
A special message was also given by Dr. Ahmad Magad, MDP 83. He recounted how the MDP course served as a catalyst for his interest in business management education, leading to further studies for an MBA and a DBA. He gave special mention to AIM’s world-class faculty who instilled in him the adage “If there’s a will, there’s a way.” This served him in good stead as he led a US$10 million MNC to become a US$1.3 billion corporation before his retirement. In parting, he challenged the members to help realize NAIMAS’ objectives to bring meaningful benefits to the AIM alumni community and to the wider Singapore community.
Vivek led the toast to formally introduce NAIMAS to the AIM community. As part of the proceedings, the committee heads took turns introducing each other. NAIMAS VP and Head of Website and Membership Shiva Susarla, MBM 09, unveiled the group’s website and encouraged everyone to register and to track others who are not yet part of the group. NAIMAS’ website can be found at www.naimas.sg.
A Q&A with Dr. Jikyeong Kang was a highlight of the program. Vivek took the lead in moderating this segment and raised what Jikyeong called million-dollar questions on topics such as AIM’s distinction in today’s very competitive educational environment, offering a doctorate program, and alumni’s participation in elevating AIM’s brand not only in Singapore but in all of Asia. Jikyeong provided very comprehensive and forward-looking answers to all the questions for the enlightenment of all the attendees. She made specific mention of AIM’s agility and quick decision-making process as a strength of the Institute. A great example of this is the Master of Science in Data Science (MSDS) program, which was introduced in record time and just as quickly shot up to the No. 3 ranking among all data science programs in the Far East. A significant distinction of the MSDS program is the make-up of its curriculum which is infused with MBA courses. This gives our MSDS students the unique advantage of having a business management perspective to complement their technical skills. Conversely, our MBA students also get courses on data science, enhancing further their skillsets to include an understanding of big data and AI. The cross-pollination of courses has trickled down to all the programs and is certainly another innovation for the Institute.
In closing, NAIMAS SVP and Secretary Sridhar Ramaswamy thanked everyone present, especially Chairman Peter Garrucho and President and Dean Jikyeong Kang. He likened the launch as the start of the journey for NAIMAS and enjoined all members to actively participate and volunteer to achieve all the objectives of the group.
A group photo of members with AIM memorabilia put a fitting finish to the memorable event. Special mention to NAIMAS VP for Outreach and Events Saurabh Anand, VPs for AIM and FAIM Relations Japnit Singh and Ivy Narayan, VP for Human Resources Aditi Asthana, and all the committees for all the hard work in putting together a wonderful program worthy of the significance of the event.
All AIM alumni who are residents of Singapore are encouraged to join NAIMAS to connect with fellow alumni for professional and social networking opportunities. Simply register on the website at www.naimas.sg.
Congratulations to NAIMAS and here’s wishing you great success!
words Bernardino J. Jiao