A first year part-time NUS MBA student, Kelvin also holds a bachelor’s in chemistry from NUS. He’s been working in the energy industry for nearly 10 years, currently as a sales manager at Oiltanking Asia Pacific.
At NUS, Kelvin has launched his own cleantech startup as part of the NUS Graduate Research Innovation Program. He was the winner of the inaugural CleanTech Challenge 2020, Singapore Chapter, and represented NUS in the finals of CleanTech Finals Challenge 2020 in the UK (held virtually).
1. Describe your personal brand.
I believe humility together with determination are two important attributes that one must have in order to succeed. I developed these attributes early on in my life, when I worked multiple jobs since the age of 13 to provide for my family, whilst trying to complete my basic education.
I’m also an avid runner, having competed in marathons and ultramarathons.
2. Why did you pick NUS?
I did my undergraduate Chemistry degree at the NUS Faculty of Science. Other than the rigorous academic learning, I had many good memories of my time in the hostel (King Edward VII hall), going for a student exchange program in Canada and leading the NUS Cross Country team.
When I decided to pursue my part-time MBA, it was quite natural for me to choose NUS. More importantly, NUS Business School has a good global reputation with an emphasis on experiential learning and businesses in Asia, as well as having a wide diversity of nationalities and a vast alumni network.
3. Tell me something about The NUS MBA that others might not know.
People may perceive that The NUS MBA is very competitive and with a cut-throat environment. There is certainly a healthy level of competition as NUS MBA students are expected to challenge themselves and their peers in order to bring out the best in each other. The common phrase we use is “High Challenge, High Support”.
However, The NUS MBA definitely does not have a cut-throat environment. In fact, it provides a safe environment where our beliefs are challenged without judgement, and in the process, we learn, improve and grow.
4. Who is your personal hero?
My father-in-law. He started his career almost penniless, but worked his way up and is now a respected leader in his industry. Despite that, he remains very humble and gives back substantially to society.
He was also the person who guided me back to complete my polytechnic education, when I was about to quit in order to work and repay my family’s mounting debts and medical bills. If it weren’t for him, I would not have the education and opportunity to be where I am today.
5. What are your next steps?
In my current role in Oiltanking, I hope to gain more experience in assets and operations before taking on a more strategic, general management role. I would like to help the company embark on a journey towards a more sustainable business, without neglecting stakeholders’ priorities.
Through the guidance of the NUS Graduate Research Innovation Programme (GRIP), I’m also taking small steps in fulfilling my entrepreneurship dream. Earlier this year, my co-founder and I started a cleantech company specialising in treating oily wastewater before it contaminates drinking water and potentially destroying the marine ecosystem. We are now striving to create our first commercial membrane product for a pilot project with an engineering firm that specialises in treating commercial wastewater.
6. What advice would you give to other MBA aspirants?
You can’t choose your starting point but you can definitely decide your journey and ending point. Taking myself for example, throughout my life, people have often told me that I would never do well in my studies or I would never be able to run competitively. Rather than feeling beaten up, I turned these negative comments into sources of motivation.
Lastly, don’t procrastinate! If you have a goal to achieve, start working on it today and stay focused even when the going gets tough.