A total of 15 exceptional alumni were lauded at the biennial NUS Alumni Awards 2017 on 23 November at Ridge View Residential College, which recognises former NUS students who have excelled in their chosen fields and made a difference to their alma mater, society and the world.
Taking home top honours was Mr Wong Ngit Liong (Engineering, ’65), Chairman and CEO of Venture Corporation, who received the Eminent Alumni Award from NUS Pro-Chancellor Mr Po’ad Mattar for his exemplary service to NUS, his achievements in industry and his spirit of public service.
Mr Wong served as the immediate past Chairman of the NUS Board of Trustees, a position he held for 12 years from 2004. Under his steadfast leadership and bold vision, NUS was transformed from a respected local teaching institution dedicated to manpower development, into a leading global university highly regarded for its scholarship and research. During his tenure, Mr Wong was also credited with steering the University through corporatisation, a complex process that required substantial restructuring of administrative, financial and corporate functions, as well as the establishment of a robust governance framework, new corporate culture and strengthened capabilities, among others.
Mr Wong has also served on the boards of several key public agencies throughout his career, including the Economic Development Board, DBS Bank and the Singapore Exchange. He also sat on several high-profile committees such as the Committee to Review the Salaries of the President, Prime Minister and political appointment holders, and the Constitutional Commission to review the Elected Presidency.
On receiving the award Mr Wong said, “It was a privilege to answer the call to serve NUS and Singapore at the time when the Singapore government was making the bold and wise move to corporatise NUS and operate as an Autonomous University.
“Looking back, the last 12 to 13 years of my life at NUS have been uniquely precious, richly blessed and wonderfully memorable. There are so many wondrous moments that made my life and time here at NUS so joyous, so satisfying that it has changed my perspective — from wondering why am I spending time at NUS, to discovering new meaning, new inspiration and the joy of making a difference to the lives of many students. And to be honoured by this Award conferred on some of Singapore’s most outstanding leaders is truly humbling and exciting.”
The Distinguished Alumni Service Award went to five outstanding individuals in recognition of their excellent and sustained service to the University. Recipients included veteran banker and industry leader Mr Peter Seah (Business, ’68), Chairman of DBS Group Holdings, DBS Bank and Singapore Airlines; Ms Chew Gek Khim (Law, ’84), Executive Chairman of The Straits Trading Company Limited and well-known philanthropist; as well as Ms Lim Hai Yen (Arts and Social Sciences, '92), Playwright and Artistic Director of local theatre company The ETCeteras.
In addition, a total of nine individuals aged 40 and below were honoured at the event with the Outstanding Young Alumni Award for accomplishments in their respective fields.
Among them was trio Mr Quek Siu Rui (Business, ’12), Mr Lucas Ngoo (Engineering, ’13) and Mr Marcus Tan (Business, ’11), co-founders of e-commerce platform Carousell and the first ever team to clinch the award. The NUS Overseas Colleges programme alumni started Carousell in 2012 after being inspired by their stint in Silicon Valley. They each brought complementary skills and knowledge to the table, with Mr Quek charting the overall strategy and direction, Mr Tan overseeing design and operations, and Mr Ngoo focusing on building the engineering team.
Within three years of its inception, Carousell had received $56.2 million (US$41.8 million) in funding. It is currently one of the world’s largest and fastest growing marketplaces, as well as the top lifestyle and shopping application in Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.
NUS President Professor Tan Chorh Chuan congratulated all award winners, saying they were powerful beacons for the NUS community. “Our Alumni Award recipients have demonstrated exceptional qualities — the boldness to blaze new trails; the deep commitment to excel by acting decisively and being unafraid to reshape and reinvent; and the unrelenting pursuit of differentiation, distinctiveness and truly consequential impact,” he said.
See full list of NUS Alumni Awards 2017 recipients.