Nurturing young leaders in public policy and social impact

What are some of the skillsets that young leaders of tomorrow need to possess? How should aspiring leaders marry the theory of public policy with industry experience to catalyse positive social change?

This is where NUS impacT comes in—impacT is a student-led organisation that focuses on exposing tertiary students to public policy and social impact, providing the experience, exposure and skills to students with the drive and passion to become future leaders in these arenas.

impacT hopes to establish through its programmes the importance of the synergistic roles required of the government, public, and private sectors in creating change for the better.

Like many other student groups, impacT’s founding team, which has its roots in Tembusu College, consists of passionate and energetic individuals eager to participate in the community and make a difference to the status quo.

Its mission: to nurture the next generation of leaders in public policy and social impact.

Becoming a catalyst for social good

With the hope for a better world as its cornerstone, impacT's key programmes, which take place during the University semester, are centred on skills-based sessions and dialogues helmed by distinguished industry leaders from diverse fields.

Since 2021, impacT has run bootcamps and workshop programmes, inviting professionals in the social impact and public policy sectors, such as the Minister-in-charge of Social Services Integration Mr Desmond Lee and Dr Joanne Yoong from Research for Impact, to share their perspectives.

It has also produced two seasons of its very own podcast, featuring advice on how to get a foothold in the public policy and social impact space. Guests include Dr Yoong, Dr Prakash Kannan (Chief Economist of the Government Investment Corporation), Ms Anita Fam (President of the National Council of Social Services) and Ms Farah Sanwari (Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy).

Besides enriching undergraduates' understanding of the diversity of ecosystem players, impacT hopes to equip its members with the skills and knowledge to make their mark in the evolving public policy and social impact space.

Semester 2 of AY21/22 has also seen impacT run its inaugural Public Leaders of Tomorrow (PLOT) course, a series of interactive workshops and forum sessions meant to equip students with concrete frameworks and applicable concepts.

Helmed by the Ministry of Communications and Information’s Deputy Secretary Aaron Maniam, PLOT’s first iteration focused on the concept of complexity in the public sector. Its two forum sessions on social policy and foreign policy included guests such as Mr Julius Lim from the Singapore Police Force, Mr Martin Tan from the The Majurity Trust, Mr Kevin Tan from Trisector Associates, foreign policy specialists Mr Ian Mak and Ms Philomena Aw, and Estonian Ambassador Mr Pritt Turk.

“In an increasingly complex and interconnected environment, leaders would need knowledge and experience of multiple sectors and domains,” said impacT Vice-President Evelyn Lee Ji Ying.

“Beyond practical experience, challenges that lie in wait may be abstract, and thus a grounding in theoretical understanding is important as well. Hence, we want to help develop our leaders of tomorrow, to help students like us make the greatest impact possible in the future,” she added. 

In the pipeline

To help every member fulfil his or her potential, impacT also offers a suite of special projects for all to try their hand at and hone technical skills. Whether it is a new skill, or the putting into practice of knowledge gained in an area of interest, all impacT projects are geared towards providing opportunities for growth and development.

Currently, impacT is in the process of setting up a student publication specialising in public policy and social impact topics, titled Lacuna.

If you are interested in being part of a community that is passionate about helping to create a better future, check out impacT on NUSync!

By Evelyn Lee Ji Ying, NUS Tembusu College, impacT Vice-President