John is a super mentor at Enactus Singapore. He oversees two schools–Enactus Singapore Polytechnic (Enactus SP) and Enactus Ngee Ann Polytechnic (Enactus NP) — while juggling a full-time job at the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre.
John is powered by the faith in our students’ innate potential.
In secondary school, John benefited from his teachers’ guidance and advice.
“If not for my teachers who were mentors to me, things would have turned out very differently for me ,” he openly admits.
One particular teacher stood out in John’s life. A strict disciplinarian, he came after John, then a National Cadet Corps cadet in Secondary 3, for Absence Without Official Leave after skipping a training session. This required John to report to him twice a day in full uniform for punishment.
However, this particular teacher was also someone who provided John with vital encouragement and support when he needed it most. John recalls an NCC expedition to Pahang, which came at a time when John was disillusioned and in need of direction in life. While resting in cave in the jungle, this teacher pulled John aside and told him the tale of the caterpillar that metamorphosed into a butterfly.
No matter how tough life’s struggles were, it was all meant for a purpose — to strengthen the butterfly, so that when time comes for it to break out of its cocoon it could soar and thrive.
Later, John chose a teaching career, and subsequently youth development work. Though he had majored in Business Administration, he wanted to help others through their struggles. Seeing how businesses can deliver social good, John saw Enactus as the perfect platform for him to grow towards his dream, while at the same time enabling the dreams of others.
He recalls the challenges he faced when he began mentoring the Enactus Club in SP in January this year. Due to various reasons, it was proposed for Enactus SP to merge with other clubs in the school. Given a chance by the school to prove the value proposition of Enactus, a time frame of six months was set for the club to increase students’ enrolment and project quantity.
The first thing that John had to do was to develop the core team and work with them to build up the club from scratch. With numerous activities around the campus to choose from, convincing students of the value of Enactus was not easy. It was a challenge to make Enactus stand out such that students would make a commitment to it. At the same, he had to get the understanding, buy-in, and trust of the Faculty Advisor, who was more well-versed with the history of the club and could provide the necessary school support.
John brought stability to this new team by repeating a common vision and purpose to Enactus SP over and over and over again. He also made it a point to meet the EXCO and mentors regularly so as to cement a close working relationship with them. Involving the Faculty Advisor in all the daily communications established trust and understanding. Gradually, with more mentors coming on board, the situation stabilised and SP began to grow again.
He acknowledges that his work is far from over. Eventually, Enactus mentors should work ourselves out of existence. He envisions that in the not too distant future, Enactus teams in the polytechnics will be able to curate a broad profile of high-level start-up projects across different industries, and that their business nous, appreciation of social issues, and project management capabilities will make Enactus students stand out from their peers. In the meantime though, just seeing his students develop and pilot their own projects is sufficient to given John immense personal satisfaction.
He is helping others as how his teachers helped him all those years ago.