Yiping Goh, Partner at Quest Ventures, reminded us that Singapore already had a high level of academic excellence – for example, other countries are often intimidated by Singapore’s Mathematical rankings, O and A level scores, or, when Singaporean students take classes in Western universities! Yet, this constant strive for academic excellence might just be Singaporean’s own stumbling block – do we dare to take risks, make mistakes and startup, or will we be held back by our own fear of failure?
Yiping added that, after all, going to school was not just about getting educated. It was also a lot about being in a tightly knitted community and network. In institutions such as Stanford, Harvard, INSEAD, Tsinghua, one gets more than just classes, but also an affiliation to its strong alumni network that often accords trust to its members.
These institutions also churn out many incredibly successful alumni that tended to give back to their schools too. She shared about the US-effect or China-effect, where a few extremely high-achieving entrepreneurs would not just do well themselves, but be effective in inspiring those within their own alma mater and country. To that end, she suggested the need to push Singaporeans to go overseas to broaden their networks, and for local universities to build a culture of a tight knitted alumni community that seeks to help each other and to give back.