Tuesday, 19 August 2014


Desmond Ng, the 16th President of the Computing Club, is usually found at every school event with his team, promoting Computing Club activities and welcoming the uninitiated into the fold. His initial gruffness belies his helpful, genuine, and friendly nature, so don’t be afraid to approach him – he’s just a bit shy! 

What are you studying at SoC?
I am a Year 4 undergraduate, studying Electronic Commerce. 

Besides academic work, what else do you do at SoC? 
I am currently the President of the NUS Students’ Computing Club and my role is to manage to ensure the smooth operations of the activities initiated and executed by directors from the 16th Management Committee. Beyond that, I represent the voice of SoC undergraduates at the Union Level and engage discussions with Deanery on matters that affect the general NUS population, such as the ‘grade-less first semester for NUS’.
Within Computing Club, I am alike all other committee members who participate in activities and offer help whenever the call arises. I believe that a versatile hierarchy allows me to understand the concerns and challenges that are encountered by my members and ensure proper governance is in-place to abide to the rules and regulations. Just like the saying that there must be someone in the family, either the dad or mum, to be the “black-face”, and therefore, some of my members might feel that I am like a “black-face” that limits the actions of my members. As I embark on this journey as a President, I truly empathize how my predecessor, Yong Jie, felt back then when he was President of the 15th Management Committee. At times, I felt the sense of “loneliness” because the decision call is on me but I am very grateful that my committee members are supportive of my decisions. 
As a NUSSU representative, I would need to be the voice of my fellow computing undergraduates. In addition, I would also need to be the voice of my fellow NUS undergraduates and, at times, where the two positions have opposing viewpoints, I would need to “split” myself, to ensure the opinion and vote casted is aligned my personal cost-benefit trade-off. During focus group discussions with the school administration, I would bring up existing concerns that an undergraduate would have encountered so that such concerns would be taken into consideration by the school.

Describe your SoC experience.
Although I am currently doing my sixth semester in NUS, it feels as though my fourth semester. Not because of time flies, but because I “started” my university life in SoC only in my third Semester when I started joining the student life activities. In my first and second semesters, I was indifferent like many SoC undergraduates, studying at some corner of the school and the only activity that I attended then was welfare pack giveaway. Towards the end of the second semester, I saw a post on the list of student events and they were looking for a treasurer for the Game Development Competition (GDC) 2012. With my interest in accounting and finance, I applied for this position without much hesitation and I feel that this has been a turning point in my university experience and this marks the “start” of my university life.
After my initial role as treasurer for GDC, I was encouraged to run for the Director of Finance position in the 15th Management Committee. The process of interview is not unusual but campaigning and elections were relatively new to me. I still recall the days I went around pasting publicity materials around to garner votes. Giving my first election speech was a nervy moment where I had to pitch myself. After campaigning, it was the wait for the moment of truth to see if I will be elected the Director of Finance. Although I could foresee myself losing the election, I was thankful to everyone who stood by and supported me to continue as Deputy Director of Finance. The moment of truth was also the moment of realization of what elections really boil down to. It does not matter how capable you are, what matters is how popular you are. Back then, it was a tough call when I had to decide whether to accept the offer by my President, Yong Jie, as Deputy Director of Finance. So I questioned myself on the purpose of electing, which is to volunteer my services for my fellow SoC members, and that guided me to accept the offer. During the course of my term as Deputy Director of Finance, my passion for Computing Club grew to the point that I felt so devoted to Computing Club, and that was the moment I decided to continue to work hard and run for President of Computing Club, to allow me to serve at the next level. 
The turning point was a defining moment for me and it changed my university life. Thus, as a word of advice to my juniors, I urge them to spare some time for these leisure activities. Who knows if it might also be a turning point for them to realize more about what university life is all about too besides studies? SoC has been the great place that offered me countless leadership opportunities and they placed strong faith in their students in being the Voice of Computing and personally, the soft skills that the school had offered me are the greatest takeaway of my journey in SoC.

What is something most people would be surprised to learn about you?
I am a homegrown Singaporean and neither of my parents are Malaysian despite the fact that I sound pretty much like a Malaysian when I speak in Chinese.

What advice would you give a prospective SoC student?
If [you think] university life encompass of solely academics, I personally feel that it might have alter the definition of “life” adversely. For most, this might be the last part of their student journey before embarking onto the next phase of life into work environment and if [you are] ever asked what your university experience is, take a deep thought into what constitutes to it….
If the first and last [thing] that strikes your mind is the academics, it is never too late to change it and be different. Each year, SoC has over 400 students graduating from the various majors and I believe that most seek differentiation and would like to have a different university story to share. If our story revolves solely around academics, how different can [it] be compared to others? In university, there are tons of opportunities available throughout the journey and I believe that the first step that one takes to participate in student life activities would result [in a] recurring occurrence of it and this will eventually forge a greater overall experience to one’s university experience. 
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. No matter how hard we work academically, we need to give ourselves some time to enjoy the activities that enhances our university experience. 
Speaking to some prospective students during Open Day and Computing Insights, they shared their concerns about job prospects in the IT Industry as many organizations have outsourced IT services. My experience so far is that SoC does not prepare you to compete on solely on that level, which will be prone to outsourcing - SoC prepares our undergraduates to be in a managerial role and the focus on soft skills would be the key to enabling our undergraduates to assume managerial positions.

What did you want to be when you were younger? 
Since young, I had the ambition to be policeman but sadly, the ambition was shown the door as I have a medical condition that does not allow me to overexert myself. 

What are your future plans?
Few years back when I was in polytechnic, one of my lecturers told me that there are three things that one would do:
  • Things that you are good at;
  • Things that you have a passion for; and
  • Things that offers you the financial sustainability
I did a Diploma in Accountancy in Singapore Polytechnic because I feel comfortable with Accounting during my secondary school days and I feel that it is something I am good at it. However, during the course of study, my passion for IT grew and I went on to take a Certificate in Software Programming and Applications as an add-on to my core diploma. Failing to secure a position for Accountancy, I turned to my passion, which brings me to where I am today. I believe that everything in life happens for a reason and I never regretted the decision to [enter] SoC because it offers me tons of opportunity for me to learn and take up leadership appointments. Many asked if I would continue in this line after I graduate. It is definitely an interesting field that I would want myself to be in; however, the lack of technical expertise (i.e. programming) has led to the lack of confidence to pursue a career in the IT industry. The journey in SoC made me realized how much accounting had meant to me and that, I would continue to further my studies in the accounting line and hopefully be able to find a job that allows me to leverage on both my accounting and IT knowledge.

Quick-Fire. Favourite sport and team?
My favourite sport is soccer and my favourite team is Manchester United and that has never changed since the day I supported a football club.  

Tell us who we should we talk to next. Email tien@nus.edu.sg

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