1 June 2014, Singapore
Earlier this year, the band joined me at CES to see Fleetwood Mac in Vegas — and a year ago, I entered this building to embark on an educational journey with familiar institutions NUS and UCLA, and destinations along the way — Shanghai in November, India in February — and this summer, the conclusion of the academic adventure in Los Angeles.
Today, as I prepare to depart Singapore, I am a bit wiser, more optimistic and ready for the dawning of a ‘new age’… MDN”
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August 23, 2014, Los Angeles, California
“Congratulations! Look forward to what more you will do for the program,” Dean Judy Olian said as I accepted my second degree from UCLA, an MBA from the Anderson School of Management, after having received a bachelor’s degree from UCLA in 1994.
Like twenty summers ago, my parents and brother returned to the campus to witness the ceremony, thankfully. A year prior, my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and had a major surgery known as a Whipple procedure in January and was still undergoing chemotherapy treatments.
“Life sometimes gives you a second chance,” he said, both in self reflection and as a proud parent. For him, each new day is hampered by uncertainty… though filled with a stronger awareness of the present.
The hope and irony of the moment struck me. Two decades of promise had passed with much ebb and flow, peaks and valleys, marked by cross-cultural studies as a Fulbright fellow at the National University of Singapore (NUS), to a global trade career in Washington D.C. and Geneva, followed by a return to L.A. to pursue creative expression and entrepreneurship.
Then, coincidentally, back full circle at UCLA and NUS again, where I had to start over and retrace my steps in order to find a path forward. Once again, I became a starving student strapped with huge loans… but more optimistic and humble than ever.
Notably, this year marked the tenth anniversary of the partnership between the two renowned business schools. What started as a sensible concept of facilitating business education between East and West, led to an established reputation and global rankings of #3 by The Economist and #4 by the Financial Times in 2014. Of course, we had to celebrate the program’s progress, and since I was known in the class as a professional “party planner” (as a result of all the Planet LA Records showcases), I became highly involved with the commemorative events.
Somehow, it made sense to align an MBA anniversary celebration with talented musical performers and corporate sponsors including from my new employer, and in historic settings in Southern California. It was gratifying to help create these memorable experiences, which sure required a lot of education and risky business ventures to master the art of party planning (lol).
At the graduation, my classmates chose me to present one of the teaching awards to Professor Prem Shamdasani, our most entertaining marketing professor who guided us on concepts about branding and customer loyalty, and with much humor and passion.
“Before I begin, I wanted to thank my classmates for the undemocratic election,” I said jokingly before presenting the award to Dr. Prem. This was due to my selection as the class president, which happened while I was away on an urgent business trip during our final intensive session in August.
Joking aside, it is an honor to represent the class on the UCLA Anderson alumni board and continue to build the academic brand, while helping to sustain the camaraderie of our group… and yes, probably more reunion parties to plan!
On a personal level, the past two years have been an amazing opportunity to gain more practical career skills, and to offer greater emotional value in every moment… given this precious, second chance at learning and life.
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