Monday, 25 August 2014

August lately (part 2).

Let's start where we left off yesterday, shall we?

9 August (Saturday)

I had the privilege to participate in the Economics and Leadership Forum (ELF) organised by London School of Economics Malaysian Club (LSE MC).

I reached Taylor's Lakeside Campus about 8.30 in the morning, where ELF was held and under the guidance of a few kind volunteers, I headed to the registration counter.

I entered to Lecture Theatre 20 only to find approximately 200 strangers, the boys dressed in suits and ties, and the girls in formal dresses and skirts, matching the dress code of the event: business formal.

I was seated at the third row from the front. My red dress should make for easier spotting- I was at the far right wearing my glasses!

The LSESU Malaysia Club kick started the event with a simple introduction by the organising chairperson, Kaelan Ong and the co-organising chairperson, Ivan Wing.

The keynote speaker was Mr Hanley Chew, Chief Executive Officer at Destination Resorts & Hotels, also author of Hotel Tales & More Hotel Tales.

I enjoyed listening to his speech. Direct, down to earth and realistic. I could connect to what he was delivering, and appreciated the effort he put into interacting with his audience. We also laughed heaps in between because Mr. Hanley Chew was not one to be shy of jokes!

The next to come on stage was the technology panel.

From left: Mr Derrik Khoo, CEO of Asiatic Centre for Genome Technology (ACGT) Sdn. Bhd; emcee Ian Tan, Mr Johan Khoo, Accenture Partner: Malaysian Strategy Practice Lead, and an alumni of LSE who's currently working for Maxis (sorry I can't remember his name because his profile couldn't be found in the programme booklet).

The session was definitely an engaging one. It also enforced what my mum has always told me, "No knowledge gained will ever go to waste." Sure, you may not be taking History anymore in the future as you continue to pursue your tertiary education- but it is something that you may come across in life- and knowing even just a little about the subject may help you in ways you cannot imagine.

Mr. Derrik Khoo talked about the investment of Genting in the development of gene technology to cure Alzheimer. Biological and genetic terms such as genome, coding of DNA, RNA, gene sequencing, base pair, chromosomes didn't appear foreign to me as I've taken up Biology in SPM as well as in A levels.

I suppose the next time I start thinking- how is this even applicable in real life (?!!) when I'm obliged to learn something, I'll be recollecting this scene. Open-mouthed smile

Banking and financials panel, led by Miss Tan Ai Chin Head of Global Investment Banking and Corporate Development, OCBC Bank (Malaysia) Berhad and Mr Nizar Najib, Executive Director of Deloitte: Financial Advisory, with Kaelan in the middle facilitating the session.

I value how the speakers took the time to think, share their experiences and answer the questions proposed by the students.

From the left: The last Panel- Energy and Resources consisted of: Deepak Thakur, Petroleum Economist, Hibiscus Petroleum Sdn. Bhd.; Wong Sue Zann, facilitator of the session; Janson Chen, CEO of Dorinku Beverage and the last speaker (my apologies because his profile was not included in the programme booklet).

I gotta admit- I wasn't paying much attention to this session primarily because:

  1. I couldn't understand the accents (Lord help me when I'm in university)
  2. Case Study Competition was getting closer and I started concentrating on it instead 

The closing keynote by Mr Jason Lo, CEO of Tune Talk successfully made the audience roar with laughter, however my mind was focusing onto the final preparation on the Case Study Competition before the 1st section of the event ends.

Finally the clock struck 1 and it was lunch time! My stomach was grumbling by then and I was ready for food! 

Before lunch, I barely knew anyone and felt miserably lonely. I felt like a fish out of water. But I remember that while some may come with their close friends, others may have felt the same as I did- and it takes someone to make the first move. Thus I walked towards the venue where we had lunch, and started approaching a few girls who looked like they wouldn't bite (haha, I kid I kid- it was purely random).

I didn't manage to take pictures with them but I quickly discovered that they were a year younger than I am, studying A levels in Sunway College. Such dainty the two girls were. What a pity I forgot to get their contacts. Neverthless, it was nice meeting them.

Catered food was served. I was expecting lots of spicy food, but much to my delight, I spotted some food that with my bare eyes, gauged wouldn't send my tongue on fire.

Clockwise from top centre:

  1. Stewed mutton. My absolute favourite- it was the melt-in-your-mouth kind of tender, soft, silky meat- the sauce elevated the taste at the same time cleverely disguised the stench of mutton, while not overpowering the main dish. Thumbs up!
  2. Pickled cucumber and pineapple salad tossed with sweet and sour vinaigrette. I tasted a distinct spice in it so I figured chilli was involved!
  3. Long beans that were drenched in oil and too crunchy for my teeth (how old are you, Jun?!! Smile with tongue out).
  4. Fluffy, tomato-flavoured infused rice that was delicious and didn't feel ridiculously setting in my colon.

All in all, I enjoyed the meal and even more the company. Open-mouthed smile

I continued making new friends! Everyone seated at the table with me was pleasingly amiable- making me warm up to them with ease.

One of them being the girl below, whose name is Hui Min. She went to St. Andrews, an institution in Singapore during Secondary 3- brilliant student who's bound to pursue Math in Oxford University this coming September.

2nd section kicked started with the Case Study Competition!

I accompanied a (new) friend of mine to the washroom hence was slightly late to reach the agreed gathering spot but thanks to a helpful volunteer, I managed to find the room I was led to.

Yi Jing called out to me and I stunned for 1/10th of a second. Too pretty, I couldn't recognise. Haha, not that she wasn't good-looking previously- I suppose it's because she curled her hair and I was genuinely shocked to see a familiar face! Glad to catch up with her for even a short while. When assigned to our groups, I was secretly hoping to be arranged in the same group as Yi  Jing was, however life has other plans for us!

Yi Jing in the red checkered shirt. Adorable!

I am unable to recall the name of the great man below, but I remember well that he works for Ernts &Young, he was also one of the three panel judges for our Case Study Competition under the section Economic Development.

He briefed us on a bit of his background, and what he was aiming to see in that Case Study Competition- a solid presentation backed up by facts, and he capped it off by declaring, "Have fun!"

The three judges in the front row. 

I was initially allocated to Group 5- a group of 6 girls, including me. Not surprisingly, I started pouring all my ideas out the minute I sit down because I've always been super enthusiastic when it comes to group work precisely when it concerns my favourite subject in A levels- Economics! Smile

One of the girls in Group 5, Eva!

Later, a female facilitator came over to our table and asked if anyone would volunteer to go over to Group 6, as there were merely 3 participants in the group. I looked around and the girls didn't seem interested- at least, that was what I thought because they had their heads bowed down- so I volunteered to switch teams!

Boy, was it great! Don't get me wrong, the previous group consisted of a couple of lovely ladies but having studied in a class of all girls (and only 1 boy) for 1.5 years- I was looking forward for a more balance ratio of boys and girls in a team. The freshly formed Group 6 was represented by Francis, Marvin, Christine and myself. Smile

We were slightly left behind due to the changes we made, however we quickly made up for it. A swift introduction to my members and we were off to a good start. We narrowed down our choices to Health Care as well as Poverty and Income Inequality, because these two were the ones that I've done a worthy and decent amount of research before attending the event. 

There was approximately 45 minutes for preparation time for presentation and I believe each and every group made full use of it.

I was feeling totally excited and thrill, as I voiced out my outlooks, suggestions and points of views. At the same time, I was indubitably thankful to have such wonderful teammates who were extremely open to everyone's interpretation, vantage points, and perspectives on the topic we finalised on-  Unemployment and Income Inequality- to which we had to choose two prevailing solutions and methods we reckoned most effective both in the short and long term, as well as brainstorm for new ideas to improve the current models in use.

That was my teammates and I at the far left! I was looking over at Francis's notes I deem! Open-mouthed smile

We got so carried away with expressing our two cents worth that we didn't put our thoughts into words! Marvin reminded us about it and we hurriedly transferred our ideas into the mahjong paper.

There was no mistaking the adrenaline rush pumping through my body as I wrote the equations and words I once loved dearly in my college life (and still do presently!).

Check out what my team and I had written! My Gobi, Miss Grace, look! I mentioned about regressive and progressive taxes! Open-mouthed smile Open-mouthed smile Open-mouthed smile

AD = C + I + G + (X-M) appeared on the paper, followed by the monetary and fiscal policies, and finished it with my favourite supply-side policy. 

Marvin, whom we all thought looked calm suddenly turned at us and said, "I'm nervous." Christine was repeatedly reciting it to herself. Francis was nervous but handled it well too. Being the eldest among them, I figured to take charge and in my steadiest and most comforting tone of voice assured them, "We'll do great. Don't worry."

This section covered a total of 7 groups- the largest number of groups among all sections, if not mistaken. The judges randomly draw lots to decide which team presents first, and so forth.

There would be a Q & A session after each  presentation by the participants from each group, and I'd listen attentively to what the judges ask. That way is an unfaltering way to get to know better what the judges yearned to see from the students, and what simply do not catch their attentions that much.

A time keeper would also keep track of the time and the presentation would be cut off without delay. 

Upon our turn, we were more than ready to go to the front, as we were the last group being picked. Marvin did a brief introduction and we started off with Christine presenting on the tax system. I followed with the explanation on the models and theories used to reduce unemployment rate as well how to narrow the gap between the high incomes and low incomes. Francis trailed by elaborating on education. Marvin concluded the presentation.

Public speaking is my utmost passion and every ounce of my being was ablaze. I  loved every second of the presentation and gave my best. My teammates were supportive and cooperative, making our presentation a smooth one.

I mentioned about cyclical unemployment, frictional unemployment and demand deficient unemployment when I talked about the retraining programs and schemes offered by the government to help labour develop new skills and quit becoming redundant in their jobs, to which the head judge commented, "Wow, I feel like I'm sitting through an Economic class all over again, listening to you teach me all types of unemployment!"

That sent everyone (including the other two judges and the judge who said it himself!) in the room laughing, which instantly calmed my nerves and lifted my mood so much more than the presentation already did.

We ended before the time limit and proceeded straight to the Q & A session. During the Q & A session, The judge in the middle, asked us to explain and clarify further on Research and Development (R & D) that I've also talked about under the Supply side policy.

There and then, in my mind popped up the lessons that I've learnt in Biology class on Bio Technology- and I explicated on the incorporating of Vitamin A in rice when growing paddy, which not only elevates the overall health of the citizen, it also provides more job opportunities, thus increasing employment rate.

The judges seemed pleased with the answer that I delivered, and I was over the moon.

We had the highest number of groups in our section Economic Development (if not mistaken) compared to the rest of the sections hence we concluded the session pretty late. The facilitators concluded the Case Study Competition by declaring that the results would be announced later during the Closing Ceremony.

My teammates and I went back to pick up our belongings before making our way to Lecture Theatre 20. Marvin asked if I was a debator, and I shyly nodded, and added that I'm not such a proficient one though! Christine was juiced up and aroused, grabbing my arm and squealing, "Ahhh!!! That was good! You were so good!" To which I replied briskly, "We did this together. This was all team effort. You guys did amazing, seriously!"

Of course we couldn't leave without exchanging phone numbers!

From the left: Francis, yours truly, Christine, Marvin

I love my team!!! Smile

At the theatre, all the groups from respective sections gathered. The crowd was so lively and frolicsome and fired up- I absolutely loved the atmosphere.

While waiting for the emcee to take over the stage, how could we pass up the chance to take pictures together?

Francis terrifically high!

Smart and talented Francis Calalang! (Her name is so catchy, yes? Winking smile) If you're reading this, I sincerely wish you get to achieve your dreams in Japan! But wherever you go, I know surely you're gonna do amazing.

Very rarely do you get to see me make faces because my mum is quite against it. Once in a while, okay, mum? Smile with tongue out

The emcee went on stage, and as I vividly hear him say, "The winner of Economic Development in Case Study Competition goes to...."- I held my breath- "Group 6!"


Much to our enourmous felicity, we went on stage to receive our certificates. I relished in the moment and felt extremely proud to stand next to my teammates.

Christine being the ultra blurry and cute girl was rather lost and apparently walked down the stage before we got handed a small prize  (Starbucks gift card weeee Rolling on the floor laughing). I took it for her on her behalf and then passed it to her. Hahaha...

We made sure to take a couple more pictures before we bid each other goodbye.

I had such a remarkable time throughout the Case Study Competition much thanks to this lovely, sweet girl by my side. We laughed and chatted lots. She's one of those people whom I take one look at and know instantaneously that we would be fast friends!

Didn't manage to get a picture with Marvin after the forum ended because he was fairly occupied during the alumni networking session. But I definitely hope to keep in touch with him and even better, work with him in the the future!

Christine had to leave with her friend. We hugged each other goodbye multiple times. Hugs are the best. Smile

Along with Hui Min and Francis, I walked to near the entrance and sat down because we all agreed that our feet were aching from the high heels and after so much of standing/ walking that day!

I saw how gorgeous the scenery looked and got Hui Min to help me capture a picture with pretty Francis.

My mum arrived and I hopped into the car and eagerly shared the piece of good news with her. Smile I was full of pep and seeing that smile on my mum's face lifted my delectation to greater heights. 

Also, it was decisively pure bliss to take off that pair of comely yet oh-so-painful high heels (officially my favourite pair by far!). 

In a nutshell, I'm thankful for the opportunity to participate in the ELF organised by LSE MC. A forum which I've taken away fond memories and valuable experiences from. A truly humbling moment it was to be crowned winner under Economic Development in the Case Study Competition. 

Thank you to the judges. What a great learning opportunity this was. Couldn't have done it without my awesome group members, well done! 

Thumbs up to the wonderful organising committee and volunteers of LSE MC. Everyone was incredibly helpful and welcoming and genial, making my first taste of an economics and leadership forum such a splendid one. You guys did a brilliant job, keep it up! Wishing everyone all the best in your future endeavours. 

I look forward to participate in more events and forums like this in the future.

Special shout out to my beloved Dad, who took the time and effort to print the case study briefing file so that I can do my preparation beforehand. It took you an hour plus to print that thick stack of papers and you came home late for dinner because of that. I cherish the things you do for me, Dad. I love you, Dad. Red heart  
Thank you, mum, for fetching me back and forth and for celebrating my victories and more importantly, lending me your shoulder when I need one. 
Ken and Sean, thank you for just being who you are and you caring for me makes the happiest sister in the universe. I'm so lucky to call you my family. 

Note: Picture credits to Ryo and EY Careers- Malaysia for most of the pictures in this post.