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Kelyn Asks Tough Questions On Business Success

2014 Birmingham Kelyn Tan Po Yin - Article Image 1
Kelyn receiving the Best Student Interviewer award from Charles Wong (managing director of Charles & Keith) at the Spirit of Enterprise award night on November 7, 2014. Looking on is Rachel Wong (right), managing director of Marunda Utama Engineering and SOE vice-president
 

WHEN and why did you decide to become an entrepreneur? How did your family show their support? How did you put together the resources needed to start your business? 

Asking business owners tough but necessary questions, and capturing their answers accurately and coherently won Kelyn Tan Po Yin the Best Student Interviewer award. 

Encourage a spirit of enterprise among students 

Kelyn herself also aspires to be an entrepreneur. Now studying at SIM-University of Birmingham’s BSc (Hons) Business Management with Communications programme, the 21-year-old is one of two winners of the Spirit of Enterprise-Charles & Keith Best Student Interviewer 2014 award. 

The Spirit of Enterprise or SOE is a privately-funded initiative founded in 2002 to encourage young people, especially students, to become entrepreneurs through knowledge-sharing and interaction. Each year SOE gives out awards to outstanding small and midsized businesses based on student interviews that captured their success stories. 

Kelyn, for instance, asked and wrote out detailed perceptive answers from Vincent Ha, CEO and co-founder of Gushcloud, an influencer marketing network that connects brands to social media celebrities with large followings. The transcript covers 12 pages of dense print. One question was on the reasons for choosing to do business in this particular industry. Vincent’s answer was revealing: 

“We learned that a lot of youth marketing success is driven by alpha males and females. Back then, we did not know what we had, but knew there was something there, as we were using them to get their friends as a way to engage people to come down for parties and events. When we started the Barnett group, we crystallised the idea that influencers are a core part of the digital marketing mix for brands. Barnett was a social media marketing agency. We help companies to grow their Facebook presence through influencers’ participation in their Facebook pages, getting them to blog on the brands.

“Before we knew it, we as young social media company are already winning big brands like Citibank, National Library Board and Nanyang Polytechnic,” Vincent added.

Besides Gushcloud, Kelyn researched two more companies for interviews and write-up. From the interview notes, she has to produce an in-depth article that brings out the best representation of each interviewee’s entrepreneurial journey.

“As part of the privilege of being the award winner, I was invited to serve on the SOE Board as an observer. It is a rare opportunity to learn from the key players of the industry and expand my network as well in the future,” says Kelyn.

Since 2003, more than 1,000 tertiary students have taken part in interviewing and documenting the stories of successful local entrepreneurs. After reviewing the interview transcripts submitted by the student interviewers, the SOE Secretariat selects the year’s entrepreneurs to be honoured. 

Disney recognition

Outgoing, resilient and resourceful, Kelyn also took up a six-month internship at Disney’s All Stars Resorts and Disney’s Colorado Springs Resort in Orlando, Florida. She did such an outstanding job during the internship that she was given 22 recognition notices from guests as well as the Disney management team.

The internship was part of her study at a local polytechnic where she completed the Diploma in Integrated Facilities Management course with Merit in 2013 and was placed on the director’s list for having graduated at the top 10 percent of the cohort.

After her diploma, she did a one-semester preparatory course in Business at SIM Global Education before enrolling directly as a second-year student with Birmingham. She is graduating in 2016.

Passion for communications

Her choice to include Communications in her Birmingham programme reflects her passion for working in the media, entertainment and social network industries. “Communication plays a big part in businesses both the internal and external aspects,” she says. “Thus I feel it would be a useful skill to hone so that I could leverage on this strength in whichever career I eventually work in.”

Another attraction is Birmingham’s teaching style. The course is held in SIM’s campus in Singapore but the lecturers are from the university in England. “This allows me to gain global exposure when they share their experiences and widen my horizon. It also teaches me how to adapt to their teaching styles and communicate with foreigners which are both skills that are very beneficial to have in the globalised business environment today.”

Young as she is, Kelyn has already crafted her mission in life. “My mission is to inspire young Singaporeans to seek opportunities in failures, and to help transform dispirited youth into opportunistic game changers.”

Taking a year off

Kelyn has also created the Gap Year Guide (gapyearguide.wordpress.com) for those who are taking a year off after polytechnic or junior college, and before enrolling in university. The online planner helps students and graduates too to find information on study programmes and personal development courses.

“My aim is to encourage youths to invest their gap year wisely by seeking out and seizing opportunities to explore new possibilities and dedicate themselves to active self-improvement. This helps them to stay relevant and even gives them a competitive edge when they resume their education or career journey,” says Kelyn, wise beyond her years.

Her own immediate goal is to gain experience in the communications industry, through internship and temping in a PR firm or creative agency, or in the corporate communication department of an organisation.

But always she returns to her favourite subject: minding your own business. “I love reading biographies of entrepreneurs,” she says. “The lives of successful entrepreneurs are full of adventure and passion. Their authentic life experiences inspire me to chase after my ambition.”

 2014 Birmingham Kelyn Tan Po Yin - Article Image 2
Kelyn wants to hone her communication skill at SIM-Birmingham’s study programme

 — Posted online, 2 December 2014