5 Things I Learnt from MPP Alumni

27 Nov 2018

The current MPP students had the pleasure of meeting the MPP 2010 cohort during their 10-year reunion at the LKY School. Angga Airlangga, Bharath Jairaj, Eti Bhasker, Hai Pham, John Mannion, Dr. Katherine Ann Villegas Reyes, Dr. Olivia Gippner, Trissa Manalastas-Menardo, and Zak Yuson from the alumni batch joined us from all over the world, for a discussion about lessons learnt and memories shared during their time at the School. Here are the five learnings I took away from the gathering.


  1. Have a “fuzzy” direction

    It was clear from the stories of the alumni’s journeys that while they may have started off in some direction right after graduation, their careers today stood quite different from where they started. John emphasized that this may be a good thing. He spoke about the importance of certainly having a focus in one’s career, but to not make it laser sharp either.

    Dr. Katherine, for instance, spoke about the fuzzy direction life had taken her on. She did her paediatrics residency several years ago, after which decided to shift to health policy. She worked with research institutions, international organisations and did some consulting work. Now after nearly 10 years, she is an Adjunct Professor for Health Policy and Administration at the University of Philippines, where she is able to impart her well-rounded knowledge of health policy and healthcare systems.

    From their conversations, it was clear that nearly all of them had changed streams along their career path – dabbling in government, private, and non-profit sectors, and were able to transfer skills between their jobs to gain a well-rounded perspective of their field.

  2. Develop a baseline skill

    From a similar perspective, Zak, who currently works at Teach For All, underlined the importance of developing a specific skillset that we can be known for, which could be a great asset in the workplace as well.

  3. Just say “yes”!

    All alumni highlighted the value of networking, being open to new experiences, and aiming for overall development, beyond our résumés. They spoke about the various doors that opened up to them because they had said “yes” to certain opportunities is life, which led to their dream jobs a few years later.

  4. Keep networking

    Alumni impressed on the point that it was critical to constantly and actively network with people to open new opportunities and get a better understanding of the world around us. These conversations help us grow and further define who we are and what we want to be.

  5. Leave a legacy

    Sometimes it is not just about the learning though! Bharath told us about the changes the 2010 cohort made during their time that all of us enjoy today. This was the batch that asked for the NUS shuttle bus to stop at College Green before going to the Bukit Timah Campus, thus saving us many afternoon walks in the sweltering heat. This was also the batch that started the LKY School-Law Faculty football league, which was active for several years.

    As someone ten years their junior, it felt almost as if I was looking into the future. I saw glimpses of my classmates in each of them. By watching their camaraderie, it was evident that the LKY community remains tightly knit well after graduation!

    I could not help but wonder if ten years from now, we too, would return to relive the great memories shared during our LKY School years, and hope, that we too would get the chance to pay it forward and provide all the help and advice to the batches that come after us.