President’s Special Message – AAS The Way Forward 62nd Annual General Meeting 28th March 2017, Tuesday 6.30pm Australian High Commissioner’s Residence, 9 White House Park, Singapore 257605.
I am very pleased to remind you that we are fast approaching the AAS Annual General Meeting (AGM)! I welcome and look forward to seeing you all at this special event. This event is free to all our members, with plenty of food and drinks and great opportunities for networking.
As President of AAS, It will be my pleasure to present the Annual Report on the developments in our Australian university alumni fraternity in Singapore. This will be followed by the election of Committee Members for the next Management Committee (2017/2018).
We are indeed very grateful to H.E. Mr Bruce Gosper, Australian High Commissioner to Singapore, for generously hosting the AAS in his residence.
Please register early to avoid any disappointment, as we expect a strong turnout for this special occasion.
2014-2016 AAS Journey
Over the last 3 years, your Management Committee, of which I have the honour to lead, have implemented the following strategic initiatives to enhance the value of your AAS Membership:
Expanded AAS Membership – taking our membership from 616 to 2,800 registered members today, a 354% growth – with an additional contractual obligation to support 86,000 new Alumni. As we execute on this Alumni support his provides an even richer platform of diversity for AAS networking across the Universities and improved opportunities for mentoring, career development and professional support as we scale our services to more effectively support them.
Expanded Activities- with our Bimonthly networking events increasingly well received with more than 170 Alumni attending the most recent MSocial event. The AAS 61st Anniversary Annual Dinner and Dance welcomed more than 600 Alumni and esteemed dignitaries. The inaugural Homecoming Event at the High Commission attracted more than 600 Graduates and was supported by over 300 participants and spectators, including 32 Universities and 30 employers. The Inaugural AAS Basketball Carnival held at The Australian International School Singapore was attended by over 300 participants and spectators.
Established Partnerships with Australian Alumni Associations in Singapore to more effectively engage their Alumni, share knowledge and information and provide support. This was driven by our Ambassadors Melvin Gwee, Lee Ee Win and Grace Ong;
Established a Partner University Scheme - Led by Peter CL Tan.with selected universities, the PUS provides Member benefits including, free AAS membership for their alumni in Singapore. We are very grateful to James Cook University, RMIT University and Murdoch University who have come on board as our pioneer Partner Universities. These Australian universities are amongst the largest international universities in Singapore with a cohort of over 12,500 students based in Singapore, 6000 students graduating each year in Singapore and a Singapore alumni base of over 50,000, all of which are now entitled to fully subsidized membership of the AAS.
Strengthened our Stakeholder ties - with The Australian High Commission, The Australian Chamber of Commerce, The Australian and New Zealand Association and The Australian Universities;
Set up a Council of Advisors to enhance the profile of AAS and provide further support to our Management Committee - which include illustrious alumni Mr Mah Bow Tan and Dr Cheong Choong Kong.
Built a robust financial foundation - Sponsorship underwrites our financial foundations and subsidises the consistent delivery of our services and value to our members. Over $500,000 has been raised over the past 3 years to fund the operating costs and cover the deficits for our AAS activities – delivered with strong support from Irene Ho and Abhishek Bhati.
We are very grateful to our Platinum Term Sponsors: National Australia Bank and James Cook University, our Gold Sponsors: Westpac, Lend Lease and Flight Centre, Silver Sponsors Crown Group, Goshen Art Gallery, Hui & Kuah, Jetstar and Singapore Airlines and our Official Airline, Qantas.
The Way Forward
The AAS have come a long way in the last 3 years and as I am scheduled to retire this role at end March 2018, it is my wish to pass this baton to the next AAS Leader. It is therefore very important to underwrite a strong foundation to further enhance AAS as a National body for all Australian graduates in Singapore. That is why we have adopted the mantra: The Way Forward.
Our new 2017-2019 AAS Strategic Plan aligns with both the DFAT 2020 Australian Global Engagement Strategy and the Singapore –Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) and is currently out for stakeholder consultation with our Council of Advisors, Industry Partners and Sponsors and dedicated Patrons. Leesa Soulodre is leading this initiative as well as the addition of the Code of Conduct and updates to our Constitution to further enhance our Corporate Governance.
In partnership with Peter Tan’s brilliant Partner University Program, Leesa is also leading the Digital Transformation of the AAS. This is necessary in order to scale our infrastructure and services to ensure our inclusiveness and support to ALL of the 140,000 Australian Alumni in Singapore. Peter’s Partner University Program is laying the financial pathway for all Australian Alumni Chapters to have the ability to connect, engage and celebrate with their own Alumni, within the wider community of the AAS virtual AAS Digital Village. To accelerate the AAS’s ability to scale, all Australian Alumni will soon be able to join our exclusive AAS Digital Village with a Digital only Membership for an annual fee of only $1.50.
Look out for your exclusive invitations to connect to our newAAS website, read our new AASDigital Magazine and dive in and experience our new AASDigital Village as they roll out over the coming weeks.
By expanding our Partner University Scheme, we can be more inclusive through 100% subsidised Alumni participation at the AAS. Through digital transformation we can scale the infrastructure and support services to expand the ability for all of our Members to connect, engage and celebrate with their fellow Australian Alumni. Finally we will have adapted our services to meet our Members changing needs i.e. to connect with their Alumni, - 24 x 7 x 365, no matter where they are operating in the world.
Financially, we have been prudent and have built strong cash reserves for the future. In the interest of our members, we have kept the membership fee at a low $25 for many years. I have been sincerely grateful for UNSW President Joseph Kwok’s voluntary service, leadership and guidance on these topics, as we adapt our business model to deliver new revenue levers that will serve to underwrite the sustainability of the AAS and support to our Members in the years to come. However, we still need to raise more Sponsorship if we are to effectively scale the AAS infrastructure, subsidise our services and be inclusive, attracting and supporting ALL 140,000 Australian Alumni living in Singapore.
2017 and Beyond
In the upcoming Election at the AGM, 3 of the stalwarts in my Team, are retiring, Abhishek Bhati, Melvin Gwee and Lee Ee Win. They have conscientiously served AAS and without their dedicated support and team work, we would not have been able to fully achieve our goals! I wish to thank them sincerely for their commitment, and I do look forward to their continued support in other capacities.
As the closing date for nominations fast approaches on the 14th March 2017, I am looking forward to having 3 Candidates join our Management Committee. No doubt their credentials will be impeccable, and with their dedicated commitment to serve AAS, will certainly provide continuity in the vision to build a strong AAS. Management Committee Members that have strong professional statures, proven leadership capability by leading from the front, that are individuals not afraid to do the hard work, who have the ability to engage all key stakeholders at the highest level are essential to ensuring we execute on our Strategic Plan. We need strong consistent supporters of AAS, with the willingness and ability to adapt and strongly enhance our service delivery. In conclusion, it is now in your good hands, fellow AAS members, to attend our AGM on 28 March and vote for the right candidates, to ensure that the AAS of the future can be even better than that of the present.
Christopher Cheah President Australian Alumni Singapore 8 March 2017