Chang Yin Man
The intrepid explorer
Meet Chang Yin Man, a Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) scholar who is all about pushing her limits
From the famous Mount Kinabalu to jungles filled with incredible biodiversity, the easternmost Malaysian state of Sabah is a secluded paradise that compels one to take life a notch slower and enjoy the beauty that nature affords.
It is no surprise that the people there are used to a more laid-back way of life. Having grown up there, Chang Yin Man knows this all too well.
“People in my hometown are very easy-going and don’t emphasise career and social status that much. For example, my friends and I seldom talk about our careers,” she says. Conversation topics always revolve around places to go, our social life and relationships. “I really like the laid-back culture in my hometown. I always travel back home whenever I need a break from my studies!”
A scholar from the Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) who is now pursuing an MSc in Economics and Management at the London School of Economics, Chang admits that she was never an outstanding student when she was younger, partly because of the slowpaced life back home.
“My grades were not always fantastic. Being within the comfort zone at home, I lacked a sense of direction and motivation. But after arriving at SIM (in 2012), I was eager to see how far I could go if I gave my best,” says the 23-year-old.
Since then, her academic performance has been nothing short of extraordinary. Chang graduated in 2014 with first class honours in the University of London BSc (Hons) in Economics and Finance. She aced 13 out of 14 papers in the process and even scored 96/100 for the Quantitative Finance paper to emerge International Cohort Top Scorer.
When asked about the secret to her success, Chang says it was all about sheer determination and perseverance. “It is not an easy course to ace as it involves a lot of thought processes other than revising course materials daily. I had to be very consistent and disciplined with my studies in order to achieve the results,” she says.
“I also have my parents to thank. They have always been kind, open and supportive, and they have never pressured me about what I should do in life. They gave me the freedom to take a gap year so that I could decide where and what I wanted to study.”
Not all work
What makes Chang’s achievements even more laudable is how she had managed to juggle her studies with a vibrant social life.
During her time at SIM, Chang was the vice-president of student engagement activities at the institute’s Scholars Network, and helped organise events like the CEO Dialogue and the SIM GE Student Life Showcase. She had also assumed the role of a strategic development executive at the SIM Investment and Networking Club, helping to secure leadership training sponsorships and organising the Youth Financial Symposium.
One of the most memorable events for Chang, a self-confessed travel addict, was the volunteer work she did in Ostrava in the Czech Republic as part of the AIESEC’s (Association Internationale des Étudiants en Sciences Économiques et Commerciales) Global Citizen program for university students. There, Chang worked with nine other students from as many countries to conduct six weeks of English lessons for 50 high school students.
“It was an eye-opening experience, being able to see all the different cultures but at the same time being able to accept one another. The friendships that I made there are really valuable, and we do still keep in touch till now,” she says.
Chang’s love for travel stems from her hunger to learn more about the world outside her comfort zone. She says it is also an excellent way to centre herself. “Moving across countries, you see people living different
kind of lives and having different definitions for life,” she says.
Chang is also quite the linguist, being fluent in English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Malay and Hakka. She is currently learning French.
“Language is really interesting as it allows me to understand a culture just by studying the details (of the language). For instance, I learned that the French do not use negative expressions much. They would usually say ‘it is not so nice’ instead of ‘it is awful’. Learning about these little details fascinates me,” she says.
Upon completion of her master’s, Chang is determined to continue testing her limits and has decided that she will find a job in Singapore or Hong Kong, not just because these cities are nearer to home, but because she believes these markets would prove more challenging.
“The Asian market is growing and I think that there will be steep learning opportunities in these countries which will be beneficial for young graduates like myself,” she says.
Teaching English and introducing her country Malaysia in a class in the Czech Republic
Recent travel destinations
Credits: Cohort © 2016 British Council (Singapore Pte Ltd) and SPH Magazines Pte Ltd - 22 Mar 2016