Uncharted Journeys

A social media producer for Asia's largest MMA organisation, a teacher-turned-entrepreneur and a police superintendent. Three WKWSCI alumni – Louis Lukamto (CS'18), Joy Tan (CS'04) and Lam Yarn (CS'08), share about the unexpected journeys in their careers.

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The Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information has always been home to students from diverse backgrounds, with a multitude of different interests. While many gravitate towards jobs in the media industry, others choose to embark on roads less travelled.

Here are the stories of three alumni who have gone against the grain and defied expectations, as they lead successful careers in diverse fields.

 

A Fighter’s Resilience

With the prestigious Lee Kuan Yew Gold Medal under his belt, Louis Lukamto (CS’18) is a prime example of hard work paying off.

Awarded to Nanyang Technological University graduates who emerged top in their respective programmes, the Lee Kuan Yew Gold Medal was given out to 37 graduates last year – with Lukamto being one of them.

A fixture on the Dean’s List throughout his four years at WKWSCI, Lukamto, 26, also graduated with Honours (Highest Distinction).

Growing up, Lukamto was not the typical straight-A student. For his Primary School Leaving Examination, he scored 172, which placed him in the Normal Academic stream.

He recalled that this 'streaming' culture had negatively affected his self-confidence.

“The bumpiest thing about my journey was about gaining self-confidence. It was something I had to work towards building year by year,” he recalled.

He eventually built his way back up and excelled in Singapore Polytechnic, graduating with a Merit in Mass Communication.  

This motivation to excel in his studies came about after his uncle brought him to an advertising agency for the first time, back when he was 13. Lukamto instantly fell in love with the creative culture of the communications field, which helped him realise WKWSCI was where he wanted to be.

Since then, he has never looked back.

“My personal belief is to never feel like you’ve accomplished everything. [One should] always stay hungry, always feel stupid. Then, you’ll keep learning more.”

Louis Lukamto (CS'18), social media producer for ONE Championship

His time in school saw him crafting a health-communication campaign for the Maori community in New Zealand, and participating in Cannes Lions 2017, the largest annual advertising festival hosted in France.

Besides such experiences, his biggest takeaway from the school was a sense of perspective with regards to the vastness of the media industry. He said: "It allowed me to realise that as much as I was doing well academically, that was not everything. The industry was so much bigger than what we were studying.”

Currently, Lukamto is working as a social media producer for ONE Championship, Asia’s largest global sports media property.

His role centers around content creation and planning, covering current sports trends to reach out to their multinational audience.

With ONE Championship’s growing global expansion, Lukamto’s position has given him greater exposure, which he said introduced him to new challenges, including a “notorious workload”.

He said, “We’re trying to be more global, as we grow. So the challenge [for me] is, how do we create content that drives home to everyone, instead of only creating it for one specific audience?”

Despite achieving a great deal, he has not let success get to his head.

“My personal belief is to never feel like you’ve accomplished everything. [One should] always stay hungry, always feel stupid. Then, you’ll keep learning more.”

 

Beauty of Change

Changing professions is never easy, but starting up and maintaining your own business is even harder – something teacher-turned-entrepreneur Joy Tan (CS’04) can attest to.

After four years in the education field, the former General Paper teacher at Jurong Junior College was enticed to try her hand at something different.

Spurred by her desire for a creative outlet, coupled with her colleagues’ encouragement, the 36-year-old makeup enthusiast took a diploma course at a makeup academy in 2009, quitting her teaching job in the process.

As her makeup expertise developed and her portfolio of clients grew, she decided to start up The Style Atelier in 2015. Running her own business also opened the doors to working with bigger clients, such as Anna Sui and YA-MAN.

The boutique agency specialises in conducting training programmes for beauty, grooming and communication skills.

Labelling themselves as ‘style architects’, Tan and her co-founder Violet Chan “help [clients] communicate their most authentic selves”.

“We seek to give clients a journey of exploration and empowerment, realising that all of us have different tools. How ever you want to utilise them is up to you,” she explained.

And brands seem to be on board with that, judging from TSA’s success.

Currently, TSA represents over 10 beauty brands, which include Guerlain and Laneige. Engaged as an “outreach arm,” they often lead product demonstrations at brand events. They have also done grooming presentations for organisations like Deutsche Bank and MINDEF.

“Ultimately, the heart of the business is always about people, and that is how we contribute beauty to the world.”

Joy Tan (CS'04), co-founder of The Style Atelier

But success did not come easy, with Tan recounting some of the steps she took that resulted in TSA becoming what it is today. As a fledgling boutique agency, building a network of clientele was crucial for TSA to grow. But Tan did not let the daunting task of establishing connections from scratch hold her back.  

The beginnings of TSA saw Tan publicising their services via social media, utilising Google Ads to increase their search rankings. She also tried finding opportunities to get TSA published in local media.

It also helped that she had the WKWSCI community to tap upon – with many of them engaging her for business.

“It’s natural that the starting phases will be more protracted, but you need to bite the bullet,” she affirmed.

Embarking on this journey has helped Tan discover more about herself, in particular, how much she values staying true to herself.

And it is this belief that drives her desire to empower clients with the ability to discover their best selves, beyond just the external appearances.

“Ultimately, the heart of the business is always about people, and that is how we contribute beauty to the world.”

VIDEO: JANE STEPHANIE

 

Leading By Example

As a woman in a traditionally male-dominated working environment, Assistant Superintendent of Police Lam Yarn (CS’08), 33, has been breaking the mould.

Unlike most of her peers, she did not experience the uncertainty of figuring out a career path - a common struggle faced by most undergraduates. By her second year in WKWSCI, she already knew that she wanted to pursue a career with the Singapore Police Force (SPF).   

“Surprisingly, what really captured my interest [in school] was a criminology elective I had taken in Year 2. I found the theories about policing and research really fascinating,” said ASP Lam, who took a minor in Psychology.

During secondary school, her involvement in the National Police Cadet Corps presented opportunities for attachments to the SPF. With early exposure to police work, a career in law enforcement seemed like the natural choice.

And while WKWSCI did not offer specific courses in the field of police work, her time here had properly equipped her for life in the SPF.

“You have to be able to talk to the aunty in the rental flat. The next day, you may have a case coming in for some big boss at an MNC. Essentially, we serve every spectrum of the public.”

Lam Yarn (CS'08), Assistant Superintendent of Singapore Police Force

WKWSCI’s emphasis on group projects and presentations helped hone her speaking skills – a skill vital for police officers, as they have to effectively communicate with people from all walks of life.

“You have to be able to talk to the aunty in the rental flat. The next day, you may have a case coming in for some big boss at an MNC. Essentially, we serve every spectrum of the public,” she said.

As an ASP, her job scope entails overseeing contingency planning, which requires her to draft procedures for SPF’s responses to crises.

In her eight years at SPF, she has never seen a slow day at work. Her job has even brought her to Israel and London, where her team studied the countries' security plans and policies.

Ultimately, what she finds most fulfilling is her ability to mentor younger officers. This is an outlook she adopted from NPCC, which placed great emphasis on nurturing leadership abilities.

“In the leadership positions we hold, it is our responsibility to help them own their skills,” she stressed.

Her advice for those considering a path beyond the media industry? “You need to search for your calling – answer it and follow it. My job at SPF was a calling for me.”

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