Q&A with Wah Chun: Leaping Through Time
Ng Wah Chun knows that time waits for no one. He spares no hesitation in the pursuit of ambitions. Today, he is a grassroots volunteer, entrepreneur, Associate Director at a fund management firm, and, not to mention a husband-to-be. In a time that’s difficult to move ahead, Tropika Club has a chat with Wah Chun to see how he presses on as he balances between his passions.
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*The interview below has been edited for clarity.
Q: What was your first memory of dance? And how did this passion evolve over time?
A: My first memory of dance was in a ‘free movement’ class in a dance studio at the old Funan Mall. I remember I was just tumbling around and personifying the term ‘free movement’ very literally.
After that class, my parents enrolled me in a ballet class and from then I started learning ballet and grew an interest in it. I was fortunate to learn under a nurturing teacher, Ms Lena Foo, who was pivotal in helping me build a strong foundation in ballet. Because of that, I was able to achieve distinctions for the RAD (Royal Academy of Dance) Ballet Examinations, from Grade 1 all the way to the Advanced level.
With my firm foundations in ballet, I thought of exploring another genre of dance. So I took up Chinese Dance as I studied in River Valley High School and National Junior College, learning from Mr Benedict Soh and Mr Wang Da. I began competing nationally at the Singapore Youth Festival around then as well.
I continued dancing as I entered university, joining the Contemporary Dance club at Singapore Management University. There I had the good fortune to be under the tutelage of Mr Dan Kwoh. And with his guidance, I had the opportunity to compete internationally with my dance friends and won 1st place in the 2013 Bolzano International Dance Competition in Italy, as well as the 1st Place and Championship Title in the 2014 Barcelona Dance Grand Prix in Spain.
Q: How did all that lead you to Jeté Studios?
A: Being trained in ballet helped solidify my foundation in exploring other genres such as Chinese Dance and Contemporary Dance. I felt that it would be beneficial for young ballet dancers to have similar cross-genre exposure as well. I put that idea across a few like-minded friends, and they felt the same way. That’s how Jeté Studios started, and that’s how we got to focus on providing a holistic, progressive dance curriculum to develop versatile dancers.
Q: You seem to have a deep passion in finance too, especially in wealth management solutions. What led you to this passion?
A: It was the sudden realization that my parents have been protecting me from our actual financial situation, and the desire to provide for my family. That led me to start this path in personal finance and wealth management. As I deepened my experience and knowledge in this area, I was able to improve my family’s financial situation. At the same time, I saw that this knowledge could help not just investors, but many others as well. This led me to find solutions to both educate and help improve the finances of those around me.
Q: You’re involved in grassroots activities too. Tell us more about what you do!
A: Having benefited significantly from the community, I felt that it was only right to pay it forward. With a strong interest in financial literacy, I saw the grassroots as a viable platform to propose and implement initiatives to improve the lives of the community where I live in, especially for the underprivileged.
Being a part of the Boon Lay CC Youth Executive Committee, I had the opportunity to launch Skills for Good, an initiative for the local community in response to the nationwide push for everyone to upskill and reskill to get ready for the new economy. Participants can learn new skills for a small fee, and the proceeds are channelled to charity organizations. In addition to Skills for Good, I’ve had the privilege to organize financial literacy talks and workshops for the community as well.
Q: What is the guiding philosophy in all that you do?
A: The Chinese saying “修身, 齐家, 治国 平天下”- First improve yourself, then your family, your country, and finally, the world.
Q: How do you cultivate and sustain the motivation to do all that in your life?
A: It’s an extension to the guiding philosophy. I would like to contribute my efforts, however small, to improve society and make an impact, from the concrete such as wealth and actual dance classes to the intangible such as community involvement through financial literacy and career development.
To do that, I have to continuously improve myself. I have to keep learning new ideas and be a better version of myself day after day. Providing for my family is a huge part of who I am. Though I’m definitely far from being able to make an impact, I care about how I can change the world around me for the better. In time, hopefully! So I’ll start small, doing my best to serve my immediate community.
Q: Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week. What’s your secret to time management that lets you do so much?
A: There’s no secret so to speak; when you find something that you enjoy doing, somehow, you’ll find time for it. I’m just fortunate that whatever I’m doing right now happens to be both enjoyable and rewarding at the same time.
Q: What’s one habit that everyone should learn to master time management?
A: Learn how to use your calendar and to-do list well; a really successful senior that I respect a lot taught me the importance of a to-do list back in SMU. It has helped me a lot in making sure tasks are done (I know, it’s embarrassing to admit that I learnt how to have a functional personal to-do list only once I entered university)
Q: How are you getting through all the challenges posed by the COVID-19 in everything you do?
A: Like most businesses, we have gone digital as well. On the Hedge Fund side, we have been relying on zoom calls since we cannot meet in person, we transited quickly to incorporate DocuSign in our onboarding process to replace paper-based forms too.
For my dance school, we were quite affected as we were forced to close for 3 months due to COVID-19, and we’re lucky to have some support from our parents who have been ensuring their children join in our online dance classes. We have since opened our studio with the Phase 2 reopening measures and adopted strict safe distancing measures such as mandatory temperature checks and reduced class sizes.
Q: What’s next in store for you?
A: My focus is still to reach out to investors keen on a strong diversification allocation to their investment portfolio, especially after the market upheaval between February and April this year that impacted many investors.
For my dance school, it is to launch our new dance curriculum Jete+, where we hope to offer our students the best of both worlds; the rigour of a Classical Ballet education and a creative environment to realise their fullest potential in the wider world of dance.
“From a personal improvement perspective, after completing my Masters in Computing last year, I’m trying to fill up gaps in my business foundation knowledge with an MBA course that I am currently on as my understanding of some of the business concepts is mostly gained on the job so far.
Q: Amidst all the bustle between your passions, your career, and volunteering, how are you taking care of yourself?
A: It’s getting increasingly difficult to do so, but I try to make sure I have enough sleep and rest! Apart from my weekly Bukit Timah Hill hike with my fiancée and my future in-laws, I have short online workout sessions with my fiancée every other day as well.
Q: What is one message you’d like to tell all the big dreamers like you out there?
That Chinese quote could be translated as: an individual who is meant to achieve much in life will have a corresponding amount of setbacks and frustrations.
It is only through persistence and determination that one trains their discipline to keep taking whatever life throws at them. Then, eventually, one can take on increasing responsibilities.
And, last but not least, we have to remember those who helped us along the way and pay it forward whenever we can.