Opening Remarks by Mr Eric Chua, Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth & Social and Family Development, at the Centre for Non-Profit Leadership’s Leadership Conversations 2021: Gen X & Y in Leadership
20 August 2021
Good morning. I am happy to join you here today at this Leadership Conversation.
I would like to begin with quote by Barack Obama, “Change will not come if we wait for some other people or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” And, to borrow from Maxwell, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way”. We need leaders at all levels and in every part of society. Each and every one of you are leaders in your own right, in the non-profit sector. The opportunity to transform our communities for the better and shape our collective future is in your hands.
Good leadership in the non-profit sector is more important than ever
The past one and a half years have been difficult for everyone, especially so for non-profits. Many of you have seen demand for your services increase, sometimes exponentially, and at the same time your revenues and resources have been squeezed by COVID safety measures.
a.You are most acutely aware of the many difficulties and challenges our people face on a daily basis, and it is tough when you cannot help everyone.
b.The leadership shown by those in the non-profit sector since COVID struck has been outstanding. You have rallied courageously to meet the extra demands placed on you and your organisations. In spite of the challenges, you have forged ahead, supported communities hard-hit by the pandemic. You have done what you did selflessly and in so doing, exemplified our Singapore spirit.
c.It has not been easy, and I thank and commend all of you for everything you are doing to help our society get through these uncertain times.
‘Uncertain’ is indeed the operative word these days. While our Government is doing its best to bring us out of this pandemic, all of us are still finding our way and adjusting ourselves to adapt to the changing conditions brought about by the virus and its different variants.
a.What we can say for certain is that we need good people, good leaders in every part of our society, who are able to make a difference beyond their immediate job scope.
Leadership should help others adapt to a changing world
As current and future leaders of our non-profit communities, we invite you to help chart the way forward in these uncertain times, and the key word here is adapt: adapt to changing environments, new regulations, and new ways of doing things. Adapt to scale up your operations, broaden your customer base, and provide different services.
a.Adapt because change will happen, and because no matter what the new normal looks like for non-profits, we know it won’t look like the old one.
What should not change are our principles. What you do affects people. It has the potential to change a life, a family’s circumstance. Now that is powerful, and it is a privilege. Continue to use it with integrity and compassion, and positively impact lives for the better.
Let me give one example of how we are striving for positive change. I strongly believe in the importance of mentoring our youths. I have been a mentor to many youths over the years including those from ITE, and I am glad to have played a small part in supporting their life journeys as they are full of incredible potential.
a.Earlier this year, MCCY and the National Youth Council set up the Mentoring Alliance for Action (AfA) to galvanise whole-of-society partnerships in strengthening the culture and ecosystem for youth mentoring.
b.Within MSF, we are initiating a mentoring pilot for youths who leave ITE prematurely. Targeted to launch at the end of this year, this programme aims to help about 100 youths expand their network of positive relationships and empower them to achieve their aspirations by broadening their exposure to opportunities, guiding them to explore their interests and career options, and facilitating internships and job placements. I’m personally excited and am very keen to see what we could grow from this pilot.
Working together to lead the way on new challenges
So you see, the work in this sector has such potential to uplift those around us, and we need good leaders who are passionate about the issues at hand, to be a guide in shifting circumstances.
a.Which is why I am glad that this conversation is being held with both Gen X and Gen Y leaders. Not Gen X alone nor Gen Y alone, but two generations of leaders in the same sector, sharing and exchanging vastly different leadership experiences and learning from each other.
There is another reason why this sharing of experience is important, which is that the challenges you will have to adapt to are unlikely to be solved by any one organisation alone. Your organisations will have to work together. Leadership in the new normal has to be collaborative.
CNPL’s Leadership Alumni network is a good example of how this could come about. Comprising graduates from three different leadership programmes, the network has a store of diverse leadership experiences and collective know-how.
a.Many of you here today are part of this network, and I urge you to make the most of the opportunity, working together to explore how we can tackle bigger problems and make a more lasting impact.
I would like to thank CNPL for organising this, and look forward to hearing from the panelists and from all of you. It is exciting to think about what the future holds for the non-profit sector under your collective leadership.