Yale-NUS alumni pursue exciting and unexpected career pathways

19 March 2021

By Meryl Yu Chi Ying

*All photos were taken before the implementation of COVID-19 safe management measures.

Flexibility and critical thinking are requisite skills to respond to today’s evolving workplace demands. An educational paradigm, focusing on static boundaries demarcating the various disciplines, may no longer suffice.

At Yale-NUS College, an interdisciplinary curriculum and borderless learning culture have endowed our alumni with an expansive mode of thinking, which translates into transferable skills that cut across multitudinous work contexts. Ms Melody Madhavan, Mr Adrian Stymne (both from Class of 2017), Ms Isabel Perucho (Class of 2018), and Ms Clara Che Wei Peh (Class of 2019) are amongst some of our alumni who have chosen to pursue exciting and varied career pathways which differ from their majors in College.

Ms Melody Madhavan majored in History and now works as a Brand Manager in Japan. Image provided by Ms Madhavan.

A History major, Ms Madhavan is now working in Japan as a Brand Manager for Remy Cointreau, a French luxury spirits company. In her job, she oversees brand strategisation and implementation across a myriad of channels. Although history and marketing are fields which seem to be worlds apart, Ms Madhavan thought that both nevertheless shared a common thread of narrative-building.

“I studied History because I love the discipline and I think some of these skills, such as data analysis, narrative building and an eye for detail, have been helpful in my current role, but I think the storytelling aspect is something I have always enjoyed in both History and Marketing,” Ms Madhavan said.

“Marketing is all about building meaning — letting clients understand why the product or service you are providing is important to them, whether practically, emotionally, or otherwise. Hence, marketing nicely hit an interest that originally sparked from my love of history,” she reflected.

Despite a tumultuous year, Ms Madhavan’s perseverance helped augment her company’s online sales. She credited her Yale-NUS Summer Study Abroad programme at Sophia University and her Summer Language Scholarship session at Nanzan University for enriching her language faculties and appreciation for Japanese culture.

Similarly, she fondly recollected how the College’s interdisciplinary learning approach exposed her to diverse ways of thinking.

“The interdisciplinary culture made me realise that rather than the nitty gritty content you memorise for each class, it was actually the skills of adaptability, critical thinking, changing lenses and a constant curiosity to learn that are the most important things you need when you leave college. These skills have helped me to think on my feet and connect to people regardless of their backgrounds and cultures, enabling me to access numerous opportunities which I otherwise would not have been able to in Japan,” she shared.

Mr Adrian Stymne majored in Psychology and now works in the United Kingdom civil service. Image provided by Mr Stymne.

 Another alumnus, who has been pursuing a career overseas, is Mr Adrian Stymne. Mr Stymne majored in Psychology but chose to work in the United Kingdom’s civil service as a management trainee under the Fast Stream programme instead. In his job, he designs process maps and works to ensure that vulnerable Europeans are not hard hit by Brexit. Mr Stymne attributed the intellectual rigour of the Common Curriculum – a set of courses which all Yale-NUS students study in their first two years that introduces them to foundational concepts and modes of inquiry across the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences – for making him a better thinker.

“The Common Curriculum profoundly shaped my thinking on society and democracy, leading me down my current path. As a civil servant, I constantly have to make sure I think logically, write clearly, and act ethically. The Philosophy courses, offered by the College, made me a better thinker, and the Quantitative Reasoning module made me a better analyst, while the Literature courses made me a better writer,” he remarked.

Ms Clara Che Wei Peh was an Economics major and now works in the arts industry in Singapore. Image provided by Ms Peh.

On local shores, Ms Clara Che Wei Peh, who majored in Economics, is pursuing a career in the arts as part of the Residencies team at the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore (NTU CCA), where she helps to facilitate the Artists-in-Residence programme. In her role, she supports artists’ critical research and ongoing artistic practice, which involves supporting them in staging public programmes and workshops such as the recent Residencies OPEN during Singapore Art Week 2021. On top of her day job, Ms Peh is also a part-time lecturer at LASALLE College of the Arts where she supports the teaching of the Cultural and Contextual Studies course, and is a contributing writer for local arts publications.

Ms Peh is grateful for the College’s liberal arts education and unique class dynamics that equipped her for a fluid transition from Economics to a career specialisation in the arts.

“The liberal arts education at Yale-NUS allowed me to develop a greater sense of comfort in being in unfamiliar situations and to adapt and absorb new knowledge quickly. The small-sized discussion-based classes also helped me to develop the skills needed to communicate my ideas effectively, while allowing myself to always be open to feedback and opportunities to improve,” she reflected.

Ms Isabel Perucho majored in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) and is now a Senior Marketing Executive in the Singaporean Fashion Industry. Image provided by Ms Perucho.

Like the rest, Ms Isabel Perucho, a major in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE), took on an unexpected road after graduation by entering the fashion education space. As a Senior Marketing Executive at the Textile and Fashion Industry Training Centre (TaF.tc), Ms Perucho spearheads campaigns to raise awareness of professional training and career opportunities in the fashion industry. Most recently, she organised the TENCEL™ Art of Shoes Design Competition, a nationwide competition to discover rising sneaker design talents.

When asked how her Yale-NUS experience has enabled her to excel in her workplace, Ms Perucho credited the intellectual atmosphere at the College for equipping her with the skills to adapt cognitively.

“The varied courses in social sciences and arts at the College helped me to develop the ability to think across different areas of expertise and communicate these connections clearly. Having cultivated this mental flexibility, I am better informed in my everyday decisions as a creative communicator helping to grow the local fashion ecosystem,” she shared.