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The greatest gift

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Dr Sandy Chong never thought she’d become a mentor. A jack of many trades, she studied marketing as an undergraduate student and then completed her PhD in information systems at Curtin. All while pursuing interests in music, photography and art.

In her current role as a consultant, Sandy applies her diverse skill-set to advising business clients on international expansion, e-commerce, and cross-cultural negotiation. The position takes her to countries across South East Asia and Europe.

However, the support of a number of teachers throughout her life inspired Sandy to give her own time as a mentor and educator.

“Every time there’s been a critical turning point in my life, there have always been good teachers around me,” she says.

“When I think of people who have given their time without expecting anything in return, the only right thing I could do is to pass it on.”

One teacher in particular – Sandy’s research supervisor, Mr Carl Jacob – was a major source of inspiration for her during her PhD. Sandy says she benefited enormously from Mr Jacob’s patience and generosity, and even today calls on the now-retired Curtin lecturer for advice.

“Mr Jacob is more than a teacher to me – he’s a great mentor, counsel and role model. He gave me the gift of time and demonstrated to me that giving opportunities and time to others is far more important than money or things.”

Recognising the impact of education on her career, Sandy dedicates much of her time to mentoring young people, conducting leadership workshops and leading non-profit organisations.

Sandy is also instrumental in supporting causes that empower young women. She has volunteered as an Executive Member on the United Nations Association of Australia, on the United Nations Women International Women’s Day Committee and has secured significant philanthropic support from her clients for major United Nations fundraising projects.

As a mentor, Sandy imparts to her students the knowledge she has acquired from teachers, peers and her own experiences of research and working in a broad range of fields.

“I tell my students and young women that while it’s important to be a specialist, it’s also important to have broad, inclusive views to help one understand how things are.

“It is absolutely okay to try something different and to not be deterred from exploring new avenues simply because you come from a particular background.”

Sandy won the Curtin Alumni Community Service Award in November for her work helping young people reach their career goals and improving fundraising for the organisations where she volunteers.

Most recently, the Singapore Business Advisors and Consultants Council named Sandy Singapore Management Consultant of the Year. The award honours top management consultants and consultancy projects for driving a high standard of professionalism in Singapore.

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