Left: Ng Joong Hwee on a leisure trip
to Europe. He is a recipient of the
OCBC Regional Undergraduate
Scholarship 2019, and is currently
studying International Political
Economy at Peking University.
Right: Nazryl Bin Khairil Idham Lim is currently pursuing Computer Engineering at the National University of Singapore.
The general impression about scholarships is that one needs a perfect academic record to qualify. It is certainly not the case with OCBC, which welcomes candidates from all walks of life: Ng Joong Hwee is an alumnus of Hwa Chong Institution while Nazryl bin Khairil Idham Lim hails from Nanyang Polytechnic.
Joong Hwee’s interest in banking and finance stems from his belief that the sector is crucial in facilitating economic growth and consequently, helping families and businesses alike to achieve their goals. It led him to take up the OCBC Regional Scholarship.
One of the key factors that attracted Joong Hwee to OCBC is the organisation’s focus on breaking boundaries. Indeed, OCBC embraces disruption, demonstrated by its forward-looking branding and its focus on Artificial Intelligence (AI) by being the first bank in Singapore to launch its own AI laboratory. Likewise, the OCBC Regional Scholarship is one of the bank’s initiatives towards helping talents get regional exposure in the hope of broadening their mindsets and horizons.
“The OCBC Regional Scholarship encourages scholars to study outside of their home country and I found it appealing that OCBC had such a global outlook,” he remarks. Joong Hwee adds that interested parties are more than welcome to apply for the scholarship at any point of their university study. “With only one year of bond for each year of study, it is definitely one of the more competitive options. More importantly, the OCBC Regional Scholarship is open to most disciplines and it means that you are free to pursue your own interests,” beams Joong Hwee, who is currently in Peking University, Beijing, studying International Political Economy.
Significant events such as advances in air travel and the advent of the Internet have led to globalisation. Forward-thinking businesses such as OCBC has harnessed globalisation positively, resulting in new opportunities and frontiers.
“Being the second-largest economy in the world, studying in China would provide me with in-market knowledge and (the chance to) experience life in a fastgrowing society with its ubiquitous mobile payments systems and other technological innovations,” he explains. “Living in the capital city of China would also allow me to experience the heritage it has to offer as well as to feel the pulse of China.”
Part of the attraction was that OCBC plans to expand its reach in China. Joong Hwee hopes to be able to tap on his knowledge of different markets to complement OCBC’s global outlook and its focus on expanding into regional markets.
People as Priority
OCBC’s focus on people was another plus point, and he noted that the Graduate Talent Programme was well-planned while staff from Talent Management constantly kept in touch with him. “I am sure that all of you budding scholars would be in good hands while studying overseas or when you’re back at OCBC,” he adds.
Joong Hwee also advised interested candidates to be clear about their goals and aspirations as it is important to be true to themselves and remain composed during the interviews. “Don’t think of your interviewers as people waiting to swallow you but think of it from their perspective; they are just trying to get to know you better,” he concludes.
Scholarship with a Difference
The OCBC Local Scholarship is not a scholarship that operates as most people know. It is an outlet for OCBC to give back to the community. Nazryl did not fare so well for his GCE ‘O’ Levels but made up for it by excelling at Nanyang Polytechnic, achieving a Grade Point Average of 4.0. Outstanding as it may be, often, most may feel like it was not enough.
However, Nazryl would soon find out that his luck would change. “I remember I enjoyed my time interning for OCBC as a Mobile Application Developer during my time in Polytechnic. It struck me to look for a scholarship at OCBC. I found out that OCBC was the only company that was offering a bond-free scholarship. Though I had been rejected by four different companies for scholarships, I took a chance anyway and submitted my application,” he recounts.
That turned out to be a pivotal moment. The rejection from previous interviews hanging over his head, he did not think much about his chances despite his willingness to give it a go. Then, it happened; he received a call from OCBC. “I felt as though I had won the lottery,” he says. For some reason, he felt extremely relaxed unlike previous interviews, and thirty minutes of chitchat passed by quickly. A month later, he received the good news: he had been chosen for the scholarship to study at the National University of Singapore.
“OCBC Bank allowed me to continue my studies despite the fact that there were setbacks that were obstructing my goals,” he says. Now that he is able to concentrate on academia fully, he makes hay while the sun shines, attending seminars and exploring as much as he can. “I knew with this scholarship I would be able to expand my skills to be an outstanding programmer and help people to make their ideas come to life. Without this scholarship, I wouldn’t be where I am right now.”
Paying it Forward
Without a bond, the sky’s the limit for Nazryl when he graduates at the age of 27. He credits his mother for her support: “She had been the one to tell me not to give up despite the circumstances; to look at how far we have come, that now is not the time to push things aside. She also taught me that no one can help you but yourself. After all the unfortunate events that occurred in my life, she is the pillar that supported me.”
And true to his roots, Nazryl keeps himself productive, doing video shoots as a side job for income and keeping his mind fresh away from schoolwork. He also pays it forward with his time by dedicating it to help the community, contributing his video production skills to his mosque when they need his help.
“Growing is a part of us – we never stop growing. I may be learning to programme right now but I am also interested in growing professionally. I see myself being in one of the top management positions in a technology firm. With the opportunities that OCBC Bank has given me, I know there will be countless more waiting out there,” he beams.