Addressing The People Gap In Our Own Style At The Singapore Leaders of Tomorrow Forum 2016

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SLoT forum - An opportunity to ideate together Credit: Pixabay
SLoT forum – An opportunity to ideate together Credit: Pixabay

The chance to be a Leader of Tomorrow is an opportunity to address problems that you face in your career. It is the chance to voice out your pain points, opinions and even create your own solution. That in itself is a great opportunity to explore and discover more about yourself and your passion. 21 participants, including myself, had the privilege and honour of being selected as a ‘Leader of Tomorrow’ (LoT) at the SLoT Forum 2016 organized by Global Biotech Revolution.

After an initial screening process, we were put together in teams of four people completely new to us in order to identify and address gaps in our biotechnology industry. The problem our team wanted to address was the emerging people gap. I initially doubted how a team whose members I have not even met before could come up with a solution for a problem. But through the SLoT exercise (I call it an exercise because it stretched our minds beyond our everyday brainstorming sessions) I realized that when each member works towards the same goal, shares a common passion and has a desire to drive change, nothing is impossible for that team.

Defining the problem was the primary roadblock. There were so many things to be changed and so few we could actually pursue to achieve a realistic solution. After a series of meetings and valuable guidance from our SLoT mentor, Dr Lim Xinhong, we narrowed it down to enabling STEM field students and professionals to connect with mentors from different fields in order to make steady progress in their chosen careers.

The field of science and engineering has its own share of extroverts and introverts. While extroverts make connections naturally and build their professional network easily, introverts’ fear of taking the initiative makes it difficult to approach and connect with mentors in their preferred field of interest. Mentors on the other hand, still have a tough time identifying and acquiring the right talent and wish to avoid uncommitted mentees and redundancy in their mentoring process.

Leaders of Tomorrow at the Networking dinner post-event. Source : GBR
Leaders of Tomorrow at the Networking dinner post-event. Source : GBR

These being the pain points of the industry, our solution started to take shape in the form of EETOR, a smart, easy to use, mobile application for connecting mentors and mentees by preference-based matching algorithms. With a solution in mind, we surveyed the local STEM market and started working on the app prototype. Being trained as scientists, working out the solution was the easy part. However, it is the development of a business plan that we found most challenging (revenue model, investment, cash flows, market size, funding sources etc.). However with perseverance (meetings, hangouts, and messages) and a lot of help from our business school friends, experienced mentors and advisory board, we were able to develop a strong business model.

The final event stood up to its name. The topics for both panels were extremely timely with the current research and industry landscapes. It was an event, well planned and executed to perfection. At the Voices of Tomorrow segment we were amazed when fellow LoTs presented their problems and proposed their solutions. We presented our solution EETOR for the people gap and effectively responded to the questions posed by the panel of judges, resulting in us winning second place at the SLoT competition!

Team EETOR being awarded the second prize. Source : GBR
Team EETOR being awarded the second prize. Source : GBR

In addition, we absolutely appreciated the feedback from the judges and expression of interests from fellow LoTs on our idea. Our team was elated and we look forward to making EETOR a reality. Thanks to the SLoT forum, we were given the invaluable opportunity of building a passionate team, engaging with helpful mentors and connecting with a network of like-minded potential users of our App, who could also be our early App adopters.

The inaugural SLoT Forum 2016 was a wonderful beginning for more of such collaborative forums in Singapore and I look forward to the evolution of the SLoT Forum and how it will shape the local bio-economy as well as our future leaders.