Professor You Poh Seng (1919 - 2012) served SIM for almost 20 years, first as advisor to the Governing Council, and then on a full-time basis as its Executive Director from 1979 to 1996.
Over this period, he demonstrated a capacity and willingness to take on the challenging task of upgrading not just the managerial skills of our workforce, but also inculcating continuing education and training as a lifelong goal. Toward these ends, he is to be credited for pioneering private tertiary education and advancing management knowledge and practice in Singapore.
Drawing from his experience in academia and applying his personal commitment to professionalism and innovativeness, he combined academic rigour with corporate enterprise to establish a unique, self-funding and self-sustaining business model for SIM, enabling it to become the premier higher education and human resource development institution that it is today.
Professor You proactively identified and expanded a relevant range of management programmes to meet the needs of executives. Together with the introduction of the Skills Development Fund by the Government in 1979, it generated a new interest in management training among companies and individuals alike.
Feeding on the success of the Diploma in Management Studies (DMS) programme started in 1973, and the ambition of DMS graduates for further upgrading, Professor You went on to establish links with overseas universities to provide further upgrading pathways for executives. In 1985, the Master of Science in Management Studies was launched in collaboration with Brunel University and Henley Management College.
This paved the way for SIM’s partnerships with more reputable overseas universities like the University of London and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. This radically transformed the private educational landscape in Singapore by unlocking further opportunities to offer overseas university education to working adults locally.
Graduates at the SIM-University of London’s first presentation ceremony (1992).
Professor You also led the development of various initiatives that have become hallmarks of SIM, like the formation of SIM Interest Groups, the launch of the SIM Annual Management Lecture, the Mandarin version of the DMS – Diploma in Business Studies (DBS) for Mandarin-speaking executives, and the ‘Job of the Chief Executive’ programme. Many of these are still thriving and remain as relevant today as they were back then.
Participants at the Job of the Chief Executive programme (1983).
In addition to the wide range of management training and development programmes, Professor You also saw the need for SIM to help organisations achieve greater effectiveness in training through a more customised approach. In 1984, he established the In-house Training and Consultancy Unit to deliver customised in-company training to organisations.
He also spearheaded several publications like the Singapore Management Review and Today’s Manager, the latter remaining till today, the staple management journal for our members.
Among Professor You’s many other achievements for SIM are:
- SIM’s appointment by the Government to undertake the Open University Degree programme in 1992, which laid the foundation for the setting up of our very own SIM University in 2005, as the only private university approved by the government to offer its own degrees
- SIM’s accolade as the first educational institute in Asia to attain the PSB ISO 9002 certification in 1993
- SIM’s first modern campus at Management House, and subsequently securing the land and planning for the development of SIM’s current Headquarters at Clementi Road
Professor You Poh Seng (centre) with SIM staff at Management House (1993).
In 1995, Professor You was bestowed the prestigious Distinguished Alumni Award by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) for his lifelong work in education that spanned 45 years, 28 of which were with the University of Singapore. In 2003, he was also awarded the distinguished title of Honorary Fellow of SIM, the highest recognition for individuals who have distinguished themselves in the field of management and/or made significant contributions to the growth and development of SIM.
By the time Professor You retired in 1996, SIM had in place, a comprehensive range of programmes at different levels: two Doctoral, 12 Masters, 18 Bachelors and over 20 Graduate Diploma, Diploma and Certificate programmes. He had also grown SIM from a modest office space of 5,000 square meters with 11 staff and 200 students, to a multi-campus institute with four centres, about 280 staff and approximately 10,000 students.
Recognising Professor You for his vision and commitment, his tenacity and professionalism as a pioneering leader of SIM, it gives us great pride to launch in his name and honour, the SIM-You Poh Seng Scholarship.