Name: Robert Meyer
Years attended GESS: 1980 - 1992, graduated from GESS
Current location: Singapore
Current occupation: Businessman
1. What do you miss most about your time at GESS? What is your fondest memory?
I enjoyed the early days, when our campus was on Chatsworth Ave. During interval, an old Chinese ice cream seller would appear and offer “50c cut”, which was s lice of Magnolia chocolate chip ice cream between 2 wafers.
2. What do you miss most about Singapore and your life there? If it has been a while, what do your remember most about your life in Singapore?
I have always been based in Singapore, so this question doesn’t apply to me. Singapore is my home, and that of my family.
3. What did you always want to tell my classroom teacher but never dared to say?
I have always been outspoken, so there isn’t much that I wanted to say but didn’t.
If anything, I would encourage teachers to take more risks with interactive teaching formats. “Show and tell” is a concept that my kids learnt in kindergarten, and I think it is a well-thought out way to integrate “home life” with “school life” on the one hand, and encourage the kids to speak about something they care about in an unscripted manner.
4. Do you think your time in Singapore and your time at GESS had an impact on your future life? If so, can you describe it?
Yes, it certainly did. My family moved to Singapore when I was 6 months old, so being “from Singapore” is a big part of my identity. The DSS, as GESS was know back in my days, was where I spent most of my time. I received a first-class education, had many good teachers over the years, some excellent, some not so, and it gave me the foundation to succeed in university and later on in life.
5. Is there any piece of advice or any experience you may like to share with current GESS students of fellow alumni, e.g. choosing the right university, finding a job etc.?
Education has become a commodity. Good grades are no longer the exception, they are the norm. Children that have the benefit of being born into a family that can offer a GESS education to them have boundless opportunities open to them.
This is a scary thing if you think about it, because in my student days, very few kids had as much choice as my kids have today. This means that focus comes into play much earlier, as children need to whittle down the opportunity set available to them and focus on what matters. The challenge then becomes to consciously make an effort where an effort is worth making, which means making the “right” choices. And that means that kids like Lucas and Lucy have to develop a big picture view much earlier than I had to.
6. Tell us a bit about where you went after you left GESS and what happened to you.
I graduated in the summer of 1992 (“Abitur”) and then had a 6 month break before my apprenticeship at Dresdner Bank AG in Hamburg started in January 1993. I spent the fall of 1992 as an intern with Porsche AG in Stuttgart. Upon graduating from my Apprenticeship in February 1995, I spent 5 months in Singapore working as a trainee before commencing my studies at European Business School, Schloss Reichartshausen, (“EBS”) in September 1995. My syllabus there included extensive studies abroad as well as further internships in France and Singapore, and I was very fortunate to be invited to join a 4 month research programme at the Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania. During my months at Wharton I finished my final thesis as graduated as Diplom Betriebswirt in 1999. The initial plan was to spend a 5th year at EBS to pursue a Masters degree, but South East Asia was in financial disarray in the aftermath of the Asian financial Crisis. This seemed like a good starting point for my career, so my father and I agreed that I would join his business as soon as possible, which meat October 1999. I spent the next 4 years working in the family business, before I took a leap of faith and ventured out on my own in December 2004 to start Halcyon Group.
7. What are you currently doing and what plans do you have for the future?
Halcyon Group is an industrial holding company that has developed various businesses over the years, across sectors and across Asia. Our biggest focus currently is our Natural Rubber business, Halcyon Agri Corporation Ltd, which I am responsible for.
My plans for the future include further expanding Halcyon Group, having a great time together with my wife Su-Lyn nurturing our children, spending time with my parents and trying to fit all this into 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year.
8. We would love to get a quote from you on why you would recommend GESS to other students, parents or teachers.
GESS is an international campus with European flair, based on the German education system that is located in the heart of Singapore, which I consider the most important city in the world for the foreseeable future. It has the potential of “being all things to all kids”, to paraphrase slightly.
This school has a chance of becoming an institution of international standing and repute – provided that it continues to attract the best teachers and stimulate them to make the extra effort to bring out the very best in each of its students. If GESS can deliver on that for 10 years in a row, then the resulting alumnus association is likely to carry the school for generations.