April 9, 2019
Beyond Waterloo soil
Jon Kwan (BMath ’01) unites the Waterloo community half a world away.
Jon Kwan (BMath ’01) unites the Waterloo community half a world away.By Penny Walford Office of Advancement
At any given time, the tiny island nation of Singapore plays host to some 400 individuals affiliated with Waterloo. Jon Kwan (BMath ’01) wants a pulse on them all.
The Toronto native moved to Singapore in 2008 to earn his MBA and soon after started his own career consulting business, Kwantum Leap Coaching. Intrigued by the idea of applying design thinking principles to individual careers, Kwan believes this human-centric approach will be a game changer in the future.
“It’s likely those first few touchpoints will occur long before a student sets foot on Waterloo soil.”
In 2010, Kwan became Chapter Lead for the Singapore alumni chapter, which is unique in its strong ties to recruitment. Kwan and other alumni can often be found representing the University at information fairs. They even host an annual send-off for students heading overseas to Waterloo.
“I’ve benefitted so much in so many different ways.”
Kwan credits the University’s open-door policy — the fact that deans, department chairs and even the President made time for him as a student — with helping him to succeed and inspiring him to give back. In 2001, senior administrators backed Kwan in starting the Canadian Undergraduate Technology Conference, which is still going strong today.
“Once you start waving the Waterloo flag a little bit, you find them everywhere.”
Kwan aims to host three or four alumni events each year. Some are small social gatherings, while others are more elaborate. When Waterloo administrators visited the area in 2018, alumni hosted an event at the Google offices in Singapore, where many Waterloo grads work. There have been speaking engagements and discussions with government officials as well.
In 2018, Kwan piloted a webinar in conjunction with Co-operative Education exploring what it’s like to live, work and play in Singapore. He and a fellow alumnus have produced an award-winning student guide to this same end.
“If I could share some words of wisdom with my fellow alumni, I would encourage them to get involved with Waterloo in a way that is meaningful to them.”
Kwan’s ideas? Join a chapter. Create one. Become a global ambassador. Create a student guide for your city. Give a talk. Participate on a panel. Propose a webinar. Get social. Organize or assist with events.
“Just start by telling us where you are in the world and making sure your LinkedIn profile references Waterloo.”