"The success of RMITAS would have been impossible without the contribution and dedication of its committee members volunteering their time to service and grow the alumni community"

Paul Chia
Paul Chia
Co-founding member of RMITAS

First launched in 2001 with only a few members, RMIT Alumni Singapore (RMITAS) is now considered the largest Australian alumni association in Singapore with more than 30,000 members. The success of RMITAS would have been impossible without the contribution and dedication of its Committee members volunteering their time to service and grow the alumni community, as well as the efforts of pioneering Committee members such as Paul Chia, who facilitated the legal recognition of the alumni association in 2001.

First joining RMITAS in 1999 as a pro-tem member, Paul took on the role of Event Officer in 2001 when the alumni association was legally registered, before stepping up to serve as Vice President in 2003 and President from 2004 to 2015.

Paul’s extensive career outside of his work with RMITAS includes Co-Founder and Director of CXM Capital Pte Ltd (Singapore), CXM Global Ltd (HK) and Group of Companies, and over 30 years of industry experience in senior management portfolios over a wide range of multinational corporations. Prior to his portfolio, he was the Director of the Online Development Group of Development Authority of Singapore.

How did your involvement with RMITAS start?

I completed my Master’s Degree in International Management with RMIT in 1999. Having lived in Sydney from 1981 to 1989 throughout my high school and undergraduate years, I was passionate to keep a connection with Australia and being involved in alumni work was a new experience for me, so I was excited to play a part in the society as a member.

How did the idea of legally registering RMITAS come about?

For almost 10 years, the existing unofficial association was organizing networking sessions for RMIT alumni in Singapore, from social mingling over drinks, to professional events at the Singapore Institute of Management.

However, there were always concerns about the legitimacy of having large group of people gathered at public venues. In 2001, the managing committee decided to address the issue by registering the alumni association with the Registry of Societies (ROS).

Following registration, RMITAS was governed by the constitutions of ROS and RMITAS that demanded entrusting its administration to a Committee, elected at the Annual General Meeting. I took up the role of Event Officer, working alongside 10 other Committee members committed to the growth of the association.

What were the difficulties and obstacles faced?

Originally members had to pay $12 per year to access the full suite of exclusive alumni benefits, gifts and special offers from merchants, which was not well received.

In 2004 during my tenure as President, the membership fee was discontinued following a consultation with RMIT Melbourne. Thereafter, all RMIT graduates were automatically members who only needed to pay for events they attended.

Furthermore, all of us at RMITAS worked on a voluntary basis, with no full-time staff to assist in the operation or handle the necessary administrative work. We had to manage everything ourselves. We also had to source our own funding from event sponsors and partners on a project-by-project basis and make things happen!

Working with the right partners and our wonderful committee members tides us over these difficult times, as does working closely with RMIT Melbourne.

How has playing a part in RMITAS impacted your life – personally and professionally?

There were many memorable events during my tenure with RMITAS. For instance, I’ve had the opportunity to meet Prime Ministers, Ambassadors of Australia-Singapore organisations, successful entrepreneurs across many industries, as well as connect with leaders of alumni bodies in other countries.

The experience has strengthened both my hard skills and soft skill set such as accountability, responsibility, communication, assertiveness, leadership and management. Given my long service at RMITAS, I could have written a book on it but never get around to doing it!

What do you wish to see RMITAS become in the next 20 years?

I hope that the association will continue to grow and develop into the leading alumni association in Singapore.

Interested in joining RMITAS?

You can find out more by following the RMITAS Facebook Page!

Since publishing this interview, Paul Chia sadly passed away on July 27th 2020.

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