The volunteers at Conjunct are truly the spirit and the lifeblood of the organisation. In the last six years, we have worked with close to 1,000 volunteers, both student and professional, to strengthen the social good organisations in Singapore. It is heartening for us to see the effort people make to give back to society and we feel blessed to be a driving force for volunteers to be associated with.
It is never an easy feat seeking to balance one’s professional workspace commitments with the passion to serve and be involved in the volunteering sector. This month, we are celebrating one such volunteer who has achieved such admirable balance and success in both spheres. Brian Liu has been an active part of Conjunct as a Project Advisor in the past 3 years, building the capacity of Conjunct by coaching and mentoring student project teams. We hope this blog inspires all who wish to serve the community that the balance is challenging but not impossible. Learn more about Brian’s journey and growth in the community-volunteering space as well as in Conjunct Consulting by reading his interview here.
Brian Liu – Volunteer of the Month – July 2018
What are your day job and work area?
I have been in the management consulting sector with one of the big 4 accounting firms for over a decade. It has been an amazing run of working with clients in both the private and public sector, from doing field work in farms out in Vietnam to looking at Submarines, to even building a smart city from scratch. Doing strategy and operations work across such a diverse space is an opportunity that I am always so grateful for. Late last year, I left that firm and joined Bose, taking on an equally dynamic in-house consulting role.
How did you hear about Conjunct and what prompted you to start volunteering with us?
I have always been active in the community-volunteering space and I guess through my LinkedIn profile, the algorithm picked up that I might be interested in a Project Advisor role with Conjunct Consulting. I clicked through a few years back and it’s been an amazing ride with Conjunct since then. As professional duties continue to stack up, I always say that this would be my last project cycle, but I’m always so thoroughly inspired by the student project team, that I keep signing up for another round. It’s a virtuous cycle that I just can’t shake!
What is your role at Conjunct?
My primary role has been a Project Advisor – which is to coach and mentor a student project team to deliver their very best to the partner-beneficiary. Scribbling on whiteboards in a classroom on a weekly basis with students, brainstorming on the best approach and solutions for organizations that are already doing so much for the community; I can’t imagine a better evening of time well spent. Other than that, I am developing training content to further push the abilities and excellence of the student volunteers. Sharing real-world dynamics and challenges through training and during case competitions are the other avenues where I hope to provide further value to Conjunct’s mission.
Tell us a little bit more about your volunteering journey – Do you volunteer elsewhere?
My focus has always been on humanitarian and youth work. I have responded with humanitarian and medical relief when the Tsunami hit as well as when the superstorm hit the Philippines. I’ll go with whatever agency is going to the ground to deliver help. In terms of youth work, I’ve been helping out with the National Youth Council on various initiatives over the last 2 decades. There is nothing more energizing and inspiring than collaborating with like-minded youth to build capabilities and effect positive change in the community.
How does volunteering impact you personally?
Volunteering keeps me plugged into real life. It’s so easy to stay comfortable (especially in Singapore) with little or no need to actually engage with the people and issues outside your bubble. But to me, this is artificial and frankly, a very self-centred existence. Real life is taking in the luxuries and grandeur of nature and human ingenuity, but it is also taking on the other side of the tracks where things don’t always work out so well. Volunteering keeps me grounded in what real life, a full life, is all about.
What has been your best/favourite experience while volunteering with Conjunct?
I can’t pinpoint an absolute favourite experience as I have had so many memorable nights of simply slumping into my seat in laughter, working with the student project teams. May it be during our working sessions or the chill out sessions afterwards. I guess one highlight I would mention is when we had our update meeting to the senior management, who in this case was a rather well-known Member of Parliament. Other than the female students gushing over his good physique, I hoped and believed they took away the learning that even though they are just students, volunteering their humble talents, they can get the attention of national leaders through the excellence and rigour of their work. I was a very proud Project Advisor that evening.
Tell us a little bit more about yourself – some interests, hobbies, things that matter to you.
I’m a guy of extremes. I need and crave new and intellectual experiences. But at the same time, I crave the quiet alone time to rest and reflect. So my life is lived in sprints, where I dive deep into new things, take them all in and then a quiet period to take stock, before moving into a new space. Being a Project Advisor is a perfect gig in the sense that I focus for 10 weeks with the project team, getting deep and intense about the issues and dynamics of a client. Once we’re done, I can take a break and then it’s the next project cycle with a whole new bag of things to think about!
So in short, making real, authentic connections with people, growing and contributing value to those around me is what I feel makes up the good life.
Your message to other volunteers.
Step out of what you know. The world and even Singapore is much bigger, deeper and richer than you know. I’m big on the mindset of being a sheep in wolves clothing – be strong, agile and hungry on the outside, but on the inside, be sensitive, open and easily inspired. You will become a deeply grounded and grateful person, which puts you in a much better position to be the change agent you never knew you could be.
Thank you, Brian, for all your handwork and dedication. Conjunct Consulting is grateful to have you as a part of our team and thank you for all that you do! If you would like to connect with Brian, do follow him on his LinkedIn profile here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brianzhliu/
If you would like to volunteer with Conjunct Consulting, check out our site: https://conjunctconsulting.org/volunteers/