After being persuaded by his father that there was no future in engineering, Andrew entered the National University of Singapore’s Faculty of Law and graduated with a Second Class (Lower) in 1993. He did his pupillage with a branded law firm, decided the partnership track was not for him, and joined a French MNC’s in-house legal team only to find out later the company was in debt. He then joined a relatively unknown company called Nokia. During his time with Nokia, he got sent to live in Finland twice and was part of a business leadership team managing a EUR 40+ billion business. He is now Head of Legal (Asia-Pacific) at KONE, another Finnish company, as well as head of its Change Management Function. Andrew’s wife and two daughters think they are smarter than him… and Andrew doesn’t deny it.
This Letter is addressed to himself in his second year of law school.
You’ve never seen so many Ds and Cs in last year’s report card in your life. Okay, so you failed art before, but that doesn’t count. Let’s face it, you bombed out in your first year and it’s great that you got yourself into 2nd year somehow. But I wouldn’t worry too much about this. It’s difficult, in fact, almost impossible to flunk out of law school. Your seniors told you this. Keep believing this and it will lead you in the fantastic path of getting mediocre grades. The good news is you didn’t worry too much about this. After all, there is more to life than grades. Lesson 1 – don’t worry too much about your results. Don’t let your grades define you.
Before delving deeper into your lackluster results, I want to remind you about hall life. Yes you did single handedly ban pushball after your freak accident in 1st year orientation in Raffles Hall. Next time round don’t be a hero and be the first to reach the ball. Otherwise you’ll be spending some time at NUH. The doctors and nurses there are great! Lesson 2 – Don’t be a hero. Rely on teamwork.
Before I forget, please don’t spend every evening going for supper at Fong Seng’s nasi lemak stall or eating Maggie mee in the evenings with your hall mates. You might not know it now, but you’ll get weird cravings for Maggie noodles later in your adult life and this will likely be passed down to your kids as well. I’m not sure how, but it happened. This won’t fit very well, but here goes: Lesson 3 – Don’t Eat Maggie mee every day.
Work some of the time during the long holidays. Don’t just go dating and holidaying. You were a librarian at Rodyk & Davidson last year amending statutes. Try to get an attachment next year in another law firm to gain more exposure. Spend time in the various clubs and associations in the university to widen your circle of friends. Basically, don’t be lazy. Lesson 4 – Don’t be lazy.
When you reach your 3rd year, most of your friends will be worried about which law firm they want to go to. Start applying for pupillage positions, etc. Don’t worry too much about which law firm you want to go to or apply to. You might not even want to be a lawyer in a law firm! You might not like the partnership track. You might want to be an in-house lawyer instead (if so, you might want to visit www.scca.org.sg). Keep an open mind. Lesson 5 – Don’t be fixated on law firms. Keep your options open.
Finally, at some point in your life when you’re given the opportunity to live in a country with sub-zero temperatures, remember to bring your significant other there in summer when you want to convince her to leave her job and relocate. Lesson 6 – Marketing is important.
See you real soon!