Joice Yanto

Joice Yanto

Founder And Chief Executive, Evo House

Paul Poniman

Paul Poniman

Co-Founder & Business Development Manager

Dr Boon Tan

Dr Boon Tan

Academic Director

Discipline and strategy in shaping a successful life

When Joice Yanto was in secondary school, her two favourite subjects were Mathematics and Chemistry. The essential principles she learnt from these subjects have stayed with her all her working life, helping her to think, analyse and strategise plans for her career and business. From Mathematics, she developed her number-crunching skill that she applies to business investments and the financial advice she gives to clients. “Emotions and feelings can deceive but numbers do not lie,” Joice observes.

On Chemistry, she says an understanding of the chain reaction of elements, and the cause and effect of certain actions can be applied in making decisions in life. “This certainly helps me when advising my clients in term of growing their fund through investment.”

Of course, textbook knowledge in itself is not sufficient. “The strong points I possess are my business mindset and acumen that I’ve developed since 2003 when I started minding my own business,” she adds. She is the principal owner of Evo House, has maintained a determined and disciplined approach in dealing with life’s difficulties and dangers. The most vivid danger she recalls was in 1998 during the Asian economic meltdown when rioting engulfed her hometown Jakarta. She and her family barely escaped when a mob attempted to storm her parents’ house.

That year Joice came to Singapore and won a scholarship from Singapore Technologies to pursue a Master of Science in Computer Engineering at Nanyang Technology University.

“I started my career working at Singapore Technologies Computer System, serving my scholarship bond. Once I completed the bond period, I went to work as an independent contractor in an American property and fund-management company, while starting my own business.

“Using my earnings from both the property company and my own business, I brought my siblings (six of them!) one by one to Singapore, fully paying for their studies and living cost.”

Joice notes that in Indonesia, uncertainty and insecurity are an everyday affair. But in an ironic sense, coping with the feeling of uncertainty has been a blessing because it has motivated and disciplined her to plan and shape her own life, instead of being fatalistic and letting things take their own course.

Her philosophy in life is directed by the belief that change is the only constant. “To understand and overcome worst-case scenarios helps me therefore to handle life events with clarity and confidence, and not to be thrown aback when an unexpected change occurs,” she says.

The understanding of how change works is also reflected in her favourite movie, The Last Samurai (2003) starring Tom Cruise. Set in Japan in 1876, the film centres on Captain Nathan Algren who once fought in the US Civil War but is now adrift without purpose and direction. In Japan, another soldier, Katsumoto, has also seen his world fall apart. Katsumoto, the last of a line of Samurai warriors who had once devoted their lives to the service of the emperor but are no longer wanted in the modern age.

The paths of these two fighters meet when Algren moves to Japan and is entrusted by the young emperor to train a new army. When the emperor’s advisers try to eliminate the Samurai warriors, Algren is unexpectedly influenced by the strength of their convictions. The American soldier finds himself in the middle of a violent struggle between two eras and two worlds.

“What I learnt from the movie is that whether or not things are pre-arranged by a higher power is really not my concern. If I press on and refuse to stay down, eventually my own destiny will be revealed to me. Have I been knocked down recently? Sure, but I just get up and move on.”

Among Joice’s favourite recreations are mountain trekking and exploring new destinations. Trekking in the mountains has helped her develop the ability to see the big picture. “I am able to analyse any situation and visualise the big picture and long-term implications. This arises from my passion in climbing mountains for the feeling of exhilaration when I’m on the summit. It allows me to view things in many different perspectives, so as to anticipate and prepare myself for any eventuality.”

Reading books on the art of success is another means for Joice to build her people skills. For example, in one of her favourite works, Outliers – The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell, Joice says, “Through this book, I learn on how successful people achieve success through the help of others, through practice (10,000 hours rule is the road to mastery), and through opportunities on the way.” All three aspects must come together, one alone is not enough, as the book points out.

Finally, Joice has some advice for young people starting out in their own life journey:

“Be prepared when opportunity knocks, and aim for perfection, always. I believe opportunity is given only to those who are prepared and ready. It wastes no time with those who are unprepared. Whether an opportunity comes or not, I am responsible to be prepared. To be ready to strike when the moment is right.”
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Every young person can reach full potential in the right, conducive environment

“No young person is ever stupid or useless. Everyone is good in some things, whether in study, working with their hands or thinking with their heads,” says Paul Poniman.

The co-founder and business development manager of Evo House has been responsible for increasing the number of students residing in Evo House apartments from an initial 30 to 300 yearly. Paul and his team are even now busy preparing for an even larger intake of student residents once travel restrictions have eased in Singapore and the surrounding region.

Reflecting on his successful handling of the youths under his care at Evo House, Paul believes the secret lies in empowering the students and motivating them to overcome the stress of living in a foreign land, and reaching their full potential.

“Young people from abroad who study in Singapore face twice the pressure of the local folks,” says Paul. “First, in a foreign land they are away from the familiar comfort of home and the close support of parents and friends, which can induce a deep sense of loneliness and homesickness. Then, regardless of their emotional state, they have to plunge into their studies straightaway with no let-up in the course schedule. “Understanding this situation, my team and I at Evo House are always ready to provide advice, guidance and practical assistance to every student under our care. We provide a safe, healthy living space, so the students could just focus confidently on their studies, self-development and social activities without worrying about outside concerns.”

Paul who holds a Master in Management (2017) from the prestigious Singapore Management University and a BSc in Accounting and Finance (2009) from the University of London, is responsible for the success in the marketing and operational aspects of Evo House. He knows the anxiety of parents and his team goes out of their way to ensure that the young people entrusted to Evo House are provided with all the amenities conducive to a healthy student life outside of the classroom. “Once the young person is placed in such an environment, he or she will surely develop and achieve their full potential,” Paul assures the parents.

One of Paul’s favourite reading materials is the influential book, Theory of Mind by Martin J Doherty. The book provides him with resource knowledge and research findings into children’s psychology and their thinking and mindset. “It helps me in my work dealing with the psychology of how youngsters think and behave,” he says.

Paul quotes the 19th Century influential novelist and social reform thinker Charles Dickens: “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” This too is how Paul sees himself, as someone who tries his best to lighten the burdens of others, to make a useful contribution to the world. In his spare time, Paul is out of doors exploring new places, whether on vacation trips or even paddling a canoe in rivers and coastal waters in Singapore or a distant shore. – Updated November 8, 2020

We provide a safe, healthy living space, so the students could just focus confidently on their studies, self-development and social activities without worrying about outside concerns.
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Expertise in diverse business & management subjects and consultancy

With years of academic study and leadership under his belt, Dr Boon Tan is considered an authority in the various aspects of tertiary education, from teaching and student services to managing colleges and institutions.

Dr Tan holds a BSc (Hons) Operations Management (2000) and a PhD in Business and Management (2005) from Aston Business School, the 1st Triple Crown Business School in the UK. His areas of expertise are wide and diverse, covering Operations Management, Project Management and Strategy Management. His work experience includes teaching responsibilities covering general Business Management and IT security subjects.

His past portfolio includes Professor of Management, Xian Jiaotong Liverpool University, China (2007-2011), and Academic Director of PSB Academy (2012-2017). At PSB Academy, Dr Boon was deputy dean in charge of Student Services, as well as handling academic liaison with government agencies and PSB’s university partners.

Outside of the classroom, Dr Tan keeps up with the latest in business management theory and practice, with the publication of research papers in peer-reviewed journals and also through serving on the editorials boards of academic journals, including the internationally acclaimed Journal of Manufacturing and Technology Management. His favourite topic focuses on objective measurements of performance, as expounded in The Balanced Scorecard by Norton and Kaplan.

“This influential work emphasises the importance of putting into the equation of factors including customers, HR and Finance. The book has helped widen my horizon and understand how the developments and measurements of performance can be done in a more objective manner,” says Dr Tan.

Another work that has coloured his business philosophy is Quality Function Deployment by Akao. “The book has totally changed my mindset about customer needs and wants and how to incorporate them from even before the design stage, but at the brainstorming stage. In essence, my understanding of this is that all planning should have the end in mind.”

Even more important to Dr Tan in his current involvement in education is Teach with your Strengths by Lievseld, et al. The book discusses the unorthodox and sometimes controversial approaches (as seen in the past) of teachers in getting the best of out students.

“One thing in common stood out from the cases,” Dr Tan observes. “These teachers used their strengths and did not strive to be all-rounders. What struck me is the fact that if teachers can be nurtured to develop their strengths, why are we asking our students to be all-rounders? I feel that we as educators should help the students play to their strengths as well.”

As Academic Director, Dr Tan provides consultancy and expert guidance under Evo House’s subsidiary, Student Services Consultancy. His involvements include business development, curriculum development and delivery, as well as providing advice on operations and budgetary initiatives.

Dr Tan is also an Adjunct and Visiting Faculty to various universities, including the University of Glasgow and as Guest Professor at Xian International University. His teaching responsibilities include general Business Management subjects covering Principles of Marketing, HR, OB, Business Communications and Managerial Economics; and Information Warfare and Cyber Security. He also supervises students’ dissertation and research at the undergraduate, post-graduate and doctoral levels.

His advice to young people at the cusp of their personal growth and intellectual development: “You are probably too young to know what you really want in life but try anyway and keep trying. If you do not try; you will never know. Keep your focus though; when you try, a half-hearted try is not much better than not to try.

“There is a need to know the basics of each subject and that is why you are studying them. As you grow older, you can choose to be more specialised. Nothing comes free and nothing can be achieved without hard work. Put in the effort and when the time comes, the pain and toil you have put in will be justified by the rewards.

“Here’s one quote to remember: Never skip a good deed because it seems too small, and never commit a bad deed because it seems too small, either. What goes around comes around.”

Finally, Dr Tan encourages us to emulate entrepreneur extraordinaire Jack Ma, “not because he is one of the richest men on planet Earth, but because he keeps on trying”.

There is a need to know the basics of each subject and that is why you are studying them. As you grow older, you can choose to be more specialised. Nothing comes free and nothing can be achieved without hard work. -- Dr Boon on subject mastery
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