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Shirin Fozdar Programme Networking Evening: Being Whole and Powerful to Contribute

17 Apr 2018

Among the many ways the Shirin Fozdar Programme (SFP) engaged the community to nurture integrated perspectives was via a Networking Evening and timely insights on pathways towards wholeness. Driving home a message of mindfulness in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world, authors Ms Wendy Tan and Mr Kathirasan Kathir joined SFP Chairperson Ms Claire Chiang at the Singapore Management University on 4 April 2018.


In her welcome remarks, Ms Chiang highlighted SFP’s calendar of upcoming activities for the year and its efforts to bring students, advocates, policymakers and the public together to “shape a resilient community and nurture integrated perspectives in women’s development”. Ms Chiang reminded the audience of the SFP ethos of RICE, where each letter represented resilience, inclusiveness at all levels, connectivity to the world and engagement for women, and how this guided the way in which SFP operated in the community.



Ms Chiang underscored the commitment of SFP’s role in raising awareness and reinforcing the implementation of ideas, such as inclusiveness and gender balance in the workplace, through continuous engagement with the community. Ms Chiang introduced the evening’s speakers by sharing her personal takeaway from the books they had each penned, emphasising how the practice of mindfulness had helped her to find her own inner sanctuary. She encouraged everyone to adopt mindfulness as a way to shape the mind, akin to the discipline of exercise to tone the muscle, to “let it think and process in a way that is positive to move forward”.   


Ms Wendy Tan, author and Co-founder of Flame Centre, took the stage with a keynote address with the themes of staying balanced in a disruptive world and contributing sustainably to the larger world. Offering pragmatic scenarios, Wendy drew on her experiences with Flame Centre, a talent development practice based in Asia, where she worked with clients to develop and implement solutions to engage staff, increase retention, develop teams and increase productivity. 


Wendy is the author of ‘Wholeness in a Disruptive World: Pearls of Wisdom from East and West’, which highlights how it has never been more important for an individual to be whole, as the pace and intensity of modern life exert its demands. As an entrepreneur and mother of three, she had faced constant demands that fragmented her mind and energies. Connecting with the audience that evening with her authentic disposition, Wendy drew on her personal experiences of a physical breakdown from trying to “do it all” and her realisation of the importance of achieving balance despite being pulled in different directions by the demands of today’s world.



This inspired her book, where she drew on the combined wisdom of Eastern and Western thinking, and integrated extensive interviews with leaders and executives, to shine a spotlight on the path towards wholeness – for individuals, as well as organisations and communities.


The keynote was followed by a mindfulness session led by Mr Kathirasan Kathir, Founder and Director of the Centre for Mindfulness and author of ‘Mindfulness in 8 Days’. As an established mindfulness teacher and practitioner, with a background in philosophy, organisational development, leadership and education, Kathir has been teaching contemplative practices for more than a decade. Equipped to contextualise and integrate mindfulness and psychology within the areas of education, learning, counselling and stress management, Kathir has worked with various organisations, from government agencies to international hotel groups, to teach and facilitate workshops on themed on mindfulness applications.


During the evening’s mindfulness session, Kathir imparted techniques on how individuals could integrate the personal aspects of mindfulness into professional life. “In an age of distraction, we are in danger of losing sight of what is truly meaningful to us. Mindfulness brings focus and awareness back into our lives,” he said.



Having spent a good portion of his career working with C-Suites as well as corporate stakeholders across different cultures and geographical locations, he possessed a holistic view of how organisational systems are inter-connected and a familiarity with formulating policies and strategies. His deep consultancy experience ensured that the advice he extended to participants was practical, relevant and applicable.



The mindfulness session was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Ms Chiang. Questions from the audience ranged from how one could successfully keep the mind still to the challenge of meditation. Summing up the session, Ms Chiang highlighted a quote which she found to be powerful: “Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you, as by the attitude you bring to life. Not so much by what happens to you, as by the way your mind looks at what happens.”


Underscoring a quote by Aristotle, “The ultimate value of life depends upon awareness and the power of contemplation rather than by mere survival”, Ms Chiang encouraged members of the audience to accept how each individual is a “work in progress” in the continuous process towards achieving balance and wholesomeness.



The networking event hosted by SMU was attended by more than 90 guests comprising members of the private and public sector, business leaders, students, alumni, faculty and staff. Among the audience were several notable guests, including Dr Jimmy Fozdar, son of the late Ms Shirin Fozdar, and SFP Advisory Board Members.


Featured photo: (L-R) Shirin Fozdar Programme (SFP) Chairperson Ms Claire Chiang, authors Ms Wendy Tan and Mr Kathirasan Kathir in a panel discussion at the SFP Networking Evening at SMU on 4 April 2018.


Last updated on 13 Jun 2018 .