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School of Information Systems alumnus Alvin Poh speaks at the inaugural SMU Alumni Conversations series

20 Mar 2018

Alvin Poh (BSc(ISM), 2010), an alumnus from the School of Information System and co-founder of Vodien Internet Solutions Pte Ltd, was the inaugural speaker at the SMU Alumni Conversations series held at The Alcove on 1 March 2018.

The event, which was graced by SMU President Professor Arnoud De Meyer, saw a turnout of more than 30 alumni, students, faculty and staff, including Vice Provost (Research) Professor Steve Miller. It was co-hosted by SMU Alumni Association, SMU Eagles Inc Entrepreneurs Club and the Office of Advancement.   

SMU Alumni Conversation series aims to bring back some of our successful alumni to share their experience and insights with students and fellow alumni, as well as to renew their connections with SMU.

During the conversation moderated by Deborah Wee (BSc(SocSc), 2009), President of SMU Alumni Association, Alvin shared his entrepreneurial journey and the inspiration of giving back to SMU.

He said that coming from a low to middle-income family, he didn’t get an allowance when he was young, and had to look for ways to raise money for himself. That was the spark for his entrepreneurial journey. He started Vodien Internet Solutions with a partner and has since grown the company into a leading cloud hosting provider in in Asia that supports over 35,000 companies and 210,000 users. Vodien provides reliable and high-performance hosting solutions such as website and email hosting, servers, colocation, security and connectivity, all backed by 24/7 super support. In fact, Vodien was so successful that the company has merged with Australian online solutions provider Dreamscape Networks in July 2017 to support an expansion in Asia-Pacific. The S$30 million merger is the largest deal size for a pure-play hosting provider in Southeast Asia.

A recipient of the National Infocomm Scholarship, Alvin joined the SMU-CMU Fast Track programme which allows SMU students to graduate within four to four and half years with both a Bachelor of Science (Information Systems): Information Systems Major degree from SMU, and a master's degree in IT from Carnegie Mellon University, USA.

Reminiscing about his learning journey at SMU, Alvin said “I was privileged to have an SMU education which gave me many opportunities to grow, especially as an entrepreneur. SMU has a pedagogy centred around exploration, and from that, I learnt how to learn, and that put me in good stead as I needed to quickly pick up a wide variety of skills to run and scale up my business.

“In addition, the project-based learning provided the foundations upon which I further developed my critical thinking skills, and the necessary communication and leadership skills that were necessary to run a company. With these opportunities that the school provided, I found the tenacity and the confidence that was necessary to grow from a start-up to the market-leading cloud hosting provider that we are today.”

Alvin hopes to give students the freedom to chart their own career paths with a bond-free scholarship. As such, the Alvin Poh Endowed Scholarship – courtesy of a $250,000 gift from Alvin Poh - was established in 2017 and is available to full-time undergraduates at SMU. It aims to provide financial assistance to needy undergraduates during their course of study at the University.

He said, “Receiving the National Infocomm Scholarship has opened many doors for me, and I want the same opportunities to be given to deserving students, especially if their financial background is keeping them from taking up these opportunities.”

Ending the session, Alvin encouraged all alumni to take the step to contribute their time, knowledge and expertise back to their alma mater so as to benefit future generations of SMU students.

[Featured photo: Alvin Poh (front row 3rd from right) was the inaugural speaker at the SMU Alumni Conversations. With him were SMU President Prof Arnoud De Meyer (3rd from left) and Vice Provost (Research) Prof Steve Miller (2nd from right).]

Last updated on 06 Apr 2018 .