Welcome to another “face of ACS”, an interview series starring ACS Volunteers and their journey in serving the non-profit community.
John Louie is a well-known face of ACS, having started as a regular volunteer in 2013 at the ASCEND workshops, before devoting 3 years (from 2015-2018) to run the show at ACS as Executive Director. John then left ACS to spend more time with his family and on other pursuits but, to our delight, he allowed himself to be lured back to the fold last year, to assume the role of Director of Volunteer Engagement.
What 3 words would your friends use to describe you?
Impartial, Sociable, Humorous
I try to be objective on issues I’m confronted with and am interested to see and understand different points of view. My detractors would say that I sit on the fence too often. Over the years, I’ve found that humour can help to break the ice and narrow people’s differences. I, therefore, try not to take myself too seriously.
As inside joke at ACS is: “No one actually leaves ACS”. Could you tell us more about when you first joined ACS as Executive Director (from 2015-2018), and why you returned to re-join the ACS Team last year as Director of Volunteer Engagement?
I was first introduced to ACS by Janice Ng, who was then the IGNITE Program Manager and started volunteering towards the end of 2013. After joining several strategy workshops (now named ASCEND), I was really impressed by the passion and dedication of the NGO leaders who serve their target beneficiary groups tirelessly even though most of their organizations were under-resourced. I also got to know a whole new network of like-minded business professionals from very diverse backgrounds, industries, and fields who were volunteering like me. So I found my volunteering experience and the ACS community extremely stimulating and rewarding.
As my corporate career was winding down, I learnt in 2015 that ACS was recruiting a new ED, so I applied for the position and became a full-time staff member that October. After more than 30 years in the corporate sector, I found managing a small NGO very challenging, but it was also a never-ending learning experience. In retrospect, I thoroughly enjoyed my 3 years as ED, especially the friendships built up with other NGO leaders, volunteers, and our corporate and foundation partners.
After officially becoming a senior citizen, I decided to step down in late 2018 in order to have more time to travel and visit family members overseas, and spend time with my grandson. I’m very much enjoying my present part-time role as Director of Volunteer Engagement at ACS since October last year.
You had a successful professional career of more than 30 years in the corporate arena. Could you share an observation of the next generation in the NGO community, as well as a word of encouragement to them?
What I’ve learnt through my long working career is that no one can be sure what the future will bring and that the only constant in the world is change. So we all need to have a lifelong learning mindset in order to keep up with the constant technological and societal changes. I’ve also learnt that we should always try to think outside the box, and there’s no harm in adopting the trial-and-error method to go forward.
Thank you John!