Lyman Ng is a total people’s person. Unassuming and without a hint of ego, this SMU Sports Union (SSU) events director is the man behind familiar events like SMU Sports Camp 2017 and Waikiki 2017. If you thought planning a team cohesion was stressful, try getting 1,200 people together.

Lyman Ng, SSU events director

Lyman Ng, SSU events director

Curious to find out what goes on behind student-run events, SMU Snapshots caught up with the seasoned events planner–who vets every event proposal from the school’s 35 sports clubs–to pick up some event management pro tips.

Before entering SMU, Lyman decided that he wanted his tertiary life to be holistic and fulfilling. “A good GPA is important, but not at the expense of a rich university experience”, he rationalised. Over the past two years, he’s had his hands full with countless school activities, making new friends, and picking up life skills outside of the classroom.

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Lyman and team at the Solid 2K17 SMU Sports Camp

Round up the dream team

Lyman’s first exposure to SSU was during freshman sports camp. He saw how the organising team ran the event and liked that they had lots of freedom to actualise their own ideas. It was a team culture that he wanted to be a part of. When recruitment for the Sports Awards Night 2016 organising committee rolled around, he seized the opportunity to sign up. He has been involved in majority of the school’s sports events ever since.

But Lyman’s SSU responsibilities go beyond the annual sports events. In fact, his deputies Chester Lee and Deborah Kelly Lek now have the confidence to execute these larger-scale events without needing to seek his approval at every turn.

“They’ve been awesome and I’m very grateful for the both of them. It’s hard to do without a good team. They are adaptable and eager to learn. From guiding them along during their first event, they are now able to coordinate everything smoothly such that I can just take a backseat.”

The dream team from left to right - Kelly, Lyman, Chester

The dream team from left to right – Kelly, Lyman, Chester

It helps to have a dedicated team when executing an event. Three values that Lyman and his team look out for when recruiting committee members are a good attitude, teamship and competency.

“We prefer to have someone who is not very experienced but can work well with people, over someone who can do very well, but can’t work with others. Because that affects the morale of the team. For us, good attitude comes first, followed by the ability to work in a team and finally their competency.”

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Team SSU getting together for a fun shoot

Plan ahead

After the team is built comes the setting of goals and deadlines. Lyman believes in having achievable deadlines – not the sort where you only have twelve hours till it’s due first thing in the morning. With proper planning, the team stays up to date, expectations are realistic, and everyone knows when it is time to turn up the pace.

Although the team plans ahead to prepare for unexpected scenarios, Lyman has learnt over the past semester that one can never be too prepared, and thus must never be too confident. There will be unforeseeable events that one cannot predict, and he stresses that it is important to “always leave room for hiccups”.

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Lyman and the SSU managing committee during a strategic retreat

Be adaptable

The biggest personal developments for Lyman since taking on the SSU leadership role are that he is less hot-headed, more patient and more understanding.

When he was elected, Lyman’s initial mentality was to use the demerit points system to keep every club in check. Since growing into the role, he has come to realise the significance of being voted in by his fellow schoolmates – instead of making things difficult, he should be trying his best to make things happen for them.

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The 13th SSU managing committee all dressed up for AGM

“I have learnt to listen to others to get a more holistic picture. Where I can be more flexible about things, I try to be more flexible and understand the situation before coming to a conclusion. Ultimately, I am here for the clubs. Every single one has their own set of constraints, so they cannot be compared against the same standards.”

Being adaptable and understanding are lessons that Lyman wishes he had learnt earlier. To his successors, he stresses the importance of placing the priorities of the clubs and schoolmates before the self.  “The decisions you make should not be based on what you think suits you, but what is good for everyone,” Lyman concludes.