Melissa You Wen Chong, Class of 2008

Current Profession: Consultant for Corporate Citizenship
University Attended: London School of Economics – Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations

Alumna Melissa Chong, Class of 2008, cares deeply about social justice and has pursued this career path since graduating from GIS. She currently works as a consultant for Corporate Citizenship, helping companies to minimise their negative impact on the environment and human rights, and look beyond their profit margins to create societal good. Melissa also works as a legislative assistant for a Member of Parliament in Singapore to advocate for the rights of the marginalised in society. She was previously a broadcast journalist at Channel NewsAsia, and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations from the London School of Economics.

Can you share with us about what you’re doing at the moment?
I’m currently working in the field of sustainability, which looks at how companies can ensure they do not create negative impact on the environment and human rights, while simultaneously maximising the good they can contribute to society. For example, if I’m a company that produces clothes, I want to make sure that the workers in my factories are not working under forced labour conditions. Or if I am a mining company, I want to make sure that I have conducted appropriate environmental assessments before I make a decision to start operations somewhere. This is a growing field of work which is very exciting, attracting many younger people like myself who want to make a difference. On the side, I am also helping a Member of Parliament in Singapore to draft speeches for his debates in Parliament, as well as engaging with NGOs to advocate for the rights of marginalised groups such as single parents, migrant workers, refugees, wildlife and the environment.

Can you share some of your best memories from your time at GIS?
It would have to be the various outdoor expeditions that I completed as part of the IA (International Award) programme. Looking back, I shouldn’t have taken for granted all the amazing opportunities to kayak in Langkawi, visit Taman Negara, hike up Mount Kinabalu and see a Rafflesia up close! I still tell stories about these trips to my friends today – they really were a highlight of my schooling experience.

How did GIS prepare you for University studies and beyond?
I think the education I received at GIS was pretty holistic, in that we had a lot of exposure to different things – whether through the breadth of subjects we could study at GCSEs/A levels, the wide range of CCAs offered, or the fantastic school trips. All of these opportunities definitely widened my horizons.

I would also say that my interest in social justice was birthed out of my A level classes – Economics, Sociology and Geography – which I loved. I caught up with a classmate from my Sociology class recently (after 10 years!) and we both agreed that the subject really shaped our worldview. In hindsight, I’m very thankful to my teachers at GIS who taught their subjects so passionately.

What advice would you give to current GIS students?
GIS – or any school for that matter – can only give you a limited perspective of the world, because your classmates tend to be from the same socioeconomic status, have similar interests, and so on. I would challenge you to find meaningful opportunities to spend time with people who are unlike you – through volunteering, work experience, or other any other means – because these connections will widen your perspectives and deepen your view of the world.