Nicholas Chan, the Founder and CEO of Yellowshorts Consulting, is one of Asia’s young and dynamic trainer consultants. With experience working with PETRONAS, Nikon, Panasonic, and British American Tobacco to name a few, his passion and dedication to his work and contribution is admirable and inspiring yet what distinguished him from the others is his dedication in doing charity work; his desire to help others stems from his time as a student and since then he has been devoted to the cause to make the world a better place. From a member and now the President of the Rotary Club of Petaling Jaya, this is the story of Rotarian Nicholas.
POLARIS VEGA: How long have you been in the club?
ROTARIAN NICHOLAS: I became a member of the Rotary Club of Petaling Jaya (RCPJ) in 2017, and I was inducted then and it’s approaching five years already since I’ve been in the club.
POLARIS VEGA: How did RCPJ specifically grab your interest?
ROTARIAN NICHOLAS: I was an interactor before, and incidentally, the Interact club that I was with was sponsored by RCPJ. In fact, the person who proposed my name and brought me in was my former Rotarian advisor when I was an interactor, Jack Lim. Going back to RCPJ and seeing familiar faces again felt like coming home as these people are all familiar faces to me. So, that’s why it was very comfortable for me to join RCPJ as I felt welcomed and not stressed out. My first meeting was very relaxed actually as Rotarian Jack brought me around and asked “Remember this guy or not?”
POLARIS VEGA: As a President what are the roles you will be taking in leading the club? That being said, what’s your vision and mission as the President?
ROTARIAN NICHOLAS: I think every president has their vision and mission, and I think it is more important now post-Covid. Our previous president, Immediate Past President Melissa shepherded us out of the pandemic, and for me, it’s more or less, welcoming everyone back into a sense of normalcy; having regular, physical meetings, and doing our physical projects again. In terms of my mission this year, I’m focusing more on education and youth because those are the ones affected the most by Covid. During the last term, we focused a lot on the B40, meaning survival, income generation, and relief work, so for my year, we are going to expand on education. I’m a very youth-centric Rotarian, and as I said before, every Rotarian has their direction. I remembered when people asked me “What’s going to be your direction for your year?” I would reply with “I feel comfortable working with youth, so youth would be the focus for my year.”
POLARIS VEGA: There’s a saying that charity starts from home. However, there is a certain minority that believes that you need money to do charity. What’s your take on this?
ROTARIAN NICHOLAS: In order for someone to do charity, the philosophy is you need to first volunteer, and volunteerism is the heart of anything. I remembered this quote a long time ago, I think I saw it from a movie and the quote goes something like this, “There’s nothing more noble than a heart of a volunteer,” I think it was Pearl Harbor.
I feel that, before we talk about money, people need to be able and willing to volunteer their time. Once you have the heart to volunteer, then that’s when money comes in. As you said, charity begins at home, so if your family is not in that charitable volunteering kind of thing, it’s going to be hard for you to start somewhere.
As a president, I’m going to be attending five committee meetings every first week of the month for the next 12 months, and that’s going to take a lot of commitment from my family to be away from their dad and husband. At the same time, I still have my business to run. All Rotarians are either working or own their own business, so they’re volunteering their time. That’s why I said this in my speech during my installation, “I appreciate the time people give to me no matter how small.” Even if you say you can only volunteer one hour a week, that’s more than enough because that’s what you can afford to give.
Before you think about charity, you must be willing to volunteer, if there’s no feeling of volunteerism in your heart, you won’t volunteer, you won’t feel nice doing it, so if you want to impart money, you need to first want to volunteer before you impart with it.
POLARIS VEGA: Every President has different ideas on how they envision the club to contribute to society. Do you plan to continue some of the existing projects and what are some of the projects that you have lined up throughout your presidency?
ROTARIAN NICHOLAS: I feel the projects that RCPJ already have is very good; we have a project called Supermum, which is a project for single mothers; a project for women in prison called Golden Women. The latter project is based in Kajang prison and is about sanitary pad making by prisoners. We spent quite a substantial amount, to import and bring in a machine that makes sanitary pads, which is an issue that many of us are not aware of and how important it is in women’s prison as it affects the income and health of the female inmates. These are our projects related to women, and incidentally, the Rotary International President for this term is also a woman; Jennifer Jones is the first woman to take on this role, so she’s focusing a lot on women empowerment.
For children, we have our Gift of Life, for children with heart disease and their families, and the Golden Child Project where we bring terminally ill children for a trip down to A’Famosa. We cover a whole spectrum of things. Then we have education; the SPM scholarship which I’m planning to expand, currently only covers SPM. We have a Rotarian who can offer scholarships, so we’re going to see whether can we expand the SPM to include A-Levels as well and maybe give them the opportunity to study overseas which he can get access to.
For my term this year, we plan to do a Rotary showcase; RCPJ has been around for a long time, 62 years in fact and we want to highlight the legacy, therefore the director Seng Chuan proposed the idea to organise an RCPJ open house, to show the historical value to the community about us. Not many people know that the RCPJ founded the National Kidney Foundation (NKF). Most of us would have heard the name but not many realise that it was started by a few Rotarians in RCPJ. Till today the NKF is still up and running and that is our legacy to the country. To answer the question, my vision for this year is leaning more towards expanding education and doing fundraising for the education funds.
POLARIS VEGA: What legacy would you want to leave behind once your term ends?
ROTARIAN NICHOLAS: I think my legacy would be the interactor who came home and just wanted to feel at home doing something good for society. When I was an interactor, my biggest impact and my biggest inspiration were always my Rotarian advisors, Jack Lim and Michael Toh. I always tell this to a lot of interactors, what club in school gives you a mentor who’s an adult? And not only an adult, a successful adult. Only Rotary offers you an advisor to guide you throughout the whole process of being an interactor and they’re always there to give you support and advice. If I were to have a legacy, it’s my way of saying thanks to RCPJ for giving me those years, which I enjoyed the most. My wife always asked me what were my favourite years in school, in my life? I told her, it was my six years in high school. In a nutshell, for my legacy, I want to contribute back to the club that helped me grow when I was in high school.