Featured Story: Dr. Vic Lee Proves That Age Is Just A Number When It Comes To Acquiring New Skills

With a doctorate degree, one might be contented with one’s education qualification, but it is not the case for Dr. Vic Lee. He holds a degree in Doctor of Business Administration which he studied full-time for 5 years in University of Western Australia and is currently a Chief Executive of his own business before enrolling into SHATEC. We sat down for a quick interview with him to find out his decision to study WSQ Higher Certification in Culinary Arts and his perception of lifelong learning.

What made you come to SHATEC to study a full-time course?

There are three reasons and the first is hope. My youngest son, who is currently in his early thirties, was a culinary graduate of SHATEC. He did his internship at Hilton Hotel and performed so well that the executive chef offered him a full-time position after his internship. One day, he came back to inform us that his executive chef wanted to see his parents. It came as a shock to us, but to my pleasant surprise, the executive chef hosted a dinner for me and my wife and asked our son to cook for us. That night, I tasted the steak he cooked and it was so much better than mine. The executive chef shared with us that our son is a very good chef which indicated the high quality training SHATEC provides for its students. Recently, he asked if I could support him to open a small restaurant. I decided then to study in SHATEC as I know that it is where I can learn the fundamentals of being a chef after seeing my son’s capabilities upon graduating from the institution. I am hoping that with exposure to cooking that I myself love would be able to back him up later on. As a parent, it is my dream to be able to open a door for my children as they pursue their own dreams and goals in life.

Secondly, I love western cooking. I learnt the Australian way of cooking steak during my study in Australia, but it is very basic. I thought that the opportunity of giving myself a sabbatical leave to enrol into a full-time culinary programme would give me a breather from my job as a business consultant. During this period of time, I thought of how I can do better for my clients or existing and future clients. Hence, there is duo focus, having a short leave away from work and simultaneously, relook into what I can do better in my business.

Last but not least, I want to learn how skills are taught. I give lectures in MBA programmes that require a more academic approach and teaches based on case studies. In this case, there is a method in delivering knowledge. However, in terms of skills such as cooking skills, it interests me to find out how it can be taught and how individuals benefit from a trainer if one does not know anything about cooking. I learn a lot in the process and can now understand the method of imparting skills as a form of teaching.

How did your friends react when you share about your decision to study a full-time culinary programme?

When I told my close friends that I am taking a 6 month break to study at SHATEC, they could not comprehend my decision and have differing views from me. I feel that in every profession, one does not need to be highly educated. In my opinion, having an high Intelligence Quotient (IQ) is good in general. However, in industries such as hospitality and food and beverage, they would require a higher Emotional Quotient (EQ). Nevertheless, they are both equally important. When I hang around with my cohort of student chefs, they might only hold a certain academic qualification, but it does not matter for they have the ability to absorb and develop into a skillful professional in time to come.

What is your plan after you graduate?

The certificate sets me thinking on how I can use resources to enhance my state of life, be it in economic standing or hobby. I am thinking of working with a partner who I have done business with and already in a catering business that specialises in Nyonya food. I was thinking by learning more about Western menu and cuisine, there would be an opportunity for me to create something unique and supplement my friend’s Nyonya business. I look forward to using the skills that I have acquired from SHATEC and come up with dishes that are more creative so as to be differentiated from others.

Can you share with us your thoughts on lifelong learning?

In my opinion, lifelong learning is a mindset change for anyone who is a senior citizen or even before one becomes a senior citizen. However, I would like to correct the perception that lifelong learning begins when your progress to the later part of your life. My late mother instilled the idea of lifelong learning in me when I was in primary one. On my first day of school, she told me to continue learning and be educated in life. Furthermore, she emphasised that education is a lifelong task. Hence, the roots of lifelong learning should begin in childhood and follow throughout one’s life.

(L-R) Chef Nicholas, Joseph and Dr Vic

Furthermore, the Singapore government is currently promoting lifelong learning for all ages especially the senior citizens. I feel that learning is a form of healthy living to get your mind and body functioning. I am glad that our government is advocating actively for lifelong learning even though there are many who still have the perception that they have reached the age to retire and enjoy themselves. I continue to learn a skill of a higher certificate level even when I have obtained a doctorate degree and I feel that there is nothing wrong with it. It keeps me fulfilled and taught me to cook a better meal for myself and my family. It can also be a possible opportunity to open a business or even work for somebody else if I happen to be out of job. All in all, it opens up a whole new field of interest in life for anyone who wants to benefit from lifelong learning.