Chang Mong Tay (BE 1974, PhD 2004)

Chang Mong Tay
Monash alumnus Chang Mong Tay

CM Tay’s days as a Colombo Plan scholar at Monash University date back to the 1970s, but their impact on his life continues today.

Dr Tay grew up in Singapore as one of 10 children, living above his parents’ shop on multi-cultural Beach Road, and his family put great value on education as a way for their children to create a better life.

Earning a Colombo Plan scholarship was one of the few opportunities available at that time for talented Asian students to study overseas and it was seen as the ‘ultimate scholarship’, and brought great honour to his family, Dr Tay said.

The scholarship to study at Monash’s Faculty of Mechanical Engineering changed not only his educational opportunities but his attitude to life.

“It’s is a one-time award but leads to a personal commitment to excel in whatever endeavours one takes in the rest of one's life – to live up to the expectations of an ex-scholar,” he said.

“Work done by a CP scholar must be different by quality standard and level, within the shortest possible time.”

In keeping with that belief, Dr Tay spent his time at Monash honing a learning strategy of ‘optimisation’.

After missing all his hated organic chemistry lectures in first year, and with 10 hours to go before the end-of-year exam, “I sub-divided the 10 chapters of the organic chemistry book and went through it one chapter per hour. I left the exam hall the next morning and got a Distinction.”

He also spent time helping other students who were struggling.

“I have my room flooded with students of all nationalities seeking help, normally the day before any examination. To help them, and explain it in plain words, is a good chance for you to revise the subject.

“I firmly believe that a good grade shall come from a smart solution of time/stress management DIY. I did not have to study hard but study smart; I loved to squeeze for more personal time to socialise.”

Dr Tay graduated with first class honours in 1974 and his success continued following his return to Singapore, with a stint at the Swiss multinational SGS Singapore.

“I was the first Asian presented by SGS Geneva with a performance award (in 1988) for multi-faceted excellence in the international group of 250 affiliates in 150 countries.”

He has since established his own training, consultancy and auditing business, CCIS Singapore Pte Ltd, and founded publicity consultancy ISO Promotions Pte Ltd (now known as iPromotions Pte Ltd to include corporate branding and music management).

In recognition of the Colombo Plan’s impact on his life, Dr Tay has provided financial support for high-achieving undergraduate engineering students at Monash through the Dr CM Tay Leadership Scholarship.