Fight Club

Vivian Lim: I Learnt To Re-Evaluate My Role And Purpose As A Community Builder

“What else can I do to create a greater impact in a post-Covid future?” asks the lead curator of TEDxSingapore.

Vivian Lim: I Learnt To Re-Evaluate My Role And Purpose As A Community Builder

As Singapore tries to steer itself into the post-Covid future (amid new clusters that included a workers’ dormitory) what everyone wants to know now is, what’s next? And with “To Boldly ____”, which featured thought leaders and changemakers sharing their own experiences in breaking barriers and embracing change, Vivian Lim and her team at TEDxSingapore turned the question on us: What would you boldly do?

Curtains have closed on the event but Lim, who was among those selected for the 2019 Obama Foundation Leaders: Asia-Pacific programme, is expanding on the theme of community interaction through TEDxStudios. By coordinating an inaugural pilot with other cities in Southeast Asia such as Bangkok and Jakarta, she hopes to more closely connect the communities in Singapore and the region.              

How has Covid-19 changed the way you reach out to your audiences in Singapore?  

People were attracted to multidisciplinary topics and ideas that could change our world, for example, how technology can improve artistic expression. Now the focus has shifted to what we can do now to impact our community. During circuit breaker, we hosted virtual conversations with the community, and even had our TEDx partner from China share about her experiences. We thought it’d offer lessons for people in Singapore. Our team at TEDxSingapore wanted to go beyond talking and sharing, and rally the community to help others. So we organised a donation drive to source for essentials such as bar soap and hand sanitiser for migrant workers. 

TEDxSingapore themed its first virtual community event in March, “To Boldly ____”. What was the response like?   

It was very positive! Participants were encouraged to host their own TEDx watch parties and invite their friends and family (adhering to safe management measures) for the event. Some of the audience were primary school students! We also took a few bold steps while putting together this stellar line-up of speakers led by distinguished architect Dr Liu Thai Ker… How did we convince him to do this? Persistence always pays [laughs]. And to have him speak after Seng Ing Le, the 15-year-old co-inventor of the Qanemate walking stick holder, made for an interesting contrast that provoked conversations among the audience.   

Is boldness very much part of your leadership style? 

I am bolder, and stronger, because of my community at TEDxSingapore. Many of them are volunteers (we have a core team of 15) who have been with us for more than a decade. Pushing through difficulties becomes more worthwhile because of their trust and support. I learnt to re-evaluate my role and purpose as a community builder: What else can I do to create a greater impact in a post-Covid future? I’m also stronger as a leader by doing groundwork and seeing the different facets of the community. For instance, some families enjoyed WFH while others didn’t. And to close these gaps, it’s important to enable and empower people who want to do something good for others.     

Photography by Darren Gabriel Leow; grooming by Angel Gwee using Chanel Beauty & Davines