December 2016 – Mission to Serve (SPNM Reflections)

December 2016 – Mission to Serve (SPNM Reflections)

Aspired by many, and offered to only a few, Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management (SPNM) is an executive program by Harvard Business School dedicated to gathering the brightest sparks in the realm of non-profits globally.



Geared for sustainability and growth, this year, four representatives from Singapore shared the experience with like-minded 161 non-profit leaders from 22 countries all over the world to better their leadership skills, glean new perspectives and enhance the effectiveness of their organizations.

As part of a series, we hear from the first of these scholars, Dr Goh Wei Leong, Chairman & Co-Founder, Healthserve, a PVPA 2015 NPO winner, on his reflections on the programme.


“Going back to school this summer has been one of the most significant weeks in my life. The week was enriching, awesome, humbling and inspiring all at the same time. I was surrounded by deeply committed people of passion and competence.

It gave me an amazingly fresh and challenging management perspective as Healthserve reaches its milestone of being a decade-old where we seek to better the lives of vulnerable low wage migrant workers, while operating in an ever changing landscape of global migration, government policies, global economy and also ambiguous local sentiments.

Exploring the topic on strategic alignment gave me an opportunity to put on new lenses to rethink and reflect on our mission and strategy, and this quote came to mind, “The most common form of human stupidity is forgetting what we are trying to do”.

How does an organization that seems to be doing well avoid mission creep like saying yes to anything close to mission, at the same time high in support and low in capacity? How do we develop and execute strategy? Should we keep it safe and manageable? How do we move it both creatively and strategically forward?



    One of the initiatives which I hope to implement is a 4-step process of re-examining the areas of the mission statement, the operational mission, the strategy platform and finally our choice of programs and at the same time ensuring its scalability in the light of our very dynamic context."



Our future also depends on the direction we decide to take and further engage in the areas of social enterprise, corporate engagement, board governance and philanthropy. And as we decide what pathways we are to take to deliver our mission – we’ll also need to be mindful to explore moving beyond measuring activities and output to measuring outcomes and impact.

On the last day of the conference, I was sitting at a perfectly manicured lawn, idyllically amongst the group that I was assigned to surrounded by leaders hailing from Hong Kong, Germany, UK, and USA.

It left me feeling inspired yet wistful. The tension of opposites. SPNM is perhaps where the global visionaries and social entrepreneurs meet and exchange ideas away from the struggling masses of the world.

Grounded in reality and armed by resolve, it made me realise that this is exactly what the non-profit sector seeks to bridge, as we strive to build an environment that flourishes for all.”



Dr Goh is one of two recipients of a sponsored scholarship to attend the SPNM programme. In support of PVPA organized by the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and Harvard Singapore Foundation sponsored two scholarships (worth $10,000) for senior executives in the Non-Profit sector for 2015. CNPL, a part of NVPC, also provides various programmes and beneficiary engagement to help the non-profit sector create a leadership pipeline and build effective boards.

To find out more about CNPL’s programmes, contact [email protected] or call 6550 9595.