If there is one thing that helps candidates stand out in the Student of the Year Awards, it's attitude. Basically, that means having the courage and confidence to take on new challenges. It also means having the determination to overcome obstacles and make the most of your talents.
It isn't always easy. But three members of this year's advisory panel prove that the right mindset and approach, along with other individual qualities, can make all the difference.
"Whenever I talk to students, my message is to be positive at all times. And you need to know your own strengths and weaknesses," says executive council member Bernard Chan, who over the years has encountered ups and downs in both his professional and personal life. "You never know how things will turn out, but you should be ready to make the best of every situation and realise that some setbacks can end up being a blessing in disguise."
Early in his career, Chan used to worry that having an undergraduate degree in studio art put him at a disadvantage when discussing business matters with people who had studied management and finance. He soon realised though, that this was no cause for self-doubt. By having something others didn't, he was able to offer different perspectives when looking at business problems. And he could offer a more creative way of thinking when planning new directions.
"I'm not really a details or numbers guy, but I am a fast learner and I'm good at putting myself in other people's shoes," Chan says. "My skills are more on the creative side: looking for new angles, building new relationships with clients and, when necessary, finding common ground and coming to some sort of compromise. I have also learned that, even when things aren't going your way, it is important to stay positive. Try to see the glass as half-full, not half-empty."
Chan also tells students to be proactive when dealing with changes, and to accept that the world is a competitive place. That makes it essential to keep learning and adapting, to show flexibility, and to remember that values like honesty and reliability will never go out of style.
According to former Chief Secretary Sir David Akers-Jones, young people should make it a priority to seize opportunities to gain lots of experience during their student years and beyond.
"Be open to everything and, when you start working, don't worry too much about the salary, provided you have enough to live on," he says. "I didn't plan my life, but when doors were opened, I went through. Also, I was an optimist, who accepted what I was asked to do, but also enjoyed doing it."
The general advice from Allan Zeman, who took on his first part-time job at the age of 10, is that candidates for the Student of the Year Awards should set no limits to their own potential.
"They should be aiming to excel in everything they do and to achieve all their dreams," he says.
On a practical note, he suggests that, if conflict occurs, it must be dealt with, not ignored or avoided.
"I always try to understand the other person's point of view and be open-minded about who is right or wrong," he says. "Sometimes, that means adjusting my thinking if I feel they have a valid point or a better way of getting things done."
A renowned entrepreneur in his own right, Zeman has particular respect for the likes of Steve Jobs whose work has done so much to transform lives around the world through technology and connectivity.
"The digital age is now upon us and it is already causing 'positive disruption' in every industry," Zeman says. "In the long run, I believe that, as a result of these changes, the world will be more efficient, better connected, and offer all kinds of new opportunities."