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Surviving and Thriving in a Pandemic: Wellbeing in a Time of Crisis - June 2020

In June 2020, the University of London were proud to present their first digital event for alumni and friends entitled Surviving and Thriving in a Pandemic: Wellbeing in a Time Crisis.

We were thrilled to host our first digital event and welcome alumni and friends from across the ASEAN region, and around the world, to join us online for an informative and lively discussion from both the panel and the attendees alike.

The panel discussion was chaired by Peter Kopelman (President of Development, University of London; Professor of Medicine) and included insightful comments from our four panellists. Peter was joined by two alumni of the University, Kon Yin Tong (Chairman, Sport Singapore; President, Institute of Singapore Chartered Accounts (ISCA); MP, Foo Kon Tan LLP) and Asha Menon (Founder/Principal HR Consultant, AMTalent Partners). They were joined by Zee Yoong Kang (Chief Executive Office, Singapore Health Promotion Board (HPB)) and Professor Barry Smith (Director of the Institute of Philosophy, University of London).

It was an enlightening and wide-ranging discussion that included comments on how the Singapore Health Board has maintained the importance of general wellbeing in a time of great stress and illness, as well as how Sport Singapore has adapted to the circuit breaker and the impact this has had on future national events. The discussion also included points regarding the humanities’ place in the decision making of government as well as how the ‘Class of COVID-19’ should prepare for the job market in what will become a ‘new normal’.

Aside from the panel discussion there was healthy debate between attendees on the topics of conversation that were raised and our panellists were able answer questions and continue the conversation beyond the presentation. To view the event video with the Q&A chat box, please visit our event platform. Please note, you will be asked to log into the platform in order to access the event.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable event and it was a pleasure to see so many of our alumni community online with us.

Watch the full panel discussion, Surviving and Thriving in a Pandemic
Watch the full panel discussion

Event speakers

Professor Peter Kopelman
President of Development, University of London; Professor of Medicine


Professor Peter Kopelman is President of Development at the University of London and Professor of Medicine. He was previously Vice-Chancellor of the University of London (2018-2019). Prior to this, he was Vice-Principal, Queen Mary, University of London (2001-2006); Dean of the Faculty of Health, University of East Anglia (2006-2008); and Principal of St George’s, University of London (2008-2015). Peter is active in university leadership and management, as well as health policy, education and research. He has been chair or deputy chair of national and international university and NHS committees. He is a member of NHS national policy and workforce committees and is presently Chair of the UK Pharmacy Education Governance Board, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society Education and Standards Committee, and Health Education England’s Oversight Board for Medical Associate Professionals. He is a member of the UK Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration. Peter has a long-standing interest in diabetes care, nutrition and obesity, with a major research interest in obesity; he was Science Advisor to the Government Office of Science and Innovations Foresight Obesity Project (2005-2009).

Zee Yoong Kang
Chief Executive Officer, Singapore Health Promotion Board (HPB)


Zee Yoong Kang is the Chief Executive Officer of Singapore’s Health Promotion Board (HPB). Established in 2001, HPB’s mission is to help Singaporeans increase the quality and years of healthy life and to prevent illness, disability and premature death. Zee Yoong Kang has served in various capacities in Singapore Government (Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of National Development). He also worked for a period in the private sector, where he was with Bain & Company subsequently as a management consultant, working on projects in the Heavy Engineering, IT and Fast-Moving Consumer Goods sectors. After Bain, Zee joined Singapore’s National Trades Union Congress, where he founded NTUC LearningHub and the Employment & Employability Institute, also known as e2i.

Kon Yin Tong
Chairman, Sport Singapore; President, Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA); MP, Foo Kon Tan LLP


Yin Tong graduated with first class honours from the University of London (London School of Economics). An accountant by profession, he is responsible for the overall strategy and stewardship of Foo Kon Tan LLP. His areas of practice include litigation support. He has given expert evidence overseas including in the UK High Court. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA) and a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. He has won numerous awards including the ISCA Gold Medal Award 2011 and ISCA Outstanding Practitioner Award 2016. His past roles include President of the ASEAN Federation of Accountants and Chair of the Singapore Institute of Accredited Tax Professionals. He is also a qualified rugby coach.

Asha Menon
Founder and Principal HR Consultant, AMTalent Partners


Asha Menon is the Founder and Principal HR Consultant of AMTalent Partners, an independent Talent Resources and Industrial Relations consultancy. Her aim is to provide a complete range of services to a broad region by executing her knowledge acquired through 17 years of hands-on practice and experience across various industries in Asia Pacific, serving in senior roles. She deploys concepts from serial learning and best industry practice by implementing integrated plans to ensure accelerated productivity, synergy towards employee engagement and wellbeing, and alignment of HR systems to that of organisational goals. Asha is also an active player in the space of Design Thinking, Agile Manifestos, Thought Leadership Development, Redefining Diversity and Inclusion through belonging and acceptance, as well as an avid personal growth evangelist.

Professor Barry Smith
Director of the Institute of Philosophy, University of London


Barry C Smith is a Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Institute of Philosophy at the University of London’s School of Advanced Study. He is also the founding director of its Centre for the Study of the Senses, which pioneers collaborative research links between philosophers, psychologists and neuroscientists. Barry works on the multisensory nature of perception, and on taste, smell and flavour. He has published theoretical and experimental papers, writing in Nature, Food Quality and Preference, Flavour and Chemical Senses and is the editor of Questions of Taste: the philosophy of wine, Oxford University Press 2007. He collaborates with artists and chefs and has recently been the UK lead for a global consortium of clinicians and sensory scientists researching the link between COVID-19 and loss of taste and smell. Barry is a frequent broadcaster. In 2017, he wrote and presented a ten-part series for the BBC Radio 4 called The Uncommon Senses, and in 2019, he wrote and presented a five-part series on the Art and Science of Blending.