SINGAPORE - The design of lift buttons fascinated him as a child. But that interest in design faded and in his teens he was at a loss as to what he wanted to do with his life.
A diploma course in visual communication at Temasek Polytechnic (TP) revived that creative spark and changed his life.
Now, Mr Pann Lim, 40, is an award-winning advertising industry veteran.
Wanting to give back to the poly that helped shape his life, he is now an adjunct lecturer there.
The creative director of Kinetic Design and Advertising will also be speaking at The New Paper/Temasek Polytechnic Beyond O Level Seminar on Jan 11 at the polytechnic. (See report above.)
Last year, Kinetic Design and Advertising, the firm which he co-founded, was the joint winner of the Singapore Creative Circle Awards 2013 Agency of the Year, with a grand haul of 36 medals. Mr Lim was also awarded the President's Design Award last month.
Mr Lim spoke about his "lost" days.
After his O levels at Tanjong Katong Technical, he enrolled in a three-year pre-university course. He found the pace too slow. He retook his O levels and qualified for a junior college.
He went on to take his A levels but did badly. "Like most Singaporean students, I didn't know what I wanted to do at that time. I didn't know my options to make an informed choice," he said.
"I was in NS (national service) and wondering where I could go to next when a friend from my art class in JC told me about the visual communication course.
"I was so excited that I signed up and went for an aptitude test although I was two years away from ORD (operationally ready date)," he recalled.
When he started the course, he felt for the first time that he was "connected" to what he was learning.
Now, Mr Lim hopes to inspire a new generation of designers and help point them in the right direction.
"I feel that education should not be exclusive, and it should be shared," he said.
"I enjoy the satisfaction of seeing the look of understanding in a student's eyes."
TP also changed his life in another way, which is why it holds a special place in his heart.
He met his wife Claire there when they were both students.
They have two children, aged 10 and seven.
The family of four is part of an art collective, holycrap.sg, and have displayed their works at three annual exhibitions so far.
"With my children, I'm always trying to instil values such as discipline by making sure that they complete the work that they start. It is the same concept with my students," he said.
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