His experience in the education sector made him a respected authority on students' needs and aspirations. Mr David Teo, 71, Managing Director of education consultancy CMS, is a trained graduate teacher.
His interest in education consultancy started 50 years ago, when he was a secondary and pre-university teacher in St Patrick's Secondary School. He was then their first graduate teacher.
He found himself deeply involved in providing career assistance to graduating students under his charge.
That interest was further sharpened when he spent 10 years with The Straits Times Group (the predecessor of Singapore Press Holdings) as an editor in its education publications division.
Mr Teo, who has been in the education consultancy business since 1978, said at his office in Enggor Street: "Principals used to tell me their concerns about how their students would fare after they finished school, as they would have to fend for themselves and could not always depend on someone else to help them.
"I realised that there was a need for an education consultancy service to provide help for graduating students who are unsure of their strengths and how they can use this to their advantage, and also where they can further their studies."
Mr Teo counsels about 300 students every year and helps them decide on the best way to fulfil their career aspirations. He advises every student he helps to purchase an Overseas Student Assist Insurance Policy before they further their studies abroad.
He said: "It costs about a dollar a day, and it safeguards you as a student, in case any accident or incident happens to you while you are overseas."
Mr Teo's clients comprise a mix of international and local students, and many of them have been referred to him via word-of-mouth.
He said: "We're one of the oldest, if not the oldest, education consultancy service in Singapore. I tell students what their parents sometimes cannot bear to tell them, and help them find the most appropriate path to fulfil their aspirations."
Mr Teo's networks allow him to give specialised help when it is needed.
"Some of my clients include politicians, lawyers, medical specialists and other professionals. I interact with them closely and pick up medical, legal and other useful information from them through our chit-chats.
"When students ask for my help regarding medical or legal studies abroad, I am able to tell them about the latest medical and legal developments which I learnt from my clients. Likewise with accountancy, business, engineering etc.
"This specialised knowledge gives me an edge when I counsel potential students," he said.
Mr Teo regularly updates his team members with new information sent to him by the various institutions about their entry requirements. He regularly attends Agents Awareness Week organised by the various universities he represents.
The team is also up to date with local academic courses, including the GCE O and A levels, polytechnic and private diplomas and the International Baccalaureate.
Counselling services and the processing of applications to most universities, as well as all follow-up work including visa assistance, are provided free. Mr Teo said that he provides continuous service to students through their years at the university and after. "My door is always open and my students are free to contact me any time they encounter problems during the course of their studies, even after they have graduated. "Our students' interests are our priority."
At their service
Some of the services Mr Teo has provided over the years include:
- Several years ago, a mother approached him for help in advising her daughter as she did not know what her daughter was really interested in.
Mr Teo said: "After talking to her, I told her mother that her daughter was good in communication. If she was agreeable, I said I would help get her daughter a place in a university which had courses in the field of communication.
"The mother agreed, and I helped her daughter to get into Murdoch University in Australia. She has since graduated and is now holding a senior position with CNN in Hong Kong."
- Mr Teo listed several instances where he helped students who had overstayed their visas due to the pressure of work. He filed appeals for the restoration of their student visas.
- One of Mr Teo's clients who was studying in Australia had relationship problems.
He said: "She became depressed and her studies suffered.
She was asked by the university to show cause for why she should not be excluded from further studies due to her bad performance. She sought my help to file an appeal.
"After understanding the background of how she did badly, I appealed to the university to give her a chance of completing her degree. I provided them with the actual cause of her poor performance. I told her that I would only do this if she promised to seek medical help for her depression."
Address: 15 Enggor Street, #07-01 Realty Centre, Singapore 079716
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