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Coming Full Circle

Published on 17 July 2019

Lim Kexin, a tax director at PwC, recently became the first SMU graduate to be a member of the University’s Board of Trustees

To say Lim Kexin is an over-achiever is an understatement.

In 2005, Kexin graduated as SMU’s first female valedictorian with a Bachelor of Accountancy and major in Law (summa cum laude) on dual scholarships. Multiple award winning, this alumna of the School of Accountancy’s (SOA) pioneer cohort scored another first earlier this year. In 2019, Kexin became the first SMU graduate to be appointed by the Ministry of Education on the University’s Board of Trustees (BoT).


Kexin joined PwC immediately after graduating and has worked there, ever since. Citing PwC’s sustainability and climate change practice and PwC’s corporate responsibility initiatives in Singapore, Kexin shared how she is proud to have pursued her career in an organisation that makes a difference in society in line with her personal values.

Now a tax director at PwC, Kexin said: “To come full circle and be appointed SMU Trustee at this young age among giants, is both a great honour and humbling responsibility. This appointment provides me with a new platform to contribute to the strategy and governance of an institution I hold dear.”

Over the past 14 years, Kexin has juggled her dynamic tax advisory career in Singapore, London and Jakarta (where she volunteered to be based for 3½ years) with diverse community interests. She has nonetheless remained actively engaged with SMU.

It’s this “combination of experiences that I hope will provide a unique ‘insider-outsider’ perspective to the BoT – close enough to offer real-life insights, while objective enough to provide balanced views. As a living product of SMU’s hopes and vision, I look forward to being testimony and steward of the CIRCLE values we stand for and be a voice for the broader SMU community,” she added.

A Natural Step

This is hardly something new for Kexin, as she was part of the SMU Ambassadorial Corps (ASMU) student group as an undergraduate.

Kexin with fellow SMU alumni during the University’s 15th anniversary celebrations.

For Kexin, the ASMU was “an important external relations platform to represent the breadth and depth of the University to senior stakeholders, front public events and partake in media interviews.” ASMU enriched her university experience with opportunities like attending the prestigious St Gallen Symposium in Switzerland, honed the (self-proclaimed) introvert’s ability to interact with people from all walks of life and provided her with the close-knit ASMU community she considers family till today.

These soft skills learnt have proven invaluable when it comes to forging her career, said Kexin. For example, “the pursuit of excellence at SMU was often a team effort as we navigated its myriad of projects and courses. I learnt that there is a time to lead, a time to step back and a time to listen. Success is about the team’s win and not just personal glory. These lessons ring true every day in the workplace and community”, she recalled.

A Dedication to Volunteering

Despite her busy schedule, Kexin has made it her life-long commitment to give back. She started when she was 17 and has not looked back since.

Be it setting up and chairing the SoA Alumni Advisory Board, serving on the government National Youth Council, being appointed youngest-ever council member of the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants, representing Singapore internationally, mentoring, fundraising for natural disasters or painting murals in rural schools, no task is too big or small. Each too, brings its own learning and growth.

Explained Kexin: “Volunteering with needy families reminds me of the need to count my blessings, even on the most challenging days. Serving as Singapore delegation head for the inaugural Singapore-Indonesia Youth Leadership Exchange Programme made me reflect further on the cross-border issues and interconnectivity between our countries. Advocating for social issues trains me to consider competing perspectives and weigh measured responses.”

Asked about her best memory from volunteering, Kexin vividly recalls an encounter with a young student and his sobbing, ill mother in the community years ago. “The teenager was on the verge of being expelled from polytechnic due to poor grades, and constantly falling asleep in class. After much cajoling, the young man finally shared that his exhaustion was from working late nights to help struggling family finances without his mother’s knowledge. Fortunately, the polytechnic ceded to our Meet-the-People session appeals and gave him a chance to complete his studies. Today, seeing his life updates on social media still puts a smile on my face and reminds me how we can all make a difference.”

Living life to the fullest

Ultimately, Kexin’s life philosophy is simple: “No one has one minute more or one minute less than 24 hours. The difference lies in how we treasure every moment. I choose to live life to the fullest, while remembering to breathe and find balance in everything I do. Only then, will I be able to chase my dreams, reach for the stars and stay rooted while contributing to SMU and beyond.”

Kexin (centre) at the SMU Mentoring Circle event – Odyssey in February 2019 where she was a speaker.

See also: Lim Kexin is first alumna to be appointed on SMU’s Board of Trustees.

Related Topics:  SMU Leaders  Sustainability  Excellence