Ee Ling Lim, CEO – Smarter Me Pte. Ltd.
Ee Ling Lim was an Investment Banker for almost 10 years. She joined CIMB Investment Bank in Kuala Lumpur fresh out of university, and it was likely her time with the Group Strategy team as CIMB was buying banks in Indonesia, China and Thailand, that sealed her love for corporate finance and strategy. She always had the desire to work abroad, and so few years later, she moved to Singapore and joined Bank of America Merrill Lynch. She is the CEO of Smarter Me, an education platform whose purpose is to inspire kids to discover, grow and live their passion. They’re on a mission to make education more relevant, applicable and accessible – equipping them with essential tech skills and 21C skills.
“Growing up, I was a straight as student, probably due to the indirect pressure of being the child of a teacher, and earned scholarships to obtain my Diploma in Business from HELP University College in Malaysia and a Bachelor of Finance from the University of Queensland, Australia. I love books and art, and also always had a knack for organizing events – ranging from my high school prom, to class trips, to company team offsites. I think I attained fulfillment in bringing ideas to life, and derive joy from seeing people being happy at an event organized by me,” Lim added. Read below to know more about Ee Ling Lim and SmarterMe.
What led you to the path of entrepreneurship?
Investment banking was exciting and challenging, and I wouldn’t be what I am today without the experiences and the skills gained there, but I had reached a point in life where I question myself, what was my purpose of being here, in this world! I was in the business of advising corporate clients, but I didn’t feel like I was making any real positive impact to humanity.
So in late 2016, I took a leap of faith to leave investment banking to start Smarter Me. I’ve always had a passion for education – having taught kids art and craft and in a religious school – and I saw the gap in learning – what kids are learning today (which really has not changed much from what we went through, despite the vastly different world we live in today) and what they need to be successful in their future world.
Tell us more about “Smarter Me” and its growth.
SmarterMe was founded because we want to inspire children to discover, grow and live their passion. We started out in 2017 as an online platform to connect parents with curate, quality instructors, and ran discovery-themed holiday camps, enabling children to be exposed to various exciting and interesting learning opportunities, such as coding, race car engineering, money matters, and illustration. This year, we are focused on delivering education which are relevant, applicable and forward-looking. We are launching a series of live video classes in Coding, Robotics, Entrepreneurship and Design Thinking for children ages 9 and up and teens.
What sets our courses apart is Our corporate partnerships, where a real-world challenge is issued to students, requiring them to apply their knowledge to come up with proposed solutions; and our holistic approach of integrating self-actualization and happiness into the lessons plan. We see these personal mastery skills as vital and shouldn’t be something we learn only when we are adults.
Smarter Me’s vision is to be a school with forward-looking curriculum that equips kids with 21st century skill set, mindset and heart set, to define and achieve their own success and happiness in the future world. My goal is to empower and future-proof 1 million children in South East Asia by 2020.
Who has been your biggest motivation and why?
My two daughters have been the motivation for me. In this rapidly advancing and evolving world, our kids are as lost as ever. I’d hate for them to go through the motions, hitting the university and first job milestones and still be lost in their 20s, because they’ve not learnt the skill set and developed the mindset and heart set to be adaptable, resilient, and knowing their purpose. That is what we are trying to bring to children, through Smarter Me.
They’ve been extremely involved in Smarter Me, from giving design inputs to testing our curriculum, and that motivates me even more because I know they are already feeling empowered and believing that they too, can be creators.
If you were to change/relive any one moment, what would that be?
Cliché but there’s none. I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason and all that I’ve been through only serves to make me who I am today, especially my days in banking where I benefited from mentors and honed my analytical and communication skills.
What is that one milestone in your life that makes you happy?
I love that you ask this, because happiness has been my focus from 6 months back. I’ve been keeping a daily gratitude journal and consciously doing more of what makes me happy, which can range from being efficient at work, having quality conversations with my family, listening to inspirational podcasts, to reading more books and gleaning more knowledge.
It’s not a single milestone, but probably my decision to make a conscious effort to develop myself, that is contributing to my happiness. That being said, I’m still very much a work in progress!
What would you like to achieve in the next coming years?
I want to inspire and empower children globally. Through Smarter Me, I want to provide more kids with access to future-proof education, and give them the power to discover themselves, and to be creators rather than just consumers.