By the SMU Social Media Team
Bryan Tay became an entrepreneur in his first year of university, and his desire to start his own business had a big influence on why he decided on SMU.
The Raffles Institution graduate is the founder of professional services company Fenston Lewitt. “Today, we primarily engage in management consulting and financial planning and analysis (FP&A),” he says. “I absolutely love the work we do—it’s genuinely inspiring to partner with incredibly passionate people, whose organisations are creating positive impact in the world.”
With his professional future already in progress, Bryan was drawn to SMU because of the University’s reputation for “staying ahead of industry trends and moulding graduates who are both industry- and future-ready”, he says. We catch up with him to find out how this freshman is balancing his double degree in Accountancy and Information Systems, internships with OCBC, as well as his continued quest to scale his business.
You are the founder of Fenston Lewitt, a professional services company. How did you become an entrepreneur?
I was a part of the Integrated Programme at Raffles Institution, where there was a huge focus on holistic education. A particularly enriching experience I had was a year-long programme titled Business@School, led by consultants from the Boston Consulting Group.
Having been involved in roles such as financial reporting, strategy, as well as corporate and non-profit financing, I noticed that many clients were seeking a one-stop partner who could deliver a reliable suite of solutions. I decided to explore this opportunity.
Setting up Fenston Lewitt was very much a natural extension of the work I had been engaged in—it is a means to scale and expand. Today, we primarily engage in management consulting and FP&A. One of our ongoing projects is to develop a market entry strategy for a regional technology, media and telecommunications firm that intends to extend its reach into two new continents, while partnering their corporate finance team in preparing for the next round of equity financing. I absolutely love the work we do—it’s genuinely inspiring to partner with incredibly passionate people, whose organisations are creating positive impact in the world.
Why did you choose to apply to SMU, and choose a double degree in Accountancy and Information Systems?
There is an increasing focus on interdisciplinary studies—having knowledge and appreciation of subject matters beyond your specialisation. That being said, you can’t be a jack of all trades and a master of none. The ideal situation is to be a master of several trades and effectively integrate them. I found that SMU was doing a great job of staying ahead of industry trends. This helps to mould graduates who are both industry- and future-ready.
I’ve always found financial reporting standards fascinating. And what better way to appreciate all these subtle nuances than to pursue a degree in accountancy? As for the information systems degree, virtually every industry we can imagine is being disrupted by technology. I believe that the skills I acquire in coding, data analytics, web infrastructure, and so on, will be invaluable even if I don’t go into a tech role.
What has your learning experience been like so far, and how has that impacted your business?
I love the fact that there are no lectures. Lectures are frankly a really obsolete way of learning. The true learning comes in settings where educators and students can interact. Having all the lessons conducted in the seminar style at SMU really facilitates understanding, and allows for everyone to build upon the knowledge and value of every person in the room.
The supportive culture of SMU faculty members and staff are the biggest contributors to the entrepreneurial efforts of students. In my experience, they not only offer valuable advice based on their wealth of experience, but also play an active role in spurring growth efforts by means of introductions and link-ups with relevant partners. I’m incredibly grateful and honoured to have the support of the school.
What internship have you taken up, and how has that shaped your learning experience?
Last year, I took part in an internship in international enterprise banking at OCBC. It was a fulfilling experience. I developed a better understanding of the role of the bank in corporate financing, available financial products and, more importantly, the ways a bank can help its clients grow their businesses. I had the opportunity to deliver a series of English and Chinese pitch decks, which have since been adopted as the official decks of the Bank. It’s definitely a huge motivation to know that the work you’ve done has been put to use!
This year, I look forward to joining OCBC once again as an intern, this time in enterprise banking strategy for the ASEAN and Greater China regions. I’m sure it will be a meaningful learning experience and I’m excited to contribute to the Group’s continued success.
Bryan with his ASOC Freshman Camp mates
How do you think freshman year has changed you as a person?
Before I entered SMU, I envisioned myself exploring new fields, going out of my comfort zone, and creating lasting memories with friends. I wanted university life to be a journey of self-exploration. Moving forward, I’m more motivated than ever to continue discovering myself and developing my capabilities and skillsets. I can’t wait to see where this takes me!
What advice would you share for students who are considering applying for a place at SMU, and for making the most of freshman year?
Talk to as many people as you can so you can hear different perspectives. Consider the tangible aspects of what SMU offers—the network, the support to pursue your dreams in any domain, the preparation to be industry- and future-ready, etc. And think about what you intend to get out of your university life! There’s no one-size-fits-all option, so consider the advantages and trade-offs carefully and enjoy the process while it lasts. It’s the start of something new, and you should be really excited!
For those embarking on their freshman year, don’t be afraid to pursue opportunities. You’re never ‘too young’ or ‘too inexperienced’. Everyone’s got to start somewhere, so why not start now? Stay positive, work hard, and always learn as much as you can.
Keen to take the next step with SMU? Learn more about our Bachelor of Accountancy programme today.