The Happiness Doctor  

It would not be far-fetched to call Associate Professor Siok Tambyah the “happiness doctor”. She does research about happiness and wellbeing and even teaches a course called ‘The Pursuit of Happiness’. In real life, she is happiest when exploring new ideas and places, as well as spending time with family and friends.

She is the go-to person by the media for matters relating to the Singaporean psyche, having co-written several books bearing titles such as “Happiness and Wellbeing: The Singaporean Experience” and “Understanding Singaporeans: Values, Lifestyles, Aspirations and Consumption Behaviors”.  Her other research interests include consumer culture, ethnicity, gender and cross-cultural consumer behaviour.

Assoc Prof Tambyah obtained her bachelor’s degree from the NUS Business School, her PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and then returned to teach at her alma mater. We asked her about life then and now…

How long have you been with the Business School?

A long time — I get a kick out of telling my students that I was once a BBA Marketing Major just like them!  I joined NUS as a senior tutor in 1992, went away for graduate studies during 1993-1999 and started formal teaching in August 1999.

Some of my favourite memories here include having lunch at the Business School canteen with my friends, first as an undergraduate (now, with colleagues), and pottering around the Hon Sui Sen Memorial Library before the advent of digital library resources.

Honors Year Classmates

With Honours Year classmates in 1988 outside the Honours Room in BIZ 2 (from left to right): Pang Kiah Jee, Tong Pik Yi, Sum Yim Ling, Christine Goh Lee Eng, me, Leong Sow Fung (standing), Philip Lim Wei Tong and Mark Chan Boon Kiong.

If I were a student again…

I would probably not have made it to the NUS Business School because I am not a straight-A student!  It’s getting more competitive nowadays and I think many undergraduate students are just trying to keep up with their classes. I am not sure how much they are learning though, and whether they are enjoying their time at the university.

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