Meet Alex, our Volunteer from Switzerland!

Alex with the TFM team

“It was in early 2018 when I applied for Credit Suisse’s Global Citizen Programme. Now, six months later, I am about to leave Switzerland and am heading towards Kuala Lumpur. I am definitely curious and a little nervous, but very excited about what is expecting me.” This was what Alexander Hayoz, Vice President of Credit Suisse’s Deal Structuring and Finance department, shared before he boarded his flight from Switzerland to Malaysia.

Education and banking

Choosing to volunteer in the education sphere, Alex was paired with Teach For Malaysia. Coming all the way from Switzerland to Malaysia, there were a lot of new experiences and valuable insights which Alex was able to capture within his 2 short weeks. For example, Education in Malaysia is centralised, Alex reflects, unlike in Switzerland where it is decentralised to 26 states. There is a disparity between urban and rural as well as difference in the pay scale margin within a community in Malaysia. For a relatively small country, this is a large challenge to tackle.

“I come from the banking industry. Before flying into Malaysia, I wondered why does this developing country with a good GDP need an organisation which fights education inequity like Teach For Malaysia.” Safe to say, Alex’s thoughts changed almost immediately as soon as he completed his school visit at one of our Fellows’ schools nestled away at the outskirts of Klang. Alex was surprised to see a school on stilts with a majority of 98% Chinese students. Coming from Europe which boasts many of the world’s top education systems, the visit truly was an eye opener for Alex.

Alex at the school visit

Visiting a classroom

During his school visit, Alex joined in an English lesson, taught by 2018 Fellow Eileen Pang. He saw first-hand how language mastery is a big problem among the students, even those soon set to graduate from secondary school. This challenge, Alex learnt, was in part due to the lack of racial diversity at the school. “It is so hard to teach a language which is not practised or spoken at home. It is saddening that the students don’t see the importance of language mastery as they are very much confined to the space they have been born and bred in. Now I see how necessary and impactful Teach For Malaysia is in this country.”

“I work in a universal bank, but we don’t have the diversity Malaysia has. I see people of so many different races and backgrounds living in harmony, together. Teach For Malaysia is an accurate representation of this. Everyday I walk into office and am greeted with smiles and greetings. Everyone here is so warm.”

A different perspective

These last 2 weeks have been a real change of perspective for Alex. “Through Teach For Malaysia, the work that you do towards wanting to end education inequity, I feel like a lot of my problems are minor,” Alex shared. This chance to be part of the Teach For Malaysia family, working with young, capable and amazing individuals has been one of Alex’s best experiences thus far. “That powerful motivation and collaboration, which is shared by everyone in this organisation is the force which keeps everyone going. I have not seen anyone unhappy! I will miss this very much. Now when I go back to Switzerland, I can finally say that I have experienced and lived out the famous ‘Asian smile’.”

Alex noted that Teach For Malaysia has an upper hand in the sense that most of the staff members here are young. “The younger you are, the more energy you have and the more unconventional your ideas will be. Your have amazing Trustees who are able to provide guidance and advice you on which decision is the best. This will keep everyone in check. It is this mix that makes Teach For Malaysia extraordinary,” he said.

There is no way a true Malaysian experience does not involve food. “One thing which really amuses me is the “foodie culture” everyone in and out of the office share. Every morning when I first step into the office, the first few questions will revolve around food. I have tried so many dishes I never knew existed, from Malay to Chinese to Indian. I have not had 2 similar meals in a week here!”

Alex with Datuk Yvonne Chia

An enriching experience

Summing up his 2 weeks working with Teach For Malaysia, Alex said that this has been a very interesting journey and he definitely learned a lot. He was glad that the open culture practised in Teach For Malaysia gave him a chance to share what he did with WWF for their fundraising campaign and how it can be emulated within Teach For Malaysia. “I like sharing experiences and knowledge as well as receiving. I believe that we learn more when we share. It is personally very enriching for me as I had this opportunity of working with different people of different cultures in a very different environment,” shared Alex.

We are deeply appreciative and extremely happy to have been able to “host” Alex for 2 weeks. We’ve collectively got to learn so much from Alex who is well seasoned within the financial sector. Thank you Alex, and all the best with what comes next!

Alexander Hayoz is the Vice President of Credit Suisse’s Deal Structuring and Finance department. Before joining Credit Suisse in 2006, he served as a Financial Intelligence Analyst with the Federal Office of Police (FEDPOL) of Switzerland. He also worked with the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) for 2 years where he handled fundraising campaigns involving banks and asset managers. Alex enjoys travelling in his free time and can’t wait to visit Penang!

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