Alex Au-Yong, programme manager of YTL Foundation, on going the extra mile
Whether it is with running or the work he does with YTL Foundation, Alex Au-Yong believes in contributing in any manner he can by just going that little bit further than the last person.
Professionally, Alex Au-Yong introduces himself as the Programme Manager of YTL Foundation. His crisp collar shirt and pressed black slacks match his title and accolade perfectly.
Outside of his day job, however, Au-Yong has another name that he is almost synonymous with since 2011 – the XtraMiler.
“As the name suggests, it’s about going the extra mile in whatever you do, and how you can add value and bring betterment to a cause with your passion,” says Au-Yong.
The name was coined when the avid marathoner embarked on a 100km ultramarathon run to raise funds for charity. He did it not once, but twice, the first time to raise funds for stART Society, and the second, for the Dignity for Children Foundation. Both times he raised more than RM100,000 for each charity body by taking on the roads.
“I love running,” shares Au-Yong, “So I just thought to myself, what else can I do with this passion to further help others?”
Au-Yong’s passion for giving back stems with his belief that one’s purpose is always to be the catalyst for the change you want to see within your community.
“I always believe that everything is about stewardship, whether it’s with running or what I do with YTL Foundation,” he tells.
He first saw its great effects when he spent a short while at stART Society, an organisation that provides children of lesser privilege with the seed of opportunity through art.
With his background in graphic design, he volunteered at the foundation to teach art to the children in hopes of helping them express themselves where they found difficult and instil the seed of confidence where it was barren.
“Sometimes these children just need a little guidance to realise their full potential and it was nice knowing what little time I spent with them helped,” he confides.
Upon quitting his job of 12 years in advertising, his calling was answered when he chanced upon the job opening at YTL Foundation.
“Like me, YTL is a brand that believes in education,” he says. “I take the model of XtraMile and apply it in my job with YTL Foundation.”
The foundation, directed by Datin Kathleen Chew, works to empower society through education. It does so by giving out scholarships, allocating funds to schools in need as well as setting up Internet facilities in lower band schools that may not be able to afford it. It also consistently gives out Chromebooks and other digital teaching facilities to help teachers teach better.
“My job is to look into which schools to allocate these funds,” shares Au-Yong further. “The foundation gives me an opportunity to go to schools and create initiatives for positive change."
Within the Foundation, Au-Yong hasn’t only found a job to pay the bills, he has found one that sits in line with his personal values.
”It’s perfect because when I was looking for a job, I wanted to work more with the community and in something where I can contribute,” he says.
These days, when he isn’t running, he’ll be dashing from school to school trying to ensure as many Chromebooks reach the hands of as many teachers as possible, whom he hopes will use them to mould the minds of our future.
“Life is so uncertain – I don’t know how long I will be working with YTL Foundation,” he confides, “but so long as I am here and so long as it is within my ability, I will try to better as many lives out there as as I can.”
“With the XtraMile, it was me taking what I was good at – running – and raising money with it. When it was doing design with stART, it was to teach kids about their identity. With YTL Foundation, I hope to contribute as much as I can as well.”
At every opportunity, Au-Yong believes in going the extra mile and doing just that little bit more than the last person did.
“For me, it’s simple,” he shares as a last note. “It’s taking what I already have and know and using it to do more for others.”
For more information on YTL Foundation and what it does, log on to the official website here.