Secrets to Success

Lee Kai Yang Deloitte Student Ambassador Deloitte Inspire Award Winner 2016 Summer Intern 2016 & 2017 Singapore Management University

My water polo journey

I’ve played the sport for 11 years now, and it’s still as challenging as ever. It’s arguably the toughest sport around and that has definitely challenged me to push beyond my limits. When people ask me what it’s like to play water polo, I reply it’s like trying to play basketball, wrestling and soccer (yes, footwork is a huge part of the game too) all at once, while making sure you don’t drown. It’s a common misconception that water polo is played standing on the pool floor, when in reality it is actually against the rules and virtually impossible to stand while playing the game. 

I was first introduced to water polo at the age of 11. My brother, who was 13 years old then, had just joined the water polo team in our school, Raffles Institution. I never thought I would join the same sport, as I did not want to be seen as merely following in my brother’s footsteps. However, as fate would have it, I ended up in the same secondary school as my brother and was egged on by my mother to join the trial session.

During the trial, I had a tremendous amount of fun and that got me interested in the sport. In the end, I was lucky enough to be invited to join the CCA and the interest slowly grew, and with that, so did my love for the sport.

Since then, I have competed in various tournament. In 2011, I represented Singapore at the Youth level for the very first time, and got my first call up into the Senior Squad.

My most memorable school water polo experience to date has to be the final tournament with my school team back in 2012.

During the finals of that competition, my team was able to come back from a 1-goal deficit in the last 5 seconds of that game, to tie the match, forcing the game into a penalty shoot-out and we went on to finally win the game. It was a bittersweet moment for all of us as it was my batch’s first and last team championship in the 6 years of training together.

Another unforgettable experience I had was the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore: that experience definitely holds a special place in my heart. It is the dream of every Singaporean water polo player to represent the country at the SEA Games and to continue the winning legacy of the champions since 1965.

Furthermore, the Games was held in Singapore and I had the support of all my family members, friends, as well as fellow Singaporean supporters watching us live and cheering us on, it was truly an exhilarating experience indeed. When the final whistle blew to signal the end of the final match, the stands erupted in a thunderous cheer. It was so loud that I could not even hear myself shouting in pure joy.

Winning tournaments is just one of the many reasons why I love the sport but there’s more to being on the National Team than just competing. Being part of the National Team is an experience like no other, and a huge part of what I love most is the time spent together with my fellow team mates.

My team seniors have shown me that no matter how tough it is to balance school, work and training, it can be achieved if you have a positive mindset. Also, it is equally important to stay focused, disciplined and discerning enough to abstain from anything that is detrimental to your performance both in and out of the pool.

During training, my current teammates push me to give my all at every session no matter the circumstances. Despite leading separate lives outside of the pool, we all share a common goal – to try our very best.

Every single team mate of mine has been an inspiration to me, as everyone has a unique set of talent to contribute and together we form a team that is far greater than the sum of its parts.

As part of the National team for over 6 years now, we see many of our juniors joining the team, gradually replacing retiring seniors. Some of them grew up aspiring to play the sport like we have all these years. Having juniors who look up to me reminds me to stay humble and lead by example, just like how my seniors have done the same for me.

The most rewarding part of the sport is the community around me – family, friends, coaches, seniors, teammates, juniors, and even my fellow competitors whom I had the chance to meet and learn from through the sport. I am thankful for all the support I have to get me to where I am today.

Because of the support I have received throughout the years, I have made a personal commitment to give back to the Water Polo community as much as I can. During weekends, I coach kids, aged 8 to 16 years, at the Pacer Water Polo Academy. Besides imparting my knowledge and skills, I also try to inculcate in them important values such as respect, humility, and teamwork through sports. I strongly believe in paying it forward and this is one of the ways I do it.

My Deloitte double internship experience

As a Water Polo national athlete, I heard about how Deloitte Singapore is a strong supporter of athletes and I was keen to be part of the organisation and understand its culture.

I applied for the Deloitte Inspire Awards in 2016 and I am extremely honoured and grateful that my commitments and achievements beyond academic results are recognised by an employer. Besides the cash prize that I received for being an Awardee, I was also given the opportunity to intern at Deloitte.

For a fresh-faced undergraduate with little to no work experience, the 10 weeks I spent with Deloitte in 2016 under the Audit department was nothing short of a blessing. More often than not, I found myself lacking the skills to carry out my tasks, but my superiors and fellow interns were not only understanding but patient in teaching me. I also got the opportunity to work with different teams and learnt a lot about the various industries and how Deloitte adds value to our clients.

I did my second internship with Deloitte in summer 2017 with the Restructuring Services Group in Financial Advisory. While it was the same organisation, the experience was far from identical to the first.

Firstly, being in different departments in Deloitte meant engaging clients differently and addressing different business concerns. I needed to adapt and learn on the go, to make first internship experience relevant for my job scope.

Secondly, while there was a stark difference in the department I was assisting as an intern, there was still a great sense of familiarity. I knew more people, was less afraid to ask, less timid to share my thoughts and more ready to help because of the familiar surroundings. The “first game jitters” have been shrugged off after my first internship and I was better able to learn and contribute.

With the SEA Games 2017, balancing my internship and training commitments was a real concern to me. I was worried that I would have to sacrifice my trainings and it would hinder my preparation for SEA Games. However, from my first internship with Deloitte, I knew that their support for Team Singapore Athletes is strong and I knew that heading back to Deloitte for a second internship was the best decision that I had made to address this concern.

My experience from my second internship was a truly great learning experience. I was part of a very welcoming team who was eager to guide me while they continue to work hard and have fun at the same time! Special mention goes to my buddy and counsellor who had been very patient and serious when teaching me, yet their light-hearted and funny demeanour kept the workplace fun!

I am glad to be given the opportunity to be selected as a Deloitte Student Ambassador as I can play my part to be a bridge between my peers and Deloitte. Hopefully, as I carry on my role as a student ambassador, I will be able to share my experiences with my school mates.

One of my favourite quotes that I live by for my day-to-day activities

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it’s the courage to continue that counts.”

– Sir Winston Churchill


Contact me

If you want to know more about my internship experiences or have any questions for me, feel free to contact me at

D.cisions is our quarterly magazine which provides undergraduates with tips, advice and success stories to help them take their first crucial step in making the right choice for themselves, in terms of choosing their employer - one where they will fit in and aligned to their values, interests and priorities.

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