SHRI Member Spotlight – Leslie Teo

Leslie is a non-typical, multi-skilled talent development professional with stints as Programme Chair of Singapore’s first and only 3-year full-time healthcare management diploma programme; the first ever Training and Program Manager of Singapore’s largest CET and Adult Education provider; and is currently a L&D partner with Singapore’s only legally approved lottery & gaming company. He’s also a highly self-motivated and adaptive individual with strong business acumen developed through a professional journey spanning more than 25 years, honing his suite of highly transferable complementary and adjacent business and life skills from exposure to myriad business functions such Sales and Marketing, Business Development, Account Management, Finance, Quality, Event Management and Service Operations, often with P&L responsibilities.

How would you explain your job to someone outside of HR?

I encourage, facilitate, and support an individual’s professional and skills development for an organisation, so that they can be more effective in the work that they do. My role as a Training Manager is to support organisational talent development efforts, in alignment with organisational strategic intents, and for the future of work.

What’s something about you or your job that would surprise us?

Before becoming a talent development professional for the last 11 years, I was privileged to have the opportunity to take on varied business roles over the first 17 years of my professional career, which included stints in areas of accounting, sales & marketing, event management, business development, corporate development, service operations and quality management. These experiences are a tremendous value-add during my conversations with the business units as a Learning Partner due to my ability to speak the same language and lingo, enabling me to develop a higher level of trust with the stakeholders while facilitating a deeper conversation of the business needs of the unit, and how we will be able to work together for a winning solution, that may or may not include training as part of that solution.

What has been the biggest highlight of your career so far?

I would say that it would have to be my stint as a Course Manager with one of the polytechnics, where I get to not only witness cohorts of students who joined the programmes as freshies, before graduating proudly with their diplomas three years later but accompanying them in their journey and seeing them transform. At every graduation ceremony when I gazed upon the happy looks of the student’s parents, and the many words of appreciation received from both students and their parents alike, it was the greatest sense of achievement and satisfaction that words are often not enough to express.

What’s an HR trend or space you’re watching this year?

How Workplace Learning is increasingly becoming a very important and essential component of the L&D ecosystem, to support the development of knowledge and skills through multiple touchpoints and avenues. It is not something easily achievable, but when done correctly, it will have a profound effect at an enterprise level, in terms of not just the learning culture, but also business outcomes.

What advice would you give someone starting in HR?

Be open to taking on various job tasks or projects that come along your way and use them as learning opportunities. They would help you develop a deeper understanding of how an organisation functions, and how the different business units support the organisation to achieve its strategic objectives and mission.

What’s one thing you can keep talking about for hours?

Having a curious mind, the self-agency to develop oneself both personally and professionally, and lifelong learning. They are all interlinked and it is surprising to know that till this age and time, there are still many who view themselves as having completed their learning upon graduating with a Diploma or first degree. I have been a strong advocate of lifelong learning and how it has a strong correlation with career agility. I usually cite myself as an example having developed a set of highly transferrable complementary and adjacent business and life skills through exposure to myriad business functions, supported by continuous learning throughout my professional life obtaining 10 academic and industry qualifications and several internationally recognised professional accreditations.

What’s your favourite movie/TV show?

I have several favourites but if I were to cite a more recent movie, it would have to be ‘The Greatest Showman’. A fantastic movie musical with scores of original songs and great singing from actors/actresses whom you would not typically associate as being one like Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron. But the greatest surprise has to be Keala Settle who sang the hit song ‘This is Me’. If you watched the making of the movie, it was an emotional audition for Keala Settle and all the cast involved. The movie-musical itself is based on the story and life of P.T. Barnum (although some details were exaggerated) , whose perseverance and ability to keep perspective and be inspirational, allowed him to reinvent himself after his museums were burned down.

What’s your go-to lunch around your workplace?

It would have to be Fortune Centre where there are many F&B options available, depending on your mood for the day. Simply spoilt for choice.

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