Monday, 26 October 2009

Making Connections

I'm so excited and I want to share it with you, my dear BBGSians. The Star has published a feature on my career & travels under the Malaysians Abroad column today: Apologies in advance for tooting my own horn :-)

While her job is in training, Joanna Yeoh never wants to stop learning.

FROM surviving the 1997 riots in Jakarta to learning to trade electricity in Brisbane, Joanna Yeoh’s work has taken her places.Being a travel enthusiast, Yeoh has no complaints. So far, she has worked in eight different countries and lived abroad for as many years.

“In Jakarta, I was posted to work on a process improvement project. We always had our passports and plane tickets with us just in case of an emergency evacuation,” recalled Yeoh, who was attached to a global consulting group in Malaysia back then, via e-mail.

In 1999, Yeoh was sent for her first long-term posting to Brisbane, Australia, and held the position of generation forecasting manager.“I had so much fun learning how to speak Strine (Australian slang) and understanding cricket and rugby because, otherwise, nobody spoke to you on Monday mornings,” she quipped.

Currently, Yeoh, 39, is regional senior manager of learning and organisational development with McDermott, an oil and gas services company, in Singapore.

The former Bukit Bintang Girls School student graduated with a Bachelor of Economics from Universiti Malaya in 1994. She went on to obtain her MBA in International Business from the University of Birmingham, Britain, in 1996, on a British Council Chevening Scholarship.

She returned to Malaysia in 1997 to join the global consulting group as a consultant in energy and mining. In the next seven years, she had stints in Australia, Indonesia, South Korea and Singapore.

Yeoh assumed the post of vice-president of human resources with a Malaysian entertainment and resorts company in 2003. “That was one of my most interesting and challenging jobs. It’s a 24/7, 365-day operation there with the casinos, hotels and theme parks, hence, a never-ending cycle of recruitment, training and payroll. I loved every minute of working with the team there who were super-men and super-women!”

In 2006, Yeoh joined a multinational energy and petrochemical company for about a year before moving to Singapore in 2007 to join an American-based microprocessor solutions provider.Last year, she spent six months in Shanghai on a project (under the same company) as head of leadership and organisational development for the Asian region.

“I had the chance to build its learning and development teams and also witness the phenomenal growth of China. My proudest achievement was finally learning to speak Mandarin.“I believe that China is ready to claim prominence on the world stage and is on the brink of a new ‘dynasty’ to rival the golden years of the Han, Tang or Ming dynasties.”

In her current position, which she assumed recently, Yeoh works with senior leadership teams to help improve the effectiveness of their organisational structure and people. “The most common areas of focus are performance management, talent and succession planning, leadership development and change management. This is a specialist field within human resources management,” she explained.

Her role is to keep things simple.

“While many leaders acknowledge the importance of organisational development or change management, it is often seen as nebulous and obscure in practice. My challenge is always to keep things ‘simple, implementable and tangible’ so that the benefits can be seen clearly and quickly.”

Yeoh finds satisfaction in her career by playing a role in selecting and honing young talents – “when I meet management trainees whom I hired as fresh graduates walk up to me and say, ‘Miss Joanna, I made it. I’m now a manager in XYZ department. Thank you for giving me a chance and helping me to grow.’”

Not surprisingly, one of her aims is to groom future leaders. “I am passionate about coaching Asian leaders to lead at regional or international levels,” said Yeoh, who also hopes to pursue a PhD in the next five years.

The Kuala Lumpur-born also believes in trying new things and lending a helping hand to others. “My goal is to become the best person that God created me to be. Every year, I try to learn and practise something new, from skydiving to learning Mandarin to walking on hot coals.

“More importantly, I believe in giving back by helping someone else. One of my favourite quotes is by Winston Churchill: ‘We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.’”

Fact File
NAME: Joanna Yeoh
AGE: 39
HOMETOWN: Kuala Lumpur
EDUCATION: Bukit Bintang Girls School,Universiti Malaya, KL; University of Birmingham, Britain
OCCUPATION: Leadership and organisational development consultant


Moonlake Lee said...

very cool, Joanna. Congratulations and keep it up...!!!

Hey, when you get a breather... how about organizing a Singapore get-together :)

beary nice said...

che wa.... =)
it's very, very nice =) you make us proud..