Hello Francis Yeo – NTUC LearningHub’s True Blue Lifelong Learner

31 Dec 2018 Posted in ⟨Stories⟩

As an intern with NTUC LearningHub (NTUC LHUB), my conversation with Francis Yeo was quite an experience. At the age of 62 years old, he generously shares a wealth of stories, experiences and advice with us throughout the interview. His genial personality held my undivided attention when he brings me through his lifelong learning journey from his youth to now, every chapter leading up to how he eventually helms the role of head of Technology Partnership and Digital Transformation with NTUC LHUB.

Embarking On The Learning Journey

“I joined NTUC LHUB because I was invited, honestly.” he laughed. It’s this candid openness, this willingness to share, that makes him so approachable.

“Know thyself first, and what you want to do. Don’t be distracted by the pay, position, or whatever glory you think you want.”

Francis

“I was quite playful when I was younger, I didn’t take my studies very seriously,” he reminisced. While most people recounting those days may have hinted at regrets (for not studying hard enough), Francis seemed to realise that this unconventional life path (for his time) is what brought him down the road he took over the past 30 years. He discovered his love for electronics at the age of 17, when he soldered and built amplifiers during his time at his school IT club. This interest in IT during that time was not a common route for many as there is a general mistrust of computers and higher technology at the time.

Next, he advanced to STI (Singapore Technical Institute) where he attained the Industrial Trade Certificate, equivalent to the modern-day ITE Higher Nitec Certification. Driven to push on further in his quest for knowledge, Francis took on a private diploma programme. The programme involved a significant self-studying which honed his discipline and commitment towards goals.

To complement his acquisition of theoretical knowledge, Francis joined Singtel as a trainee technician, where he was bonded on a 3-year probation. To pursue this option, he sacrificed the chance to learn the ropes for his father’s business, which might have been the easier, more comfortable path. Upon receiving his diploma, Francis re-calibrated his career ambition and set his sight on the managerial role.

Determined and through sheer dedication and will, he finally received his promotion after being interviewed no less than 12 times! “I was the first person to clear my bond at the point of promotion!” he beamed. The promotion allowed him to clear his bond as a technician. As he explained this, the years of experience crinkled around his eyes as he experienced the pride he had felt those many years ago, all over again.

“When I was 27 or 28, they stationed me at a telephone installation base – and I had around 70 staff under me at the time, some as old as their late 40’s to early 60’s,” he recounted. He shared that becoming a leader is never easy, especially when one is less than half the age of their oldest employee.

Learning As A New Leader

“As I was new to the leadership position, I had to adapt and learn to become a leader. The learning curve was steep.” He said. It was made even tougher at a time when the Singapore organisations were facing rapid technology changes. Walking the talk, Francis contributed a total of 16 years at Singtel, testing his mettle supported by consistent enhancement of leadership and technology skills.

Francis did not just limit himself to just learning about existing technology. He ventured into the emerging field of coding during his time at Singtel as well. Note this happened at a time when computers are starting to be a tool of the workplace. This is evident that Francis was highly adaptable for his time. Shortly after teaching himself how to code, he decided to pursue his second diploma – an advanced diploma in Computer Science.

Equipped with the relevant qualifications and skill sets, Francis joined Hutchison Telecoms (Thailand) as the Business Development Director. If you think he will be satisfied with his two diploma qualifications, you do not know Francis well enough. He resolved to pursue his Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Information Systems, through a distance study programme.

He accomplished all this while having gotten married, having a child and working full time, making a poignant point on how despite its various challenges, heading back to school once working full time is perfectly achievable. This is yet another way however Francis is the living embodiment of NTUC LearningHub’s message of learning and continuous improvement throughout one’s career, to stay relevant in the shifting economy.

He subsequently became the General Manager of Sapura Technology Singapore. These 2 stints helped to build and establish his connections to the movers and shakers in the technology industry, priming him for his current role at NTUC LearningHub.

Throughout his career, Francis travelled and work in many destinations across the globe and that served to further his understanding of different cultures and allowed him to experience more than he could have learned if purely staying in Singapore, which is something he attributes to his success. However, all this time away from the country made Francis realise that his drive, truly, was his family.

“They’re always waiting for me at home while I’m flying all over the world… they motivated me to keep doing better,” he said, referring to his wife and daughters.

The Learning Never Stops

Even now at NTUC LearningHub, Francis has never stopped learning and continued to immerse himself with emerging technology and innovations.

The voracious learner has over his 6 years with NTUC LHUB acquired the Advance Certificate in Training & Assessment (ACTA), Diploma in Adult Continuing Education (DACE), MSc in Skills and Workforce Development (Cardiff University/IAL) as well as the Certified Career Advisory Program. That’s not all. Just a few years ago (in his 50’s), Francis decided to go back to school to earn his Masters.

Joining NTUC LearningHub made Francis realise his passion for adult education and the joy behind imparting his vast knowledge and experience for the betterment of others.

“When I joined LHUB, I decided to get certified as an adult educator,” he said, clearly committed to his mission of sharing his wealth of experience. He serves as a career advisor to local start-up companies as well as young adults who are just starting out to determine a career that they love that also suits their interests.

When asked about what advice he would give to his fellow LHUBbers, he paused for a moment and clasped his hands before answering. “Know thyself first, and what you want to do. Don’t be distracted by the pay, position, or whatever glory you think you want.” he said. And if anyone would know, with wealth of life experience to draw on, it would definitely be Francis.

Article by: Chloe Teo

This year, NTUC LearningHub celebrates 15 years of transforming people through accessible and affordable education. Since 2004, we have fulfilled over 2.4 million training places and transformed over 21,000 organisations.

Regardless of collar, age or nationality, we are here to help you upgrade your skills to keep up with a rapidly changing workforce. For more information on how we can help, talk to our friendly Course Consultants at NTUC Trade Union House, Devan Nair Institute for Employment and Employability, LHUB@Tampines Mall or any of our roadshows islandwide.


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