Edward is an Executive Director of Asia Petrochemical Supplies (Holdings) Ltd., which specialises in technology licensing and distribution of speciality chemicals in mainland China. Having personally benefited from learning through experience with Outward Bound and receiving the Gold Award of Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in the U.K., he is a firm believer of the role experiential education plays in both character building and teamwork.
Back in 2004, I took part in a Corporate training programme. We were in a group of newly recruited Graduate Trainees and we barely knew each other then. All of us were excited about the prospect of learning something different in an unfamiliar setting. The first thing we learned was to lock away our phones and I thought that it was great that I did not have to answer any call from anyone for days! I finally found time for myself and brought clarity to my thinking. Having this opportunity to reflect on my journey thus far and shut out the noise of a daily working life facilitated reconnection with my inner thoughts and led to incredible self-discovery, especially on the directions I wanted to take in pursuit of a career.
While it was important to have those moments for quiet reflection, many elements of the Outward Bound learning experience are very relevant to our work. My teammates and I realised that problems or situations we faced in day-to-day life or at work could be resolved by applying the same learning through our outdoor experience. We were encouraged to look at situations from different angles before making any judgement. The decision skills we acquired though Outward Bound helped us tremendously even when we were back at work.
I believe that in a corporate setting, it is equally important for the team leader to be able to motivate members with a common goal or shared vision as well as for members to embrace the challenges and uncertainties as a team, whatever the vision might entail. Having effective communication and constructive criticism on ideas would hence be essential to having good outcomes.
I personally found the Outward Bound experience very enjoyable, in particular, the time available to build a deep appreciation of my teammates’ characters. I must admit though at times it was mentally challenging as we were asked to do things differently and pushed to recognise our own weaknesses, that was also part of the fun as we came out learning more about ourselves and how we could help each other to accomplish more, together.
In business, it is even more important for each member of the team to play according to his or her strength while trusting others with theirs. I learned by giving the right recognition to people’s strengths. We accomplish our goals more effectively and under certain circumstances, we identify risk or potential area of failure earlier, allowing more time to modify our approaches to a problem.