5-Minute Interview With the Executive Director of Asia Petrochemical Supplies (Holdings) Ltd

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. 

What was your first experience of an Outward Bound course?

Back in 2004, I took part in a Corporate training programme. We were with a group of management trainees and we barely knew each other. All of us were excited as we hoped to learn something different in an unfamiliar setting. To my surprise, my mobile devices were not allowed during the course and we had to lock away our phones. It was great that I didn’t have to answer calls from my girlfriend and my parents! I finally had time for myself and brought clarity to my thinking. Thinking is a good personal reflection and the journey allowed me to take time to shut out the noise of the outside world and reconnect with my inner thoughts in silence that leads to incredible self-discovery, especially my career paths. 

Besides the opportunity of having a quiet learning and self-discovered moments, Outward Bound’s outdoor experience is transferable. I and my teams realised the problems or situations we faced in day-to-day life or workplace contain the same elements that we overcame during outdoor experiences. Before making a judgement, we were encouraged to look at situations from different angles. The skills we acquired during the experience were brought back to our workplace and have helped us in the decision-making process.

What characterisitcs do you think employees should develop?

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.

We are often told  that Outward Bound courses are particularly difficult. Was that true in your case?

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.

What aspect(s) at Outward Bound have you applied directly in your business?

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.