An interview with T.H.Ong
Interview by Claire Thompson
TH Ong is one of Global Integration’s consultants, working currently out of the United States. He boasts native fluency in English, Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese Chinese along with life experiences in several countries that span the East-West divide.
I have to ask – T.H.?
It’s no secret – it’s Tun-Hao, but I’m known as, and like, T.H.
How did you get from chemical engineering, your degree, to consulting and training people in matrix management, cultural diversity and remote/virtual team working?
I was always good at the communications/people side of engineering, getting people to work well together in projects.
At graduate school for my masters, I majored in International HR management. One of the HR ‘sub-functions’ is organization development and learning – I loved it.
What was your first big break?
My first role in training was an APAC manager role with Dow Chemical. I was one of two shortlisted candidates, up against someone with a lot of experience. The person who offered me the job, my manager – and still one of my best mentors, later put my success down to high degree of energy and enthusiasm. (I expect the chemical engineering background helped as well)
What do you think are the biggest challenges facing managers today?
Beyond the economy, it’s how to get leaders, managers and workers, for want of a better word, to deal with the human realities of modern working.
The word ‘ambiguity’ is bandied about a lot, but that’s exactly what it is: old fashioned system and structure, command and control management styles are becoming less effective for many organizations/roles.
It’s often a bigger problem for management. The younger generation entering the work place are better able to cope with information, authority, communication coming from multiple sources – they’re comfortable not having prescriptive answers.
Throwing away the flow charts and standard operating procedures is hard – every situation needs tailoring. That’s outside of the comfort zone for many managers who seek clarity and stability.
If you could choose your perfect training session, what would it be?
One where I can see the intelligence from our training very clearly applied to the doing – our training is hugely practical. We’re not just a staid bunch of theorists.
I’m currently delivering courses for a company in the midst of a major restructure, which has been totally driven by big changes in their industry and markets. This is skill ‘recalibration’ supporting an organizational change at its most real – people leave the learning sessions and can immediately apply what they’ve learned if they choose.
That makes my role really rewarding.
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