The second series of the Fullerton-SJI Leadership Lectures featured Professor Leo Tan Wee Hin ( 24 August 2012 ), Mr Richard Magnus ( 8 October 2012 ), Mr Tony Chew ( 30 January 2013 ) and Mr Jeremy Monteiro ( 28 March 2013 ). Despite the diverse backgrounds and fields of business , there was a common thread highlighted by all speakers – their story of simple beginnings and how they now exemplify the change they wished to see in their youth .
Professor Leo Tan Wee Hin – recipient of the Public Administration Medal ( Gold ), Public Service Medal and Public Service Star – has achieved numerous awards throughout his illustrious career . However , Professor Tan describes himself as “ a slow student ” because he required “ not 6 years of primary schooling but 7 years of primary schooling .” Despite this , Professor Tan has gone on to helm many projects from the Singapore Science Centre to the Gardens by the Bay .
Being Josephian resulted in him venturing out of his comfort zone to take over Directorship of the Singapore Science Centre in 1981 . He recounts , “ 7 people before me had cleverly found good reasons why they should not take over the running of the Science Centre . But none of them were Josephians . And unfortunately , or fortunately , in my 12 years or 13 years in SJI , I was always told to do as you are told . Rise to the challenge ; accept whatever is given to you ... Remember I am a marine biologist , I had no idea how to run an organisation and I was suddenly thrown into the deep end of the pool to run 100 people who first looked at me and said , ‘ Huh this guy knows nothing about museums . Let ’ s take him for a ride , if we can , or we can try to get into his good books .’ And I was at the mercy of 100 people who knew what jobs they were doing ; but I didn ’ t and I was supposed to lead them . [ Working at the Science Centre was ] a very fascinating journey of getting people to listen to what I say although I didn ’ t know what the exhibitions were
Some are born great , some achieve greatness , and some have greatness thrust upon them .
– William Shakespeare
all about , what the Science Centre was all about . How to develop an exhibition by using innate curiosity which was inculcated in school about the answers that do not lie in the textbook ? The answers lie in thinking about the problem and the seeds of the solutions are in that problem . And that was when I began to get a little respect from my staff and they said this guy is not that bad after all . He is not so stupid . Maybe we can follow him . And 10 years [ later ] when I left the Science Centre it was one of the top 10 Science Centres in the world . It wasn ’ t because I knew my job ; it was because my people knew their job .”
By Kevin Koh Ming Yu
The essence in leadership is not about leading people . It ’ s about getting out there and doing what you can , what you think you cannot do , but nothing is impossible until it is proven to be impossible .