RHA Media Group recently appointed Dr Thomas Chong, an Associate Director at the Singapore campus of James Cook University, as its International Advisor. A Fellow of Stanford University since 2005 and an alumnus of the Yale Publishing Course (2012), both of the United States of America, and with over 3 decades of experience in the field of education, Dr Chong has contributed and accomplished numerous achievements in the education industry.
In the late 1980s, Dr Chong accepted a Singapore Ministry of Education bursary to undergo teacher-training at the then-Institute of Education. He became a certified trainer in Adventure Learning and Experiential Learning and was a Scout Leader during his early teaching days.
In 1991, Dr Thomas Chong accepted an American scholarship to pursue his degree in Education and Psychology, discontinuing his law studies at the University of London. He was awarded subsequent scholarships to study curriculum and training systems at the Master’s degree level in Minnesota in 1992, and doctoral studies in home-schooling in Texas in 1993. He returned to Singapore mid-way through his doctoral studies to be closer with family.
Upon his return to Singapore in the mid-1990s, Dr Chong joined a team of returning graduates and started the first computer playground in Singapore, which was under private and government funding. He trained his team to create the computer-based curriculum which served to promote IT-literacy for 80,000 Singaporeans within a year, and also assisted in running a proprietary chain of seven private child care centres, the only chain to have won the National Training Award then. Dr Chong also served as a member of the Singapore Scout Association’s National Training Commission in the mid-1990s.
Being a staff member of IBM ASEAN then IBM Singapore, Dr Chong was honoured multiple times, winning the IBM Asia-Pacific President’s Award in 1998. During the early 2000s, he nursed a fledging a dot-com and prepared it for successful listing on the stock exchange in Malaysia after securing in partnership with a Malaysian consortium, not one but two Malaysian government contracts to train 77,600 teachers to teach Mathematics and Science for the first time in English, through e-learning resources. As its Deputy CEO for Global Services, Dr Chong’s sales team commercialised the education innovations of the dot.com to win The Enterprise Challenge Achievement Award from the Singapore Prime Minister’s Office.
In 2004, Dr Chong was recruited to serve as one of the pioneer deputy directors at the then-Singapore Workforce Development Agency which was subsequently re-structured into 2 entities namely Workforce Singapore and Skills Singapore. He drove the national programmes across multiple industries, and together with his agency colleagues, moved Singapore from the National Skills and Recognition System to one that is competency-based. The latter has evolved into what is today known as the Workforce Skills Qualifications, complete with Industry Transformation Roadmaps.
Subsequently in the mid-2000s, Dr Chong became a consultant for Krista Group in Malaysia, a franchise chain of 150 private kindergartens.
In 2006, Dr Chong was appointed Tourism Manpower Director at the Singapore Tourism Board. His job was to oversee tourism manpower development, especially the manpower pipeline for 30,000 new tourism jobs, 40 months before the opening of the 2 integrated resorts, Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Singapore. Dr Chong had worked about 12 years in the public service across four ministries and statutory boards, another 12 years in the private sector such as at Apple and IBM, and about 7 years in the charity sector.
From 2009 to 2013, Dr Chong served as a Director at the PAP Community Foundation with its Early Childhood Institute serving more than 1000 preschool professionals nurturing pre-schoolers across more than 300 preschool centres.
Dr Chong had also served in two polytechnics in Singapore, primarily as a staff developer, coaching polytechnic lecturers to effectively convey their wealth of industry experience in an engaging manner.
In 2014 and 2015, while serving as a staff developer and running a polytechnic’s wholly-owned subsidiary that commercialises its licensable training modules and assets, Dr Chong jointly orchestrated the TVET teacher-training for senior staff and instructors from across the 250 vocational institutes under Sri Lanka’s Vocational Training Authority. He was then honoured with a government sponsorship to study at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, at the National University of Singapore (NUS).
Being a master trainer for Covey’s 7 Habits and LEGO Education at Denmark, Dr Chong has facilitated a series of professional development courses for senior army officials, police trainers, key executive officers and key appointment holders of several public listed companies. He was a part-time lecturer, tutor and practicum supervisor for the National Institute of Education amidst his busy schedule of volunteerism. Dr Chong also served as a Town Councillor for Sembawang – Nee Soon Town Council and subsequently, Sembawang Town Council. Apart from that, Dr Chong was also a member of the REACH Policy Study Workgroup for Education and Human Capital Excellence as well as a member of the Singapore Government Parliamentary Committee Resource Panel. Dr Chong was honoured with the Singapore Ministry of Education’s Service to Education Awards, achieving Bronze in 2005, Silver in 2009 and Gold in 2020. An active grassroots leaders and volunteer for 15 years in the Marsiling constituency, Dr Chong was awarded a Most Outstanding Grassroots Leader award in 2016 by Madam Halimah Yacob, then-Grassroots Advisor of Marsiling and now President of Singapore.
As a passionate lifelong learner, Dr Chong has graduated with numerous certificates including a Specialist Certificate in Language Teacher Education and the Certificate in Active Communicative Teaching (Distinction) from the Regional Language Centre, which is part of the South-East Asia Ministers of Education Organisation. He also holds a Certificate in Public Engagement from Harvard University (2002) and a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Duke University (2004/2005). Dr Chong is an NUS alumnus, having graduated with the NUS-YMCA post-graduate Cert in Volunteer Service Management from the NUS Business School (2011) and he gave the valedictory speech at the Graduation Dinner. In 2018, he received the PhD (on full scholarship) from James Cook University, Australia. His thesis focused on the role of parenting and technology in the development of Malay pre-schoolers and learners.
Dr Chong also possesses years of professional experience in executive coaching, merger and acquisition works, manpower development and purpose-driven conversations with C-suite and industry giants. When working with a small research unit under the Singapore Government, Dr Chong interviewed CEOs and Human Resource Directors across government agencies, and produced “case studies” for the professional development of public servants. More recently, he also served as an executive coach of sorts to Directors and their deputies across Whole-Of-Government.
A recipient of kindness from various quarters, Dr Chong tries to pay it forward. Hence, he sets aside time to write and undertake editorial work; his books have been sold to raise funds for charity groups. In the past, Dr Chong has also volunteered his time and energy to serve as part of the editorial team for the book, “Tun Mahathir’s Legacy” which was published by Krista group. His writing and analytical skills were also put to good use in helping companies prepare their prospectus for public listing. Effectively bilingual in Malay and English, Dr Chong has worked on multiple projects with companies including Krista Group.
Dr Chong was also a board member and assistant secretary at Gawad Kalinga Hope Initiative (GKHI) in its beginning years in Singapore, from 2008. GKHI is an organisation that helps to build sustainable communities for the poorest of the poor in the Philippines. He was also the Board representative of the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre, Singapore and served on ComCare, a key social assistance scheme in Singapore’s social safety net which provides assistance for low-income households that need financial help. Dr Chong also contributed in the area of education at YMCA Singapore.
Due to his expertise in the field of education and vast experience, Dr Chong would be providing strategic advice to EducationTvet+Asia and HR Hub Malaysia, key initiatives of RHA Media Group. His knowledge would also be useful to HR Hub Malaysia, a news portal for Human Resource news and success stories under RHA Media Group.