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Quick Q&A with May Schooling

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Ahead of The Business of Innovation Forum organised by the London Speaker Bureau, Human Resources caught up with May Schooling, certified accountant and mother of Olympic champion Joseph Schooling, to seek her views on making tough decisions, instilling the mindset of an Olympic champion in your employees, and work-life balance. Here’s what she has to say.

Q As a parent, it must have been tough to be so far apart from your child, especially since Joseph was only 14 when he first started training at The Bolles School in the United States. What moved you to make this tough decision? And as a business woman, and founder of three businesses, how does this translate into making decisions in work?

It was very tough and I actually objected to Joseph going on his own so young but he convinced me that if he wants to be a world class athlete, he has to go then. Since he was so determined , I had to relent and support his decision.

As for work decisions, however difficult they maybe, if it is for the better good of the situation,  it must be made even if it is not what you want or like to have.

Q Singaporeans are usually sceptical when it comes to making a mark in the sporting arena. But Joseph did it, not only beating Michael Phelps to win the 100m butterfly, but also setting an Olympic record. A feat like this requires a significant amount of hard work, passion, and resilience against naysayers – in a word, it’s the mindset of an Olympic Champion. On the business front, how can you instill such a mindset in your staff?

In order to instill a competitive mindset in our staff, we have to make sure that they have commitment in their jobs, belief in their own ability to do it well and also to dare to venture, if they have to, to uncharted territories.

We have to give them the support the staff will require if they are passionate enough and give them the encouragement needed to go forth to do their best towards their goals.

Q For many professionals today, juggling between work, family and personal commitments is no easy feat. For you, that means overseeing three businesses, while travelling between two continents to support Joseph’s swimming career and being on call for him 24 hours a day. How did you accomplish this? And what is one tip you have for professionals looking to manage their work-life balance?

The truth! We have to make a lot of sacrifices like less sleep, more forward planning of all aspects of your life, learn to prioritise on what is important, necessary or just luxuries.

Just make sure you do what you have to when you have the time or can do it. Do not just think about it but act on it whenever it is urgent or you can fit into your time for the day!


As the mother of the first Singaporean to win a gold medal at the Olympics, May Schooling will share what it takes to raise an Olympic champion at The Business of Innovation Forum.

Held on 12 October 2017 at the Stamford Ballroom, Raffles City Convention Centre, Singapore, The Business of Innovation Forum is organised by the London Speaker Bureau, with Human Resources as a media partner.

The forum brings together ‘recognised innovators’ from across the globe, including Gurmit Singh, May Schooling, Zev Siegl, and more, to discuss the future of innovation and what it takes to succeed today and in the coming years.

Over the past 5 years, The Business of Innovation has been committed to helping business leaders lead more effectively in the turbulent and ever-changing world. The event is one of the most powerful conferences available for leaders, and each year features a world-class lineup of speakers discussing the key trends in the business today.

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Jerene Ang
Senior Journalist
Human Resources Magazine Singapore
From knowing almost nothing about HR to being able to hold meaningful conversations with industry leaders, Jerene reads, writes and sources for HR stories when not spending her time sleeping or playing with her dog.

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