Akankasha Dewan checks out the elements the nation’s training providers take into consideration when working with HR heads to provide great training experiences and venue facilities.
Singapore Institute of Management
The Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) is a leading provider of higher education and professional training, and was founded in 1964. It accomplishes its mission through three educational arms, each catering to a specific segment of learners.
Vincent Yeo, director of operations and service support at SIM Professional Development, observes that owing to the more tech-savvy nature of the younger workforce, training venue providers are seeing an increase in interest for “blended” training methodologies.
“This means a combination of e-learning and face-to-face classroom training arrangements,” he says.
More organisations are also embracing social media tools, however, he believes in Singapore, many are lacking the knowledge on how to effectively use these tools for learning and development.
“But clearly there will be an increase in demand for the use of social media to aid organisations in their training and development efforts.”
One of the unique training experiences conducted at SIM was “Lunch in the Dark”, with a manufacturing company, with the outcome being the ability to show empathy and relate more effectively with others.
The participants were served lunch by a blind server, where they got to experience communicating, giving instructions, moving around and dining in the dark.
Yeo explains: “They also had the benefit of learning from the blind server who despite her own handicap, was able to perform her job with much pride and effectiveness.”
Singapore National Employers Federation
The Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) is an independent, autonomous not-for-profit organisation funded by membership fees and revenue from consultancy, training, research and other activities.
The SNEF Training Institute is comprised of the Corporate Training Centre and Executive Development Centre.
Stephen Yee, assistant executive director and senior director (training) of SNEF, says companies today are looking for “2Ps + 1E” in their training venues.
That refers to a “place” that is convenient and has amenities such as shopping and eating areas; a “product” in terms of relevant training that is not too long in duration; and an “expert” trainer or facilitator who is not only knowledgeable, but also entertaining and able to translate concepts into application.
Such decisions are mostly taken by HR and L&D leaders, but sometimes by senior management.
Yee explains: “Such decisions are strategic to a certain extent. The venue affects one’s mood of learning as a conducive environment matters.”
SNEF creates that conducive environment through lighting, temperature, the seats and tables, the learning tools and aids, and the facilitator who is transferring the knowledge and the experience.
Yee points out that companies much ensure the service level of their chosen training venue caters to specific learners’ needs, for example, an area for lactating mothers, or a place to pray for Muslim learners.
“Good tea break items, post-training support and ensuring that learning takes place in the training rooms are also part of this. It is a people-centric business.”
Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel
With 65,000 square feet of versatile function space, 32 naturally lighted meeting rooms with modern amenities and meeting aids, including wireless broadband internet access and motorised screens, the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel makes sure it goes to all lengths to build an effective training environment.
“We have 34 versatile meeting rooms with different sizes and characteristics, and 32 of them are with natural daylight. In addition, we are also located along the historic Singapore River and the central business district,” explains Malcolm Hew, director of catering at Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel.
He adds, however, the needs of clients have changed in recent years – with most becoming more discerning and having higher expectations from what an optimal training venue should provide.
For example, he explains because training sessions are becoming more interactive, clients require a more versatile set-up (lighting, setting, floral arrangement) and different types of meeting rooms (catering to a group size of 10 to a size of 600) to facilitate these sessions.
In addition, clients expect the events executive to accommodate last-minute requests, provide value-added perks and to serve them with a personal touch.
“For clients wishing to have a successful experience at our hotels, we would advise them to avoid planning at the last minute. They should also provide the event organiser/executive with sufficient information such as agendas for meetings, setting, dietary requirements, billing and special requests,” Hew says.
Singapore Management University (SMU)
The training programmes the SMU Executive Development designs are all aimed to address current and future business challenges faced by clients. Therefore, the programme delivery location is decided strategically, according to the specific requirements of clients.
“At times, the regional CEOs will suggest certain locations to address specific management challenges,” says Steve Wyatt, executive director of executive development at SMU.
“Cross cultural collaborations and understandings are frequently an objective and so we can include immersive in-country experiences during the in-person modules, as well as virtual team collaborations between modules, as participants work on business challenges.”
He adds that being located in the business district of Singapore has significant advantages of convenience for participants, both local and overseas.
Not only does the convenient location enable senior executives to drop by as guest speakers, but the richness of the venues and facilities around SMU makes learning journeys infinitely tailorable to clients, needs and budgets, and certainly memorable.
“We also have over 15 hotels – from the budget hostels to the prestigious Raffles Hotel, within 100m of our university, hundreds of restaurants and venues, the famous Fort Canning Park, the Art museums, etc,” Wyatt says.
He stresses it is important for chief learning officers not to choose learning venues based solely on the notion that classroom teaching of business cases (i.e. executive education) is sufficient for executive development.
Instead, he says, “executives need multiple learning contexts and experiences, blended seamlessly together each day. So does the venue of the training partner facilitate this?”
Lime House has facilitated unique training experiences for various clients, bringing teams out of their conventional environments to energise and unite them around learning something new.
“An example of this was a recent global consumer brand that brought its teams from the US, Europe and Asia together for three days around a repositioning initiative. It was memorable to see how different people, most of whom had not met in person previously, bonded and interacted during their time at Lime House,” recounts Chris Morris, founder of Lime House.
Lime House offers a restaurant dining room and outdoor lounge space as well as additional settings that can be used to break up the monotony of a typical training session.
Morris explains the modular nature of the location, whereby the room configuration and layout can be quickly and easily converted, allows for flexibility needed by facilitators to keep their groups engaged.
The complimentary inclusion of AV equipment also gives trainers what they need to keep things interesting.
“We have found that clients find it quite useful that attendees can ‘break out’ in different parts of our building. This helps to facilitate more creative interactions and group-based learning.
“Generally speaking, I think that companies should look closely at the actual working environment and how that can be optimised to ensure effective results. For example, at Lime House, we work with our clients to plan out the day as a whole.”
Changi Cove, a hotel and conference centre, is Singapore’s first conference centre with meeting spaces themed for various off-site meeting agendas such as management planning, leadership training, sales meeting, product updates and team-building retreats.
At Changi Cove, organisers can find spaces that are purposefully designed and creatively aligned to meeting their needs.
Chew Teeyen, executive assistant manager of Changi Cove, says “the idea is to ensure our meeting spaces are well designed to drive maximum productivity for meetings and training. Too often, we have been in meetings which adapt to the spatial requirements rather than the other way around.
“At Changi Cove, we want to make our spaces relevant and yet flexible at the same time.”
The three-storey conference centre at Changi Cove encompasses nine meeting rooms and an auditorium with a distinct design intent.
The spaces created for casual and creative discussions such as brainstorming and team-building are fitted out with beanbags, bar stools, roller tables and writable walls – a feature that is unique to Changi Cove.
Located at the far eastern side of Singapore and surrounded by lush greenery, Changi Cove offers the best of both worlds to companies. Participants are redirected from the business end of the city to a tranquil and refreshing environment for recharging, without having to compromise on modern and creative meeting facilities.