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Staying focused on the task at hand

  • by Hyper Island Asia


In this unstructured frenzy, and in a world that is facing a reskilling emergency, how do we ensure we achieve the right learning outcomes as a society? From Hyper Island’s perspective, we have embraced this change with a mix of curiosity, excitement and trepidation. We believe that we could not and should not underinvest in empowerment, innovation, and training, or risk suffering the consequence of that.

Being a creative business school, we are no strangers to emphasising the importance of being adaptable in a rapidly evolving world. We aligned our proven learning by doing ethos to the problem (see: pandemic), and designed a curriculum with these principles in place through remote teams, guided learning and reflection. 

We understood that if the pandemic was catalysing innovation and accelerating an existing trend towards distributed and remote working, then there was a huge scope for using digital technology to improve L&D programmes for organisations.

In Partners We Trust

In the Jardine Matheson Group, we found partners that shared our beliefs. For the conglomerate, it did not take a pandemic to trigger change, but wise leadership. 

In 2018, pre-pandemic, Executive Chairman - Benjamin Keswick - recognised that “equipping our employees with the right skills, and taking advantage of new technologies were crucial if the Group were to remain relevant to customers and stay ahead of their competitors”, and set out four Momentum Shift Pillars for the organisation’s long-term strategic framework for all of Jardine Matheson’s businesses to drive change. 

The four focus areas of People, Collaboration, Innovation and Sustainability were designated as engines to power the organisation’s sustainable long term growth. 

In Jardines’ 188-year long history, there had never been group initiatives to provide learning and development (L&D) experiences en masse to all its business units. And given that Jardines operates as a decentralised organisation, with over 464,000 employees, this was always going to be a gargantuan task.

Not just reacting, but responding

From an ensuing discussion with Jardines Business Leaders, HR and Chief Digital Officers and by applying Design Thinking techniques, Hyper Island prioritised four topics for the curriculum out of 40 for the pilot programme. 

Making the shortlist were: 1. Human Centred Design, 2. Digital Business Agility, 3. Digital Marketing & Growth Hacking, and 4. Data Driven Decision Making. Since then, more courses have been added based on high demand from the Group businesses and positive participant feedback.

Together, Jardine Matheson in partnership with Hyper Island rolled out the Jardines Digital, IT and Innovation Academy (or JDIIA) which would offer a core set of new skills and capabilities to be ready for the next phase of Jardine Matheson’s momentum shift.

JDIIA would be the first programme to empower the Group’s businesses from within to learn, grow and innovate so that the Group would have a talent base who were bold enough to embrace risk and respond at speed to changing customer needs.

From the get-go, the Academy was seen as core to the business, not a bolt-on.

Gradually, and then suddenly

The mode of delivery started in hybrid mode (a combination of blended in-person and online learning journeys) in 2019 during the pilot, before rapidly moving 100% online (in a mere two weeks) in early 2020 due to the pandemic. 

As part of the team at Hyper Island, we came together and hustled to innovate the format of experiences, where all face-to-face learning journeys were not ‘translated from offline to online’ but completely reimagined for online delivery, demonstrating true agility in the process, as the pandemic shut down the borders and our campus in Singapore.

As always, there was a focus on forming human connections and broadening our learner’s horizons through live content, interactive collaboration, discussion and dialogues aplenty, but this time delivered via streaming and suitable supporting applications.

Our co-founder, Professor Jonathan Briggs, who has led our learning designers in creating new formats for ‘tried and tested content’, debuted gamified learning journeys, complete with murder mysteries and virtual tours of Silicon Valley.

From applying human-centred methodologies, leveraging a constantly evolving stack of digital tools and these gamified learning techniques, the format is an immersive experience for learners that want to take a learning-by-doing approach to their development.

Learners are charmed by our learning journeys, learning outcomes achieved, and critically, they leave with the knowledge retention to speak to current developments with a high degree of fluency.

It was and remains a powerful and effective way for all involved to stay learning, inspired and connected in these very strange times. This has resulted in a higher learner satisfaction score from blended to online 92% to 94% versus 15% with massive open online courses (MOOC).

For the Academy pilot in 2019, 240 employees across 12 business units from Australia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, and the Philippines were enrolled. And in 2020, Jardine Matheson expanded the L&D courses and offering to over 16 business units, and included the markets of Myanmar, Morocco, and Vietnam to the mix. 

Combined, over ten months, participants included digital enthusiasts, support function staff, and middle and senior managers, all of whom were integrated into the programme. The results were phenomenal:

  • the curriculum was made relevant to all business units and met the transformation needs of CDOs;
  • turned digital awareness to a real-world application through the learning journey;
  • impacted a genuine behaviour change - from mindset and behaviour shifts rather than just skills and knowledge;
  • took participants from mere awareness to actual application;
  • and weaved-in a shared digital language with corporate culture.

With the JDIIA now up and sprinting, an additional 300 participants will benefit from the ever-evolving curriculum in the second half of 2020 and 2021.

Peter Attfield, Chief Talent & Learning Officer, Jardines Matheson, shared: “There is no doubt that economic and demographic shifts are putting additional pressure on the workforces of today. As we enter a new decade, one that the United Nations and others have called the “decade of delivery” for important transitions to a more sustainable world, we must also focus on achieving equitable, inclusive progress to equip and enable our team at Jardine Matheson’s to thrive in the jobs of the future. ”

The Never Normal

According to the WEF, more than one billion jobs, almost a third of all jobs worldwide, are likely to be transformed by technology in the next decade. 

And in the next two years – by 2022 – the WEF estimates 133 million new jobs in major economies will be created to meet the demands of the Fourth Industrial Revolution – 42% of core skills required to perform existing jobs are expected to change.

There’s a common misconception that we’ll all need to develop highly technological or scientific skills to succeed. 

Yet the 2020 LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report highlights that the highest priority skills are Leadership & Management - 57%, Creative Problem Solving & Design Thinking - 42% and Communication - 40% (in comparison with Mobile Computing & Development, Engineering & Coding and Cloud Computing all under 10%). 

There is a growing need for people to develop specialised skills for how they interact with each other. The shelf life of technical skills can be relatively short, but soft skills are always necessary, regardless of an employee’s functional role or how the technology landscape evolves. 



For all our combined efforts, we even clinched the prestigious “Brandon Hall - Excellence in Learning Awards” which has only served to motivate us even more.

Brandon Hall - Excellence in Learning Awards

With Jardines Matheson as our partner, we are delighted to have received a Gold Award for ”Best Advanced in Blended Learning” and while the organisation clinched a Silver Award for the “Best Advance in a Corporate Learning Strategy" for its internal efforts.

We are grateful for our amazing partners and colleagues for its only through our collaboration that this achievement was made possible. And lest we forget, these awards mean nothing if we didn’t have all the enthusiastic learners at Jardines Matheson. 

#Jardines #JardinesLearningAcademy #HyperIsland #BHGawards

Authored by Melanie Cook, Managing Director, Asia Pacific

Tagged with: HI for Business

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