The best that you can be
By Ann Marie Chandy |   |  Lifestyle

By Ann Marie Chandy

Be accountable and upgrade yourself, even when times are bad, says training consultant John Kam.

From a Malaysian perspective, “learning” and “earning” seem to be two different things, says John Kam, CEO of D’Jungle People (DJP), a training consultancy based in Petaling Jaya.  It is one of his pet peeves – that people have yet to see that learning and earning are very much intertwined. “And because we haven’t kept that mentality in place for long enough, we’re still a developing country.”

Kam has over a decade of experience in the field of Training and Advisory throughout the globe. With an eye on positioning D’Jungle People as a differentiated competitor in the market, he has, over the last 19 years, successfully guided the organisation towards becoming a leader in mindset and behavioural change.

From what began as a simple idea by a group of friends, D’Jungle People has grown from strength to strength, providing solutions on how to build effective teams with a focus on sustainability, how to align values and build engaging managers through learning forums and customised solutions that address fixed mind sets.

“We’ve come a long way,” says Kam, 45. “Not as far as I’d like to have gone, but still things are pretty much on track. I think what’s really enlightening for me now, seeing things from this end of the tunnel rather than the other end, is how fast time has passed.”

He relates how the team has seen the landscape change over the last two decades, both politically and from an industry perspective.

“In the beginning, there were only a handful of training companies in the market and it was a very select group of people. We found we had to learn for ourselves what experiential learning was all about. We did it very instinctively because there wasn’t anybody to teach us at the time. As we progressed, I’d like to think that we’ve become a bit more sophisticated and structured in our approach. Along the way, we also had to educate the market about experiential learning too.”

Fast forward two decades, and the market today has really opened up. “There’s a lot of people in this space right now. Whether all are good is questionable, but it’s open and we’re a pretty mature learning market from a number of perspectives. Yet, though the industry is mature, the workforce mentality isn’t. We find that people sometimes take training for granted.”

In order to become a high income society, Kam encourages everyone to learn to value their skill set. He says: “A high value skill set is going to get you so much further than just hard work,” explaining that people with a higher value skill set keep learning and progressing, while hard work alone can only take one so far.

“What people need to critically understand, and this needs to be embedded in our education system, is that one needs to be accountable for one’s own skill sets, for one’s own competencies and for one’s own growth.”

Kam says that too often his team has come across folk who just aren’t accountable in any of these respects. “Perhaps it’s because we’ve been spoon-fed all our lives because of our education system.

“I think there’s quite a combination of factors that needs to happen, in order for us to progress,” explains Kam, saying this includes a change in how we educate our children, as well as for corporations to have a paradigm shift about learning and earning.

Kam reckons that the really high performing people are the ones who invest a lot in themselves. “They don’t see learning as a chore, they see it as an investment into making themselves more valuable.”

Kam and his team have upped their game as well, and have tweaked their approach to get participants to have an emotional commitment first. “That way we find that the content download becomes a lot simpler, they’re more receptive and more willing to listen and learn.”

Where training is most needed now, says Kam, is in the SMEs. “SMEs traditionally don’t have a huge training budget and whatever budget they have is focused on technical aspects. We’ve seen that this is the largest under-served market out there, and the need is getting more critical because the small scale industries are moving into medium, and medium industries are trying to go large. In order to scale, you’ve got to have managers that are able to manage and not just be able to deliver technical expertise.”

D’Jungle People is also going a step further from traditional training modules, to helping clients explore and design a learning ecosystem.

“A training programme is only as good as the ecosystem that it sits in. It’s not about how good the training programme is. It’s about how well people can translate this training back into the real world environment. There are various aspects of the ecosystem that need to be tweaked in order for this learning to happen optimally, and we’re here to show you how.”

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