Evonne Liu, Executive and 
Ng Zhi Mao, Learning & Development Specialist 
Human Resources Department

The Insider got up close and personal with two colleagues from the Talent & Development Team for a ‘LEARNing’ session. Here’s what Zhi Mao (everyone calls him Mao) and Evonne shared with us…

Hope you like all our training & development programmes!

1) What do you like about your work?

Evonne: Human Resources (HR) is like a complex watch mechanism where all the parts are pieced together to keep the watch ticking. In an organisation, everyone plays a role and HR brings people together whilst developing their skills and abilities. It is rewarding to help staff discover their inner potentials. Also, working with diverse groups of people across different functions makes my work unique and interesting.

Mao: I love listening to and understanding people’s life stories. More importantly, I want to have an impact on their life, developing their potential by giving them transferable skills which they can apply in their careers. That is why I choose to be in the Talent & Development team. Having the opportunity to improve the life of individual staff members as well as the organisation as a whole is truly gratifying.

2) Tell us about the Duke-NUS’ New Joiners Orientation Programme

The quarterly orientation programme for new joiners takes place in a relaxed setting whereby participants learn about the school in a fun and interactive manner. There’s also a mini meet and greet session where they get to meet the Senior Management team. The orientation programme has been very well received by the participants and was awarded Bronze in last year’s HRM Asia Awards for the Best on-boarding experience.

3) Introvert or Extrovert?

Evonne:  I’m a hybrid! You need to know me well enough to see the extreme side of me. Mao can attest to that.

Mao: I am definitely an introvert although nobody believes me. Most times I am very calm and relaxed, to a point where people can’t understand why I am so relaxed when I’m faced with difficult situations.

4) Team Dynamics means

Evonne: Team work and positive energy. It is like a boat braving a storm. With a common goal in mind, positivity and teamwork, the boat will reach its destination.

Mao: Simple, 1+1= >2. Every individual is unique and that makes a team perfect. Once we accept each team members’ strengths and weaknesses, we can complement and tap on that strength and excel as a team. 

I think Evonne and I complement each other rather well. She’s the sweet one so our colleagues prefer to talk to her. I don't have a sweet voice so I sit quietly at the back to concentrate on my training strategies.

Evonne knows how to unwind!

5) About the Duke-NUS Learning Fiesta…

Evonne: We wanted to create a learning vibe in Duke-NUS so we came up with an idea to organise one workshop/seminar a week for our colleagues. This is also the first time we rolled out eLearning - flexibility and convenience are essential factors for staff especially when their schedules are so packed.

Mao:  I always wanted to attend a training with multiple topics, simply due to my short attention span. That was why I suggested the inaugural Learning Day back in 2014. While Learning Day was a fun and interesting experience, we recognised that many colleagues were unable to attend the full day’s training due to work commitments. Hence we introduced Learning Fiesta as the revamped version – minimum one short training each week to minimise the time needed to be away from work and maximise the chances that people will attend.

6) When I’m not at work…

Evonne: I recently picked up DIY terrarium and it is so much fun! I get to decorate the cute little green house bottles the way I like. The best part, I don’t even need to water the terrarium and it still survives on its own!

Mao: Before my kid came along, I used to have lots of hobbies. Now, my only hobby is jogging, although I’m sad to say I am quite out of shape. I love jogging because it declutters my mind and allows me to develop solutions more effectively.

Mao & family

7) If you had a chance to have dinner with a famous personality, who would it be?

Evonne: David Beckham! An extraordinary man and one of the most charitable stars I know. He is an ambassador for UNICEF, owning his own charitable trust and helping the needy regularly. It also helps that he’s good looking with a heart of gold.

Mao: This is tough. But I would love to meet Jeremy Clarkson, BBC TV Show Top Gear’s former presenter who is loud, brash, and cannot be taken too seriously. Maybe it’s because of his unique personality but his solid talent as a presenter is undeniable.

8) Your personal/professional goals for the future?

Evonne: Upgrading my skills and knowledge further to ensure a well-rounded foundation and understanding of the entire HR spectrum. I want to continue contributing to talent development and staff retention, and creating a positive learning culture that will impact employees positively.

Mao: Equipping myself with relevant skills for future needs is crucial. After all, there is a limit to how high one can climb the corporate ladder, but there is no limit to the knowledge one can gain.