“It’s so much more than just a job. I am always inspired by my work and my team.”
– Hanna Esa, Department Lead, Digital Learning Strategy
In seeking to better understand Three Learning’s workplace culture, our intern Shao Hao interviewed Ms. Hanna Esa, the head of the Digital Learning Strategy department. In this article, we gain a glimpse into Hanna’s experience at Three Learning, what inspires her and the qualities that she looks for in the people who wish to join her team.
How long have you been with Three Learning?
Hanna: “I’ve been with Three Learning since 11 June 2007, so that would be about 11 years.”
Describe your experience working at Three Learning.
Hanna: “It hasn’t been easy, but I enjoy the challenge as it helps me grow. My work is very multifaceted as there are many processes that go on behind-the-scenes in creating an effective and engaging learning solution. Our 3LDS process, for example, places emphasis on having a solid body of content before we even attempt to treat it with online activities and visual elements. Additionally, every project is interesting in its own way. For example, we did a project for a naval organisation, where we filmed video lessons on a boat in open waters! On a daily basis, I get to engage with a range of persons and personalities, such as our clients who are from government agencies as well as corporate companies, my own team (Learning Strategists), as well as team members from partnering departments (graphic design and programming), and I feel enriched by the perspectives they offer.”
What inspires you when you come to work?
Hanna: “I view my work as more than just a job. It is so much more. I am inspired by my team’s commitment, dedication and creativity. I love the moments where I get to interact with my team to think of unpredictable ideas based on what each of us has seen or heard. I find the creative process to be very satisfying. So, that’s during the project implementation phase. At project approval, I rejoice when we receive favourable feedback from our clients. These are affirmations of our hard work and they mean a lot to me because we dedicate our best efforts in each project, and we feel truly appreciated when we receive such feedback.”
Why do you feel that your job is important?
Hanna: “At the receiving end of each e-learning course is a learner, and my aim is that he/she is more skilled and is able to perform better at work and subsequently, improve his/her livelihood, as a result of taking up that e-learning course. This is my primary motivation to push myself or my team in offering the best possible learning solution, given the predetermined scope of the project.”
Would you describe yourself as a workaholic?
Hanna: (Laughs) “Yes, fortunately or unfortunately, I would. I take a lot of pride in my work and I always deliver my best efforts to our clients. I have, however, been trying to cultivate a better work-life balance in recent years.”
“I started working in Three Learning at a relatively young age, and I had more energy at that time. As the company was considerably new back then, we were still in the midst of establishing and putting in place proper processes for the development of our e-learning courseware, and this meant frequent staying back or staying up.”
“But now that the processes are more established, I rarely bring my work home. I try to maintain a healthy work-life balance and spend more time with my family, and I’m thankful that Three Learning is supportive of that.”
What are your thoughts about Three Learning’s workplace culture?
Hanna: “As with any company, there are the positives and negatives. As for the positives, I would say my team does not work in silos, meaning, we share the load and work as a team to get our jobs done. We treat one another with mutual respect, which I believe is a very basic but important quality to have at the workplace. There is also a healthy level of noise in the office – it is not uncommon to hear sudden buzzes of creative critiques, opinions, ideas and even jokes randomly shared with one another.”
“That being said, I think that certain aspects of our workplace culture can do with more improvement. For one, there can be greater empathy between the different departments. As our courseware developmental process is linearly carried out by different specialists, it can become rather segmented. As such, there is a tendency to overlook the challenges that another department is facing, especially when deadlines are tight. We could definitely do with more empathy for one another.”
What are 3 things you like most about working here?
Hanna: “The team, the place, and the flexibility. As I’ve mentioned earlier, I am inspired by my team’s commitment and dedication to our projects. I’ve never liked working in the CBD as I find the environment pretty stressful. I like our office’s location at Bukit Merah as the old neighbourhood has a special charm and quaintness that makes it a go-to place even on Monday mornings. I also enjoy the flexibility of working from home, a privilege that comes with the prerequisite of a track record of successful projects and satisfied clients, as well as unquestionable work ethic.”
What kind of people are you looking to have on your team?
Hanna: “Someone looking to become a Learning Strategist would typically ask – do I need a certification in instructional design (ID) to work with you? My answer would be – no, I won’t need any special ID qualification. However, depending on how you view it, my expectations could be simpler or more complex.”
“If I can put it simply, a potential team member who meets these 4 ‘basic’ requirements will be successful as a Digital Learning Strategist. He/she must:
(1) like to learn – read: is able to apply what he/she learns fast, is resilient in taking hard knocks
(2) like to teach – read: is always exploring new ways to communicate new knowledge effectively
(3) like to write – read: flawless grammar and a sound range of vocabulary in English
(4) have a sharp eye for detail – read: pick up errors fast.”
“So these are just basic requirements to joining the team. If I were to stretch it further, someone who is looking to take up Learning Strategy as his/her career needs to be equally analytical (left-brained) and creative (right-brained), as our work, really, is multi-faceted. He/she would also need to be very skilled in organisation and planning and impeccable people skills, be it in working with clients or team members.”
What is one thing you would say to your team to inspire and motivate them?
Hanna: “Never underestimate the impact you make to every learner that you create a courseware for. Even though our work arrangement dictates that we do not get direct contact with our learners, our work does impact their lives in ways we are not really able to fathom.”
Written by: Shao Hao, 3L Intern