Shaping Better Communicators

  • Source: Event
  • Article Date: 2/2/2018


About 321 PETRONAS ICT employees, who successfully completed several months of weekly Professional Business Skills Training offered by PETRONAS ICT's Communications Academy, received certificates on 15 December 2017.

Some 336 staff attended the Core Sessions and Masterclasses but only 321 were qualified to receive the certificates. To graduate, a staff must have an attendance rate of 80 per cent and complete all assessments on time.

In her welcoming speech, PETRONAS ICT’s Chief Leadership Officer and Head of Strategic Communications Michele Lum congratulated the employees for their commitment to completing their courses, a few of which lasted three months.

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These business communications courses have provided a platform for knowledge and skills enhancement that are valuable in the professional workplace. Having a high level of English language and communications proficiency raises one’s ability to articulate his/her ideas and create the right impression on their stakeholders. This, in turn, leads to better chances of getting promoted." - PETRONAS ICT’s Chief Leadership Officer and Head of Strategic Communications Michele Lum.
Spearheaded by PETRONAS ICT’s Strategic Communications, the Communications Academy facilitated the training programmes in response to the need to improve business communications across the company.

In 2016, it piloted its first sessions with British Council providing weekly two-hour sessions, which were held over a period of four to six months to employees ranging from the leadership ranks to the young graduates. By the end of 2016, 111 employees completed the course.

“It was a huge commitment for all involved. Even though there were only seven classes of about 20 participants each, we had many on the waiting list – all of whom were hungry to improve their communication skills,” said Michele.

In 2017, PETRONAS ICT Communications Academy expanded its offerings to cater to more employees. 

“We increased our reach by 476% from 127 employees in 2016 to 605 over two intakes (February and July) in 2017. We were also particularly pleased that our colleagues in Kertih were able to partake of these training programmes – all 61 of them,” she added.

As seats were limited, the learners had to sit for placement tests to determine their skill levels so that they could be placed at the appropriate classes.

The Communications Academy offered the following courses in partnership with British Council's certified trainers:

1. Core Sessions

A series of weekly in-session classes and tutorials taught over three months to deepen the employee’s foundation in business communications skills and English proficiency. In 2017, these courses were also made available to staff located in the Central and East Coast regions.

Employees who passed the assessment test spent two hours, once a week to learn business writing including emails, reports and proposals, presentation and negotiation skills, as well as refreshers on grammar rules.

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A Core Session class for staff in Kertih, Terengganu in session.
2. Masterclass

Two-hour, weekly classes were taught over three months for “passionate students of the English language and writing” to develop news and feature writing styles.

As part of their assessments, the learners were assigned to topics for their writing assignments (articles) to be published in ICT Bytes, PETRONAS ICT’s digital newsletter. Masterclass students received guidance and personal tutoring to improve their articles, which range from book reviews, tips and tricks, as well as leadership features before publication.

For the second intake, a Masterclass for Writing & Reviewing Board Papers was introduced for senior managers who are involved in writing or reviewing board papers.

3. Skills Booster

Monthly, 90-minute workshops for the more advanced communicators and those who seek one-off sessions to sharpen their skills. 

Topics covered in Skills Boosters last year included avoiding common grammatical errors, meetings and negotiation skills, as well as fine-tuning writing skills aimed at advanced learners.

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Participants completing a writing exercise during a Skills Boosters class on Fine-tuning Writing Skills.
​A Graduation Gift
As a graduation gift of sorts to the graduates, Communications Academy invited 2016 World Champion in Public Speaking Darren Tay Wen Jie from Singapore to impart some tips on becoming an effective speaker and the four “Powerful Pillars” of a story.​
“The four pillars (key words) are ‘Happiness’, ‘Purpose’, ‘Freedom’ and ‘Prosperity’. If you want to craft a powerful message, it needs to hit one or more of these pillars,” said Darren. To help the audience understand the concept better, he gave two examples of typical Facebook advertisements and asked them to identify which emotion the adverts would likely evoke in a reader. Earlier in the day, Darren conducted the “Express to Impress” workshop that saw more than 110 participants pick up new skills as Darren shared his personal journey to becoming a world champion. (Read the article he​re).
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2016 World Champion in Public Speaking Darren Tay Wen Jie (right) imparted tips on becoming an effective speaker and the four “Powerful Pillars” of a story.
The moment that the attendees were waiting for came after Darren ended his keynote speech to give way for the certificate presentation ceremony. English language trainer Ben Treverton awarded the certificates to the graduates on behalf of British Council, but not before giving a short speech to convey how much he enjoyed teaching Group ICT employees and that he had missed his students after the classes were over.


Some o​f the participants receiving their certificates of completion from British Council trainer Ben Treverton.
Experiential Learning

In closing, Michele invited those who were keen to sharpen their public speaking skills to consider participating in PESONA Toastmasters Club meetings in 2018. Last year, Communications Academy hosted 20 fortnightly PESONA Toastmasters Club meetings within the PETRONAS ICT office premises to bring world-class leadership and communications training to the employees.​​