Building the Foundations of Leadership

Halogen ventured into building their academy eight years ago. We find out how the foundations were laid and what it hopes to achieve for youths and educators.

After taking the plunge to kick-start Events, another opportunity awaited Halogen. As teachers attended the NYLDs, they saw how their students were inspired. The question they had after the events was, “How can the inspiration be sustained?” They suggested to Halogen to conduct leadership workshops. That request led to the birth of Halogen’s first leadership workshop at Temasek Secondary School and the Young Leaders Academy.

Stepping out to start the Academy was no easy feat. It was a whole new ball game. It required different skill sets, capabilities and structures. While starting it up, what came next leapfrogged Halogen’s capabilities.


At that time, Halogen’s co-founder Jeffrey Yip was working as a researcher in the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL©), a top-ranked global provider of executive education focused on leader- ship development. One day, he had an opportunity to meet the then Managing Director of CCL© Asia-Pacific, Mr Michael Jenkins, where he shared passionately about Halogen.

As a result of this vision and passion alignment, CCL© agreed to donate their leadership guidebooks. This was a huge win. This meant that Halogen was able to use leadership materials produced by CCL© for schools in their Everyday Leadership(TM) modules. The materials included the latest in pedagogy and leadership content. “It was this generous support from CCL© that made a huge impact on the students we teach,” said Martin Tan, Halogen’s co-founder and executive director.

To add to that, in 2005, Martin attended The Leadership Challenge® Workshop when Jim Kouzes, co-author of the award-winning and best-selling book, The Leadership Challenge® first came to Singapore. Martin then advanced to the facilitator training and became one of the pioneer facilitators to train students with the same material, way before The Student Leadership Challenge® came about.

Over the years, Halogen continued to deliver this programme, aligning with the core belief of The Leadership Challenge® that leadership is everyone’s business. Today, there are seven certified facilitators in the Halogen Team. Together, they have trained 5,400 students for The Student Leadership Challenge® and 580 educators for The Leadership Challenge®. As the exclusive certification partner for The Student Leadership Challenge® for Asia-Pacific since 2012, Halogen has also certified 39 other facilitators.

Key Stakeholders

As Halogen reaches out to youths, we discovered the importance of other stakeholders in youth leadership development, especially the educator. “The reality is that teachers spend way more time with the students than we ever will. While the inspiring leadership lessons we teach last a short time for most students, a teacher can keep this inspiration going on for days, weeks, months and even years. With the relationship they have with the students, they can bring them on a journey from learning to application to life change,” says Sean Kong, Halogen’s Deputy CEO.

Another key stakeholder is the volunteer. Together with the staff, volunteers play an active role. Halogen’s Chief of Staff Pearl Pang says, “In Halogen, we want to build young leaders, and that includes our volunteers. We want to provide a platform for them to live out their passion – impacting other youths. As they train, our hope is that they will internalise the values we hold close – that leadership is indeed influence. Through our training for them and the public speaking opportunities, they can hone their communication skills that adds value to their varsity and professional life”.


More often than not, the staff and volunteers dart from one end of Singapore to another, sometimes in the early hours of the morning. What keeps them going?

“There were times I wanted to throw in the towel. However, seeing the look of understanding on the faces of the students, the growing belief in themselves that they can influence and make a difference, fuels me every time,” says Vanessa Yap, Academy executive at Halogen.

Building the Foundations of Leadership

Kenneth Heng, also an Academy executive at Halogen, recounted a recent training, “I walked into a normal technical class and every single student showed complete disinterest. I paused the planned session and shared about my personal experiences of low self-esteem. Then I asked them what was the one thing they would like to be remembered for. A Secondary Two boy stood up, looked at me in the eye and said, “I want people to know that I have integrity.” Shortly, another followed and said, “I am smart”. Another said “I have pride in my work” and this just went on. In that experience, I discovered that each student has a great propensity to shine.”

Another encouraging story is that of Timothy James Adman Conde, a Secondary Three East View Secondary School student who attended The Student Leadership Challenge® workshop. He shared, “After the workshop I am much more open-minded, looking for every opportunity to improve on what we can. With the practices taught to us by the Halogen team especially ‘inspire a shared vision’ and ‘enable others to act’, I am now able to effectively share my vision to my peers and let them see what we can achieve from my view and allow them to act accordingly.”

“After the workshop I am much more open-minded, looking for every opportunity to improve on what we can. With the practices taught to us by the Halogen team especially ‘inspire a shared vision’ and ‘enable others to act’, I am now able to effectively share my vision to my peers and let them see what we can achieve from my view and allow them to act accordingly.” – Timothy James Adman Conde, Participant

In the next decade, the Academy aims to further impact educators and students. “Over the last ten years, we have gleaned many valuable global and local insights. With the insights and experience, we want to equip educators with the latest knowledge, skills and tools, so that together, we can fully develop the leadership potential of our youths. Each school will be able to increase their internal capacity of building young leaders,” says Sean.

Keeping in step with how youths are engaged, the Academy is deliberately moving into the digital space and employing experiential learning methods such as applied drama. A complementary leadership entrepreneurship track will also be introduced. In October 2013, Halogen inked a partnership with the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship to certify trainers and teachers for entrepreneurship training.

The Academy is never stagnant but always innovating. As Vanessa puts it aptly, “Staying in this line of work keeps me on my toes and open to learning new things.” While it keeps moving, the Academy is grounded in strong foundations to build deep foundations in young leaders.

Article by Jael Chng 

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