Disrupt Yourself and Create Opportunities through Collaboration

Knowing what you are good at, and seeing how you can optimise those skills, can help you ride through economical changes.

We have heard of industries and businesses being completely disrupted. In fact, there are at least 5 key industries in Singapore that have already been disrupted: transportation, finance, healthcare, retail, and professional services.

But have you ever heard of people being disrupted as well?

This was the basis of Terence Chiew’s speaker session at the SkillsFuture Festival Executive Series @ WeWork co-organised by Emergenetics Asia Pacific and Lifelong Learning Institute. Titled ‘Disrupt, Optimise and Collaborate’, the Founder and Performance Consultant of Peet Asia demonstrated with numerous activities that people too can disrupt themselves and optimise the skills they possess, in three steps, so that they can remain relevant in the future of work. 

Step 1: Disrupt Yourself

How do you get out of your comfort zone?

For decades, people have worked to master a particular skill, hoping that the more you know, the more indispensable you become to the company. However, there is a slight danger in doing so, especially when industries move faster than skill mastery itself. Skills learnt may become irrelevant, resulting in many skilled professionals becoming redundant. In fact, up to 800 million workers worldwide are at risk of labour disruption between now and 2030.

It can be quite frightening to learn that one day you have a job, but the next day you don’t. To overcome this, Terence’s advice was to disrupt yourself. Don’t stay at the same place, be adaptable, and be comfortable with change.

It is a mindset that needs to be learnt and adopted before any real change can occur.


Step 2: Optimise

Do you know what skills you already possess? Do you know yourself better than anyone else in the room?

It’s useful to take stock of ourselves, and know what we do well in.

Terence had his audience write down their work experiences and the skills they had acquired in the last 10 years of working. He then asked each of us to create our own version of a pocket “Swiss Army Knife” – a curated armory of skills that can be used in any industry, field, or position. Terence called this our personal set of transferable skills – skills that can be easily transferred from place to place.

As I did the exercise, like most in the audience, it didn’t take long for me to realise that there was a mix of hard technical skills, and soft interpersonal skills that I had acquired either consciously or subconsciously in my years of working.

We were then told to optimise these skills, note down the different ways we can make the best or most effective use of these skills. What industries can these skills be applied in? What other job roles can these skills be used in? Can they be used in a different country?

The exercise of putting down these points on paper helped us consider and concretise our thoughts, beliefs and assumptions about ourselves. In doing the exercise myself, I realised that soft skills, rather than technical skills, were more transferable to other industries and roles.

Step 3: Collaborate

No man is an island. And when it comes to work, that saying is truer than what we realise. Companies are collaborating, brands are co-creating, and industries are blending their borders. Economies are shifting, and so should we.

Terence illustrated this by dividing the audience into groups. With each member having their portable “Swiss Army Knife” of skills, each group was to brainstorm and come up with a business idea, by optimizing each person’s skills.

The result was incredible. 5 different and unique ideas were borne in a short period of 15 minutes. The power of collaboration occurs when we put people together.

Is Change Easy to Adopt?

The steps outlined were simple enough to understand. But to follow? I was compelled to think just how easy it was to change the way we have always viewed work and the way we do things. Not everyone might find a “disrupting” mindset easy to adopt.

This led me to think about how the people generally differ in behaviours, as shown through the Emergenetics Profile, and how we can each find our own way to adopt a “disrupting” mindset. One such difference in people’s behavior is on the spectrum of Flexibility. On the Flexibility spectrum, there are those on the far right who tend to welcome change most of the time, and there those on the far left who prefer to stay focused most of the time, and still for others spreading in between – “it depends” most of the time. While tendencies do not dictate the ability to actually make changes, and we can certainly “flex” our behaviours, I believe change is easier to adopt when we understand ourselves. By knowing our behavioural tendencies, we can figure out strategies based on our own unique set of preferences to help us achieve our goals.

As the closing session for the entire SkillsFuture Festival Executive Series @ WeWork, I found the sharing resonating with the Opening Panel Discussion at the start of the series.  There was a great emphasis to be adaptable, to be agile, and to acquire more skills. Yet Terence also provided an alternative solution:

If we can’t acquire “more” skills, we can collaborate.

This article was originally published on the SkillsFuture Festival Executive Series @ WeWork

About the Speaker

Terence Chiew_Emergenetics Asia PacificMr Terence Chiew
Founder and Performance Consultant
Peet Asia

Terence Chiew is a performance consultant who specialises in helping businesses achieve desired performance results through human resources optimization. He is also a career transition coach and published author of the book, ‘Most Valuable Professional: What Every Employee Ought to Know About Staying Employable.’



Most Valuable Professional: What Every Employee Ought To Know About Staying Employable

Staying Employed Is Not Enough. You Need to Stay Employable.Most Valuable Professional Book Cover_Emergenetics Asia Pacific

Today’s workplace is an unpredictable one. The changing world of work brings many opportunities for employees, but just as many challenges too. Job security is no longer a given even if you have outstanding paper qualifications. To thrive in this competitive global environment, you need to shift your mindset and go beyond what you are doing now. You need to increase and prove your value to your current employer, and become an attractive and valuable asset that future employers will want to pursue.


Within the pages of Most Valuable Professional, you will learn how to:

  • Get Along with People of Different Personalities and Build Great Relationships at Work
  • Adapt Easily to Changes in the Workplace
  • Strengthen Your Job Position with Leadership and Authority
  • Enhance Your Brand’s Visibility Everywhere
  • Make Your Skills Traversable Anywhere

If you’re ready to become an MVP, this book is what you need!