Mr. Taranjeet Singh (Class of 1984)

Mr. Taranjeet Singh and his son
Mr. Taranjeet Singh and his son

 

We recently got in touch with Taranjeet Singh to ask if he can share his experiences with the alumni community.

Taranjeet joined Garden School in Junior 3 after spending his early childhood in the UK as a result of his father reading Law at the Inns of Court. Taranjeet was the Head Boy and he witnessed many changes to the school by the time he graduated in 1984. He’s had to move to 3 campuses as Garden School expanded. He started at Jalan Stonor, then Jalan Kia Peng, and finally Cheras.

Fond memories of classmates, great relationships, good comradeship and excellent teachers were some of the things that he remembered most about Garden School. One of his most memorable experiences was the weekly assembly in Form 5 when he had the attention of the entire student body. Not only was he representing the students and the prefectorial board of the school, he was equally responsible for resolving and addressing student related issues from the school’s viewpoint. That’s when he learnt how to strike a balance with the 2 roles at only 17 years old.

Since his early years, Taranjeet was very much exposed to the field of law. After graduating from Garden School, he continued with A-Levels in the Methodist College (formerly known as Methodist High School) and later obtained his Joint Honours in Law and Computer Sciences at the University of Keele in the UK. When asked what inspired him to choose his field of study, he answered that it was the environment that he was brought up in. “I did not see myself doing anything other than Law. It allowed me to piece an argument in a logical fashion and adapt it as I went along. Besides, it is a great discipline to have no matter which field you eventually decide to venture into. Computer Science on the other hand, provided me with the algorithmic thought process which was crucial for problem solving.”

After qualifying as a black letter lawyer, Taranjeet practised in his father’s firm. He eventually went on to undertake the Master of Laws in 1991 at the University of Western Australia (UWA). Concurrently, he worked as a Legal Assistant to the Senior Legal Counsel in an oil & gas company and obtained his Bar conversion with the High Court of Australia. It was also during that time that he was invited to teach and tutor in the Faculty of Law at UWA.
Credits are given to Mrs. Philips as one of his key motivators for doing better in the English language. According to Taranjeet, Mrs. Philips motivated him to be “constantly better than yesterday”. He shared that Garden School has shaped him well during his formative years and the discipline, positive feedback and encouragement from the teachers remained with him to-date. “Firstly, there was a level of accountability and independence that was inculcated in high school. The teachers left it to you so you were responsible for your own thing. We were given some level of freedom and flexibility, yet with some discipline. Secondly, the ability to push oneself. I was not very good in Math back then but one of my Math teachers, Ms Wong, was willing to help me by giving me additional support. This has had a great impact on me. The fact that the teacher was willing to invest her personal time out of school hours meant a lot to me. And honestly, it was this belief that she had in me that motivated me even further.”
After spending a good 8 years overseas, he decided that it was time to return to commence his career in Malaysia. He joined the management-consulting arm of Price Waterhouse (PW). Despite the tight schedules in client engagements, he went on to pursue an MBA through a distance-learning program with the University of Keele between 1998 and 2000. With that, he has had to take 1 month off every year and head off to the UK for research. Whilst there, he was invited as a visiting speaker to share his experiences with new MBA students. It was during this time he developed a non-examinable Change Management elective for the University, which was to be held over a 3-4 day period. He continued to teach as a visiting lecturer at both the Universities of Keele and Birmingham for several years. “A key take away that the MBA program provided me was that we are capable of doing a whole lot more than we think or believe that we can”.

Taranjeet feels he is someone who is always looking to improve himself, through experiences, education, and exposure. He joined a strategy boutique firm and had the opportunity to work with the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) in evaluating the competitive landscape of the country and giving insights and recommendations to further enhance sectorial growth in Malaysia. His other achievements included overseeing the talent space and consulting on a regional level with the Hewitt Associates. It was considered one of the toughest times of his career, a job that requires frequent travelling; thus taking him away from his wife and newborn son. He however gained regional exposure by managing projects that spanned across Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia.

Today, Taranjeet is a Managing Consultant with the Hay Group and “plays”, as he terms it, in the Human Capital space. He prides himself in the work that he does in supporting organizations translate visions and strategies into day-to-day operational work. During the course of his consulting work over the past 2 decades, he has worked with financial institutions, automotive manufacturers, oil and gas companies, sovereign wealth agencies, and nuclear research agencies to the public sector ministries, agencies and statutory bodies. When asked about the best and worst bits about his job, he commented: “I’ve never done the same job twice. Every engagement I’ve been on for the last 19 – 20 years has been different and I’ve had the opportunity to meet exceptionally demanding clients where expectations are high. These clients push you to the next level of performance. They challenge you and that, allow you to become stronger in what you do. The satisfaction of my job comes from knowing that I am contributing positively to our society. As for the worst bits, frankly, there is none! I truly don’t feel like I am working. I am having fun and I am being paid to do it. You can’t get anything better than that!”

Would he have made the same choice if he was given a second chance? “Absolutely! I would have probably done my MBA sooner. This would have provided me insights into organizations and how they work, or not work, as the case may be.” For those who are interested in a similar career field as Taranjeet’s, his advice is “to come to the table with the ability to say that the proverbial glass is always half full, come with an open mind, a willingness to learn and the ability to persevere. You need to know that you don’t know it all because learning never stops. You are constantly morphing, changing and adapting.”

His advice to the current students: “Be clear of what you are passionate about, then work won’t become a chore. I wanted something different, something unconventional for my degree. That’s why I chose a degree in Law and Computer Sciences. Although I am not strictly practicing either disciplines today, my knowledge, understanding and appreciation derived from both subjects in terms of analytical skills, articulation and reasoning has most definitely contributed to what I am doing today.”

He also gave credits to the 2 Garden School teachers who taught him Geography – Mrs. Teo and Mrs. Yong. “Both of them were constantly opening up the minds of their students to the different types of things out there, beyond the Malaysian shores. The way they explained how the earth was formed is embedded in me until today, so much so that one of my electives in my degree course was Geology – just so I can understand how those plates move.”
Taranjeet enjoys doing his work tremendously and hopes that one day he’ll get to impart his knowledge and experiences through teaching after obtaining his PhD. He wants to help the next generation of leaders to learn on two fronts – one is by doing it yourself, and the other is by listening to what others have done, which in his words: “is a lot more productive and a lot less painful.”
Life isn’t just all work and no play for Taranjeet. He has recently taken up scuba diving as he is particularly intrigued by the subsea world. It’s a whole different world and it’s just meters below the surface. He’s also into long-distance running where he takes the opportunity to reflect inwardly with each stride he takes. Besides weekly kickboxing sessions, Taranjeet’s happiest moment is also a 20-min car ride when he drives his son, Soheil Singh to school each morning and their conversation about everything and anything. “Personally, I am very excited for my son to commence his learning journey in GIS and I am positive it will be an equally enriching learning path as the one I have experienced.” Soheil will be joining GIS this September!
Finally, Taranjeet attributes his successes to the very foundation that his parents laid for him when they enrolled him and his younger sister to Garden School years ago. His parents acknowledged the need for a solid educational foundation and to this end, had sacrificed much to put him and his sister through their primary and secondary schooling at Garden School, and for this he will be eternally grateful.
Through his stories and experiences, Taranjeet has proven that it pays to be someone who is constantly learning and adapting for a new tomorrow. Opportunities are given to those who are prepared. Just keep going and learning, and when the opportunity arises, you will be ready to grab it with both hands outstretched!
A BIG thank you goes out to Taranjeet for taking time out of his busy schedule for this interview.
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