Jessica Tieng has been working with CfBT since 2019 and has experienced remarkable career progression within just a year. She graduated in 2014 from a university abroad, majoring in health and social care. After graduating, she faced challenges finding a job in the competitive market. Despite the difficulties, she started her career as a teacher’s assistant in one of the international schools in Brunei, teaching for about four years. This initial job sparked her passion for teaching others.
However, the role did not fulfil her dream of having her own students, as she had been assisting rather than teaching. Determined to make her dream come true, she pursued a master’s in teaching at UBD to gain teaching certification and qualify as a teacher. Unexpectedly, her journey towards realising her dream began when she accompanied her friend to a career fair at UBD in 2019. Although she had no intention of applying for another job initially, everything changed when she stumbled upon CfBT’s booth representing the Training and Learning Centre (TLC) at the fair. Despite the absence of specific job openings, she took a leap of faith and submitted her CV to CfBT, not expecting anything in return.
Fortuitously, there was a part-time vacancy as an English teacher at CfBT’s Training and Learning Centre, and she immediately seized the opportunity. The role aligned perfectly with her aspirations, finally allowing her to have her own students. As she transitioned from her previous school to teach at CfBT, she reported directly to the Director of Studies. In addition, she temporarily filled in as a receptionist for three months, covering for a team member while they were away.
As a teacher, Jessica was finally able to put her knowledge from her master’s degree into practice. Although she loved being a teacher, there were moments of uncertainty when she questioned whether she was truly making a difference and helping her students grow. However, the positive feedback from her students, who are now pursuing their dreams of studying abroad at universities in the UK and the US, reassured her that she was doing her best to serve them.
Her role as a trainer for corporate clients also provided fulfilling moments. One of her proudest achievements as a trainer was delivering a course called “Impactful Presentations.” Witnessing the growth in her students’ confidence, compared to before and observing the clients she assisted in building English language proficiency and confidence through corporate courses, filled her with pride.
It was her genuine desire to witness her students and clients succeed that kept her going, even during challenging times. She drew energy from their successes and her eyes lit up when she said:
“I’m just happy that I am making an impact on their personal growth”
In early 2020, the news arrived that the Director of Studies was planning to leave Brunei for another role, necessitating an immediate replacement. Jessica’s career took an unexpected turn when Robert Tunnell, the head of the Training and Learning Centre, recommended her to the recruitment team for the position. After going through the standard recruitment process, Jessica was promoted to the role. Within just a year, her career had progressed rapidly, bringing with it new responsibilities.
Having no prior management experience, Jessica found herself on a steep learning curve. She had to confront her own vulnerabilities while managing a team and ensuring that she maintained her teaching standards.
“It took me 6 months to a year to adjust to a new role, and I am still learning. Now every Monday I will check up on my team to see if they need any support.”
When asked what attracted her most to working in CfBT’s TLC section, Jessica provided an alternative definition of TLC as “tender-loving care”; she felt this quite literally while working here.
She expressed her love for the job’s flexibility, with a fluid schedule that allows her to network with people from various companies, especially when delivering corporate training courses.
The growth opportunities and constant support from her colleagues were additional factors that motivated her to produce high-quality work with integrity—a value she strongly connected with.
“I always feel like I should do the right thing. For example, I have a lot on my plate, right? There are some days I don’t feel like planning for my lessons because I’m just so tired. Like, can’t I just give independent work for them to do for the whole hour? Sometimes I feel like doing that, but I know that’s not the right thing to do! I should always have good quality lessons. So, the right thing to do is for me to plan well and make sure my class is interactive and that I put my heart into it.”
She always strives to do the right thing, even on days when she feels overwhelmed with her workload. For Jessica, integrity also means being honest with her line manager when she cannot meet a deadline. Instead of neglecting the work, she expresses her concerns and requests support, knowing that she will always receive it.
When asked about the origins of her passion and deep care for her students, Jessica fell silent to think deeply about her answer. She explained that she felt responsible for her students’ growth before revealing a personal answer.
“I think I can talk a bit about this. I think growing up… I had a tough childhood, and I just don’t want them to feel what I felt before.
I just want to make sure that they are taken care of.”