Leon Choong

Leon Choong


Watch Leon's Story

President Kaplan Singapore
Master Arts (Communication Management)

Economists are easy to find, but not economists who are really good communicators. That was the message Leon Choong’s first employer gave him in the late 1990s, and it made quite an impact.

Information correct at the time of receiving the award

Leon had a good economics degree from a reputable university, as well as a fulfilling job with a leading eye surgery in Singapore, but his employer wanted a little more. He was looking for someone with the ability to reach out to people, present messages clearly and deal with difficult situations.

With that in mind, he recommended that Leon enrol in the Master of Arts (Communication Management) at UniSA. Leon had some reservations about pursuing a Masters degree while holding a hectic full-time job, but he liked the look of the program and went ahead and signed up.

Looking back 20 years later, he is still applying what he learnt. “The program was extremely practical and very useful,” he said. “It helped me learn how to deal with the media, to deal in crisis situations, honed up my public relations skills and helped me develop my cross-cultural communication skills as well.”

Leon still has fond memories of his first employer, and not just for motivating him to go back to university. “He taught me that you could be extremely busy, yet stay totally on your toes at all times, and do so much to help the world and be a better man. His values were excellent.”

Leon carried those same values with him when he stepped into the education industry, initially with the Asia Pacific Management Institute for six years and then, from 2005, with Kaplan, one of the world’s largest education providers globally.

He was the Regional Operations Director for Kaplan Higher Education in Hong Kong before returning to Singapore at the start of 2007. There Kaplan has over 30,000 students from across 30 countries worldwide pursuing a comprehensive range of academic programs, professional qualifications and training courses.

Leon filled a variety of positions before he was appointed President of Kaplan Singapore in 2015. Over the years has played a pivotal role in helping create one of the most respected private education institutions in the ASEAN Economic Community, and one that is regularly recognised with a variety of prestigious awards.

It is with some measure of pride that this expansion has been achieved while Leon retained his core educational values. Among many professional achievements, Leon was recently elected President of the Singapore Association for Private Education.

“Educational innovation is very important to us living in this part of the world,” he said. “There are many millions of people in South East Asia who don’t have access to education in the same way that that you do in Australia or other parts of the west. So we have to be creative to find answers and solutions for these people.”

Leon still maintains links with UniSA – working closely with academic and professional staff on a variety of projects – and returns to Adelaide when he can. As a keen cyclist (he alternates between riding and kayaking most weekends to “free the mind for the week ahead”), he was delighted when a recent visit coincided with the Tour Down Under.

“On the way down, two teams that I follow closely were on the same plane. Being seated right there in the midst of them and participating in their friendly banter throughout the flight was the most enjoyable seven hours of my life.”