Director of Culture & Heritage at the International Olympic Committee, Angelita Teo, talks to SRI

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Angelita Teo has started her new role as Director of Culture & Heritage with arguably one of the most iconic organisations in the world, the International Olympic Committee (IOC). SRI asks her about the secrets to her success, diversity in sport and what’s next for the Olympics.

Patrick Albrecht (PA): When did you know you wanted to be a leader? Did anyone help you along the way?

Angelita Teo (AT): Being a leader wasn’t something I thought about early on in my career. But as time went by, I had opportunities to lead teams, and realised that providing leadership and guidance was pivotal for the success of any organisation. I have also learned through my own experience that working with bosses who were clear and supportive of their staff, a lot more could be accomplished. Being decisive and able to clearly articulate the purpose and outcomes of the work to be done is probably one of the most critical skill for a good leader. It is also important to know when to give staff autonomy and when to step in and help to push things along.

PA: Why did you decide to study arts?

AT: I have always enjoyed watching documentaries as a child, especially ones about history and archaeology, therefore pursuing Anthropology and Archaeology at University was rather natural.

PA: How would you describe your career?

AT: Firstly, appreciating people, understanding that people are diverse, and therefore willing to try new approaches to the work we do. Always putting the audience at the centre when curating and developing projects. Secondly, taking the time to explain “why” to staff, getting them to have a sense of pride and ownership to the work they do. And thirdly, be willing to engage people even when at first they don’t agree with you. In other words, don’t only work with people who support your views. Seek out those who have important things to say or do, even if at first, it might seem tiresome. Finally, never be afraid to try uncharted territories.

PA: What was your first reaction when you heard about the IOC opportunity?

WOW! I immediately thought about the 1984 LA Olympics, which was the first Olympics I watched on television as a 12 year old. The impact that had on my friends and I in school, because we were so motivated by the strength of the athletes and the incredible feats they achieved. Fast forward to Rio 2016, when Joseph Schooling won the 1st gold medal for Singapore in 100m butterfly swimming event, I personally felt the sense of pride and witnessed the joy and pride Singaporeans had for months after. I knew the IOC opportunity will be one that would be more than amazing, one which I wanted to be a part of. I strongly believe that the spirit of the Olympics is still as relevant today as when it first started in 1894, if not more.

Read the rest of the interview > 

About the interviewer

Patrick Albrecht is a Partner and Leader of our Continental European operations at SRI, based in Switzerland. A pan-European expert with a formidable global network, Patrick leads the firm’s German and Swiss multi-lingual teams, in addition to advising and consulting on senior talent strategies for sporting goods and fashion brands, international sports federations and agencies.

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