Thank you to the 1646 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 questions! I hope reading 7 Questions with
Dr Vincent Chian
helps you in your leadership.
Dr Vincent Chian
Name: Dr Vincent Chian
Organisation: Fairview International School
Educator short bio 06/23
Dr Vincent Chian is a medical graduate from Manchester University and a former Psychiatry Registrar. With over 14 years of experience in education, he currently leads Fairview International School Malaysia as the Principal. Under his leadership, Fairview has won several awards , including the International School Award for Teaching and Learning 2021 for “ToolBox”, the skill development programme, achieving the 48th best IB Diploma score internationally and the top IBDP school in Malaysia in 2020, 2021 and 2022. His focus lies in the area of skill development, pastoral care and holistic education. He regularly speaks at several international conferences including the IB Global conference in 2013, 2022 and Edutech Asia.
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
My greatest challenge is to align business practicality with the evolving role of education in society. Balancing the need to be profitable against student needs.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I started out as an MYP Biology teacher, then leading the science department. I was given the opportunity to start the IBDP programme in 2011 and eventually was invited to be the principal in 2017.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I strongly believe in early morning starts and my day begins at 5am. Meditation, planning the day, reading and finally a short exercise before heading to school. After school its often when I really get work done in the privacy of my office and at home my time is reserved for my family.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
That reconciliation is more important than resolution. In disputes, when I focus on resolution, I end up in "my opinion vs your opinion" type conversations. However, when reconciliation is the focus, I tend to find that when parties are at peace with one another a difference in opinion can much more easily be resolved by searching for the middle ground or an alternative, co-created alternative solution.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
"First Break All the Rules" by Marcus Buckingham. It reiterated that it is neither my responsibility nor my privilege to change people. That led me to treat underperformed staff in a more respectful way, one that's focused on whats best for them instead of trying to change them.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
That books contain the combined wisdom of the past. Read, read, read. Do it voraciously, do it across different disciplines. We have as much to learn from a chef as we do from another principal if we can keep our minds open and lay down our prejudice.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
When I first started the IB Diploma, I focused on getting the highest grades. I got the teachers putting in extra hours to tutor the kids, bought revision programmes and worked them harder than ever. However, our grades never went past 34 out of 45. One day, after a conversation with one of my colleagues, we decided to support our young people in the way they needed supporting. They were stressed and needed comforting. They needed family and thats what we worked on. From team building to exercises getting to know one another to exercises of gratitude and recognition, we built our little family intentionally and strategically. After a year of "soft" work our class average went to 37 and we won the best IBDP school in Malaysia award. We haven't lost it since. I learnt that people cannot comply their way to excellence, they have to be inspired and supported to excellence.