Susan Worthington is Head of HR at Dulwich College (Singapore) and joined the College in December 2013. She was part of the founding team who opened the College in August 2014. In this article she tells us about the time she got to the tiebreaker of a national TV game show, how living in Japan started her journey into HR for education and recommends us her favourite book of 2018.
Where else in the world have you lived?
I grew up in Queensland, Australia. I did a gap year in Nagano in Japan for one year after school and then returned to Japan after university where I taught English in a government school for three years on the JET Programme. I then spent 12 years in the UK, which included over four years in Belfast.
Tell us about your family.
I am married to Mark, who is founder and co-owner of Klareco Communications, a communications consultancy here in Singapore. We have two daughters at Dulwich College (Singapore); Bella is in Year 7 and Milly is in Year 5. I am the youngest of five children and have a huge extended family back in Queensland. I love to get back and visit them, especially at Christmas.
What is your favourite weekend activity in Singapore?
I coach netball for ANZA on Saturday mornings and have been doing this for several years now. I absolutely love netball, and enjoy seeing the girls improve over the course of the season. Other than that I enjoy getting to F45 classes and playing tennis at the Dutch Club as much as I can. When the weather allows our family loves to hike around Bukit Timah Nature Reserve or MacRitchie Reservoir Park.
Did you always want to work in HR?
My degree is in education and Japanese and I had planned to return to Australia to teach Japanese after a few years in Japan. Life got in the way, however, and I met my British husband in Japan and never made it back to Australia. There was not a lot of call for Japanese teachers in South West London, so after six months of supply teaching I took up a role with Yakult, the Japanese drinks company, and fell into HR at that point. Since then, I have been lucky to hold a variety of roles with diverse organisations which have kept me interested and engaged, and I have never quite found my way back to the classroom. I think that working in HR in the education sector seems like a good intersection of my background and experience.
What is your favourite book and who is your favourite author?
I am a very keen reader and always have a book on the go. I read anything and everything – especially if it comes recommended. My favourite read of 2018 was written by one of our very own Dulwich parents, Alice Clark-Platts, and is called ‘The Flower Girls’. It is a real page-turner and a story that will stay with you long after you finish it. I have too many favourite books and authors to name just one, but if you ever want to talk books and need some recommendations come and speak to me – I will happily talk books all day long.
Tell us about a hidden talent or a top secret that no-one would know about you.
I was once on a national TV game show with one of my sisters back in Australia. We lost in the tiebreaker and she has never forgiven me!
Which five people would you invite to a dinner party, dead or alive?
This is really hard! Barack Obama, Turia Pitt, Serena Williams, James Taylor, Michael McIntyre. All alive, so may yet happen!
What does a typical day at the College look like for you?
No two days are ever the same. I spend a lot of time working on recruitment for the College, so I am often reviewing applications and interviewing. My team looks after the full spectrum of HR functions including payroll, MOM passes, professional learning, and employee relations. We have 350+ staff working at the College now so it is always busy!
Do you have a motto or saying that really resonates with you?
'Kindness costs you nothing.' I also think that resilience is one of the most important traits to have and to foster in our children, so ‘…it’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get back up again’.
Do you have a most memorable Dulwich moment?
Seeing the first students walk through the doors in August 2014, including my own daughters. It was very special, and a huge relief!