Teo Jin Lee: A Visionary Leader in Learning and Consulting

Teo Jin Lee stands as a visionary leader, embodying purpose, resilience, and innovation in the realm of learning and consulting. As the Founder and Managing Director of ODE Consulting® Pte. Ltd., her journey unfolds as a testament to her unwavering commitment to making a difference in the lives of individuals and organizations.

A Transformative Journey

With a diverse background that spans teaching, corporate leadership at IBM, and entrepreneurial ventures, Jin’s story is one of transformation and continuous growth. Her leadership philosophy, grounded in a blend of technology and

humanity, positions ODE Consulting at the forefront of organizational development excellence.

Let’s delve into the remarkable trajectory of Teo Jin Lee, a leader who has not only weathered storms but danced in the rain of challenges, steering her company toward global prominence.

Making a Difference Through Learning and Consulting

In her younger adult years, Jin initially aspired to be a teacher, yet a stint in relief teaching led her to the realization that it wasn’t her true calling. However, the trajectory of her career took an upward turn after graduating

from the National University of Singapore. A Marketing Representative role at IBM Singapore set her on a path that would eventually lead to the establishment of ODE Consulting in 1996.

“Making a difference is my purpose in life,” declares Jin. Her gratitude and faith have been pillars that have lifted her spirits and fortified her as an individual throughout the years. Contemplating her 28-year journey, she underscores

the significance of the chosen path. Jin articulates, “When I think about making a difference and choosing the path I’ve chosen, I could have done many things with my life. But I chose this.” For her, true success lies in the impact

on individuals in the learning space, coaching, or consulting, illustrated by the moment when someone approaches her at the end of a project, expressing newfound confidence.

Deeply rooted in her family’s DNA is a passion for teaching and making a difference. Her father, brother, sister, and youngest brother have all been involved in training people. Despite facing challenges as a relief teacher in a primary

school, Jin discovered fulfillment in teaching secondary school students. The allure of corporate life at IBM eventually drew her in, where she spent many years. Recalling her time there, she affirms, “It’s still one of the best companies that I have been privileged to work for.”

Jin’s Journey into Consulting

Jin’s journey took a defining turn when she ventured into Asia-Pac consulting, specializing in strategic planning and executive education. Describing this phase, she notes, “That kind of cemented what I truly loved.” Despite the challenges

posed by a woman in leadership during the competitive and male-dominated era of the late ’90s, the opportunity to start her own business in 1996 was enticing. Jin reflects on that period, acknowledging, “Starting a business back

in 1996 was quite a difficult time. It coincided with the Asian Financial Crisis.”

The Pre-ODE Consulting Journey: Nurturing Dreams Within IBM

In reflecting on her professional journey before establishing ODE Consulting, Jin brings attention to her substantial tenure at IBM, which provides insights into the transformative roles that significantly contributed to shaping her

formidable leadership skills. Throughout this period, she found fulfillment in various roles, notably excelling as an account manager in enterprise business and a competitive win-back sales representative, earning the esteemed title of Advisory Representative.

A significant turning point arose when she assumed the role of curriculum owner at the Asia Pacific Entry Level Training Centre and played a pivotal role in managing a team responsible for training over 3000 individuals in the Asia

Pacific region. This reignited her passion for learning, this time focusing on adults. Jin’s evolution continued as she was given the opportunity to move into consulting, serving as the Asia Pacific program manager in executive education

and programs within IBM. This experience fueled her interest and zeal for consulting, driving her to pursue this aspiration further within IBM.

A Corporate Odyssey Shaping Leadership and Entrepreneurship

Acknowledging the invaluable training received from IBM, Jin emphasizes the importance of acquiring skills such as sales acumen and an understanding of human dynamics. This foundational learning, complemented by real-world challenges, played a pivotal role in molding her into an astute and insightful leader.

As she transitioned into the realm of entrepreneurship, Jin drew upon the resilience instilled during her corporate days when faced with initial struggles at IBM. Reflecting on her determination, she recalls a pivotal moment where

she almost left IBM, but through self-talk and a firm assertion that “if I can’t get through a year here, what makes me think I’ll be successful anywhere else?” This unwavering perseverance became a cornerstone of her success and resilience in the entrepreneurial sphere.

Jin’s corporate trajectory, which encompassed diverse roles, helped cultivate tenacity and adaptability, pivotal attributes that would prove instrumental in her entrepreneurial pursuits. Jin’s transition into enterprise systems and subsequent foray into consulting further broadened her skill set, laying the foundation for her true passion to emerge.

Jin’s journey, marked by determination, consistency, and an unyielding passion for excellence, beautifully illustrates the dynamic interplay between her corporate experiences and the entrepreneurial spirit that defines her leadership today. The lessons learned and skills honed during her tenure at IBM laid the solid foundation for Jin to evolve into the impactful and resilient leader and entrepreneur she embodies today.

Navigating Challenges and Thriving in Business

In 1997, Jin embarked on her entrepreneurial journey with Strategic Management Group (SMG), facing an inaugural year marked by the challenges of the Asia Economic Crisis and subsequent Global Economic Crisis. This period initiated

a pattern of resilience, encapsulated in her guiding mantra: “Life isn’t waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain.” Over the subsequent years, the company weathered crises like the Dot com crisis, 9/11, SARs, the Global Financial Crisis, and the recent COVID pandemic, staying true to the founding intent: Making a Meaningful Impact.

Jin’s vision, “Accelerate Business Results by Delivering Value as an Enabler of Change,” endures as the backbone of the company, consistently fulfilling promises to clients through its core values: P.A.S.S.I.O.N. F.A.S.T. Despite challenges as a woman entrepreneur, Jin draws from her tenure at IBM, which laid a solid foundation for her business acumen. A crucial lesson from those years was the responsibility to build one’s marketability—a principle that has guided her entrepreneurial path.

Reflecting on the late ’90s, Jin acknowledges the difficulty of being a woman in leadership but emphasizes that, despite initial challenges, she never felt discriminated against or biased in business. The success of the business goes beyond individual contributions and is also the result of the dedicated work of the entire team.

Discussing the business’s transformative vision, Jin invites reflection on the commitment to supporting individuals through change. Her emphasis on learning, coaching, and consulting underscores the aim of helping people and organizations internalize and operationalize transformations.

Responding to challenges, Jin sees them as opportunities for growth, fostering a growth mindset that leads to continuous innovation. In Jin’s narrative, challenges are not obstacles but stepping stones toward sustained success and perpetual evolution.

Evolution of Learning in a Changing Business Landscape

Since 1996 with the establishment of ODE Consulting® (where ODE means Organisation Development Excellence), Jin has witnessed an observable change as far as how people learn. She shared that “People don’t want to be taught anymore since everything is ‘Googable’.”

Another key observation Jin mentioned is that learning has to be directly applicable and practical to an individual’s life and work. “We facilitate learning by ensuring that we can draw it out from the people. People learn most when

it comes from them, not from someone else.” This shift aligns with the current preference of learners for experiential learning.

Jin places a spotlight on the evolving dynamics of learning, coaching, and consulting, stressing the imperative to adapt to challenges like organization culture change and the need for continuous recalibration of the business. This underscores the vision of ODE in assisting clients through volatile environments marked by disruption, volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and diversity.

With its footprint across Asia Pacific, Europe, and the USA, ODE has also been recognized as an Approved Training Organization (ATO) over past 15 years, offering programs in the areas of Strategy, Leadership, Change Management, and

Communication, funded by the Singapore Government. This underscores ODE’s continuous commitment to quality and excellence.

Pioneering Organizational Development Excellence

Guided by Jin’s leadership, ODE has emerged as a frontrunner in organizational development leveraging technology to aid experiential learning. The Outcomes Measurement Portal (OMP)™ which measures the Return on Investment (ROI) of

learning up to Kirkpatrick levels 3 and 4, as well as computer-based simulations that are grounded in real-life scenarios, foster situational adaptability and decision-making skills.

Jin envisions ODE leveraging technological integration while seamlessly blending soft skills with cutting-edge technology. The most recent P.R.I.ME Avobot® platform champions the future of learning and was developed as the career companion for learners. This groundbreaking initiative, set to launch by the end of the 1st quarter provides a psychologically safe anonymous and confidential platform where real coaches and coachees come into a coaching session as Avatars and are helped with their work-based challenges. This is in line with the 70/20/10 model, which postulates that people learn best on-the-job (70%), when they encounter challenges.

Navigating the Intersection of Technology and Humanity

Whilst embracing technology, Jin advocates for a balanced approach, recognizing the importance of intertwining the hard side of technology with the soft side of human-centricity. She underscores the delicate equilibrium required between technology and people, sparking a discussion on whether the approach should be purely technological or a nuanced blend. In this regard, Jin greatly emphasizes the irreplaceable value of human engagement.

She addresses the ongoing debate about artificial intelligence’s (AI) dominance, advocating for a cautious approach to ensure technology remains human-centric. She contends that the essence lies in striking a balance, leveraging technology

for efficiency while preserving the human touch essential for meaningful outcomes. For Jin, this delicate balance ensures that humans guide and shape technology rather than the reverse.

Mastering Leadership Challenges and Seizing Opportunities

As Managing Director of ODE, Jin elucidates her multifaceted roles, from occasionally setting the strategic direction to assuming consultant and facilitator roles. She emphasizes the collaborative effort with her dedicated team, anchoring

their work in the company’s core values that serve as guiding principles, fostering collective alignment and a clear vision for the business, even in the face of challenges.

Jin aligns her leadership approach with the teachings of the Leadership Challenge®, emphasizing the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership: Model the Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, Enable Others To Act, and Encourage the Heart. She views leadership as an ongoing journey, emphasizing the importance of doing the right things even when they are tough.

Reflecting on her journey so far, Jin takes pride in her contributions, blending thought leadership, innovation, and dedication to driving transformation. She sees awards and accolades not just as symbols of success but as testament to the team’s hard work. As a woman leader, Jin strives to break barriers, challenge stereotypes, and create an inclusive workplace. Her leadership journey is about inspiring people to realize their potential and pursue their dreams.

In the dynamic consulting and training industry, Jin views competition not as mere rivalry but as a force driving continuous improvement, urging a focus on staying ahead of trends. She deems competition as essential, necessitating constant adaptation, representing both a threat and an opportunity for driving growth and innovation in the industry.

Looking to the future, Jin details a global expansion strategy, leveraging established roots in Singapore, India, and China. By emphasizing a nimble growth approach through a global partner network, Jin underscores the importance of reliable collaborators and continuous network expansion.

Committed to adaptability, ODE prioritizes agility and responsiveness to effectively address challenges that individuals are facing at work, and be able to empower them to combine the use of technology with soft skills.

Guiding Aspiring Leaders in the Consulting Industry

Jin imparts valuable insights to aspiring leaders, emphasizing the importance of building robust networks and relationships in the industry. She highlights the value of a dedicated team and advises aspiring leaders to articulate their unique value proposition in the competitive business landscape.

As a female leader and entrepreneur, Jin sees empowering the next generation of women as a privilege and responsibility. She believes in setting a positive example and being a role model. Through her work in learning, coaching, consulting, and mentoring, as well as volunteering in non-profit organizations, Jin actively contributes to the transformative journey of fellow women leaders.

Her voluntary roles on boards over the years, such as the International Association of Coaching (IAC®) and the Infant Jesus Home and Children Center, to name a few, provide platforms to use her experience for the betterment of society.

The Art of Compartmentalization

Jin, sharing insights into her multifaceted life, adeptly manages roles as an entrepreneur, wife, mother, friend, and social advocate. Employing compartmentalization, she immerses herself wholly in work or family when needed, finding joy in each facet of her journey. Rooted in a growth mindset, Jin steers clear of regrets. With grown children and supportive parents, she underscores the importance of family and intentional time management, navigating her responsibilities with a stress-free mindset.

Jin’s guiding principle revolves around passion and the love for what you do without regret. In terms of advice for aspiring female leaders, Jin imparts the rules she lives by, such as living with passion, staying focused, looking boldly ahead, learning from the past, finding joy in little things, staying energized, building networks, having faith, and expressing gratitude. These principles encapsulate her wisdom for navigating life’s complexities with resilience and purpose.


In the realm of organizational development, Teo Jin Lee’s indomitable spirit and leadership acumen have sculpted ODE Consulting® into a beacon of excellence. Her commitment to agility, the seamless integration of technology, and a profound understanding of the human touch underscore the company’s pioneering initiatives.

Jin’s legacy is one of purpose, leadership, and an unyielding passion that continues to shape the landscape of the learning and consultancy industry.