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Alumni Stories > Alumni Stories > Leanna's Life Changing Decisions

Leanna's Life Changing Decisions

As the Marketing Manager for Nikoi and Cempedak Islands, Leanna (2013 Cohort) is no stranger to making scary life changing decisions. Read on as she shares her story with us.

What’s your Tanglin story? 

I moved to Tanglin in term two of Year 3 (at the start of 2003) and was there the whole way until I graduated Sixth Form in the summer of 2013, so 10 years in total. 


Two of your biggest passions are storytelling through photos/videos and being outdoors, what got you started?

Before living in Singapore, I lived in Oman and Bahrain where we often went on weekend road trips down the coast, camping on beaches or in wadis. I spent all my childhood summers back in Ireland where I would surf, do lifesaving courses and explore the coast. In Singapore, I was lucky to grow up in a house amongst the rainforest, so the neighbourhood kids would gather after school for treehouse building, roller hockey on the streets and swimming in pools. 

Throughout my childhood, my dad captured all these moments on his film camera and my favourite thing to do was look back through our family albums, so he was probably the inspiration behind the storytelling side of things. When I started getting into photography as a young teenager, I guess it was inevitable that I would turn the camera to the kind of stuff I enjoyed doing. The first video I edited was of my brother and I skateboarding (not very well) down our driveway, and the first photo I submitted to a competition was of a green tree snake on our front porch. 


Who or what inspired you the most while you were at Tanglin?

This is a hard one. I think I was inspired by my peers and how much we were able to achieve, thanks to the resources and teaching staff we had. I remember being really impressed by just how well we did as a cohort academically. I was also part of many sports teams and year after year we seemed to only get better. I recall us beating the Singapore national netball team in the Berrick Hall. When I look back on that now, it’s pretty crazy to believe. 


It’s seldom easy to make a life changing decision (like when you decided to do a last minute pivot from a master’s degree in marine biology to one in science communication), what do you think gave you the courage to take the leap?

I did do a lot of research before making the decision, but I think I knew in my gut that I was going to change my degree as soon as I heard about it. I think when you grow up in a transient community like we did, big changes don’t faze you as much. Don’t get me wrong, I still get very emotional (lots of airport cries) whenever I embark on any kind of change in my life, but I’m never scared when I’m actually making the decision. I think after years of practice, you just get used to change being scary, but it’s worth it in the end. 



How would you advise someone who isn’t sure what they want to do in life, even after choosing their academic pathway?

I would say don’t worry too much but keep yourself busy. A qualification under your belt is great and nowadays, most qualifications and work experience are transferable into other jobs and industries. With regards to trying to ‘figure it all out’, my brother once said to me: just keep doing the things you enjoy, and the rest will fall into place. I think he was right about that. Don’t let go of your hobbies, that’s where you meet like-minded people and if you’re lucky, your hobbies might one day become part of your job. 


What are your future plans?

I have been back in Singapore since January 2023, and I have no plans on moving anytime soon. I work as the Marketing Manager for Nikoi and Cempedak Islands - two resorts off the east coast of Bintan - but spend most of my time here in the city. My office is actually, ironically, right beside Tanglin, so I have done the full loop. By prioritising conservation, culture, community and commerce in their operations, Nikoi and Cempedak are leading in responsible tourism in the area and there is no one else I would prefer to work with. So, for the moment, my plans are to settle in and use my experience in marketing and marine conservation to help them make even more of an impact.


What is something that people won’t know from your resume?

I have represented Europe five times at the World Flowboarding Championships (the fake surfing machines you often see on the back of cruise ships). My first ever European Championship was actually sponsored by the Tanglin Alumni Grant! 


Tanglin Trust School Singapore has a long tradition of providing British-based learning with an international perspective. At Tanglin we strive to make every individual feel valued, happy and successful.

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Registration number : 196100114C
Registration period : 7 June 2023 to 6 June 2029

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