On the fast lane to achieving her career goals

At 22 years old, JCU alumnus Shannon Teo is already making an impact as a public relations professional

Enrolling in JCU’s Pre-University Foundation Programme and Bachelor of Business programme has fast-tracked Shannon Teo’s career in public relations. PHOTO: SHANNON TEO

Working in the fast-paced public relations industry and an environment surrounded by glitz and excitement, Ms Shannon Teo is one of the lucky few who can say she has a glamorous job.

The 22-year-old helps fashion and beauty labels build and strengthen their branding and image. As part of her job, she often gets to collaborate with personalities and journalists, attend events, and be the first to see and experience new products.

Beyond the buzz, however, what Ms Teo enjoys the most is being able to apply creative and critical thinking skills in her job.

The senior account executive has been working at public relations agency PR Communications for three years since graduating from James Cook University (JCU) with a Bachelor of Business (Majoring in Marketing and Management) in 2017. She studied at JCU's Singapore campus.

Ms Teo wanted to pursue a career in marketing from a young age after being intrigued by advertisements and how words, colours and visuals had the power to persuade consumers.

She also knew that a marketing career would give her room to be creative. She says: "I gravitated towards marketing because of the nature of this industry - its dynamic and flexible nature would allow me to apply my creativity in all sorts of ways, be it developing marketing strategies or perfecting the details on a billboard."

Direct path to undergraduate studies

With a clear idea of her career goals, Ms Teo enrolled in JCU's Pre-University Foundation Programme after completing her GCE O-levels in 2013. She enrolled in the programme knowing that the eight-month course would give her a direct path to pursuing her undergraduate studies.

She chose JCU after learning that it has a reputation as a world-class research university, and that degrees are internationally recognised. She also wanted to learn within a multicultural environment.

"It was a matter of finding a university with a great environment for continuous learning, proper learning resources to develop the knowledge and skill sets I would need, and accreditation and reliability to pursue a marketing career," she says.

As part of the foundation programme, Ms Teo studied modules like Information Technology, Critical Thinking, Statistics, Economics, Communication Across Cultures, English Fundamentals, Learning and Development and Geography.

Of these, she found Critical Thinking particularly useful because it taught her analytical skills. Other subjects that helped develop her soft skills include Learning and Development that led her to discover her preferred learning style, and English Fundamentals that enabled her to practice and hone her public speaking and presentation skills.

The eight-month Pre-University Foundation Programme at JCU not only equipped Ms Teo with technical skills but also enabled her to develop analytical and communication skills. PHOTO: SHANNON TEO

Skills for the workforce

Upon completion of the programme, Ms Teo pursued a Bachelor of Business (Majoring in Marketing and Management) degree.

Modules in the undergraduate course, such as Strategic Marketing and Consumer Behaviour, taught her the key elements of branding and marketing, which she could apply in her public relations work.

Working on group projects for these modules gave her the opportunity to develop a holistic understanding of marketing. As part of the Strategic Marketing module, Ms Teo's team analysed a local brand and recommended solutions on increasing revenue while maintaining market share. This project allowed her to deepen her research, analysis and critical thinking skills.

She says: "We proposed marketing strategies based on an actual situation, helping me put the different marketing strategies I learnt in lectures into perspective instead of knowing it abstractly."

The skills acquired at university have helped Ms Teo thrive in her current job, making her a valued member of the PR Communications team.

Ms Nadia Chan, general manager at PR Communications and Ms Teo's supervisor, says: "Shannon has a track record of having a flair for writing, which has resulted in her achieving some incredible opportunities for our clients. As a team member, she has a positive attitude and enjoys strategising for media activities to help garner maximum exposure and opportunities. Her work ethic is one that is admired by the team as she is seen as reliable and extremely organised in the way she services her clients."

Other than academic studies, Ms Teo benefitted from JCU's campus culture, which groomed her to become a confident communicator. Being able to meet and study with students from countries like Germany, Thailand, China and Malaysia has opened her eyes to different perspectives.

She says: "I learnt to work in a multicultural team, which served as a source of inspiration when we had to consider and integrate multiple points of view to develop creative ideas. Through this, I have gained meaningful experience and skills as a team player and an effective communicator."

Visit for more information on the Pre-University Foundation Programme and for more information on the Bachelor of Business offered at James Cook University.

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