{Interview #6} Ruth Wan – Writer and Editor

Ruth Wan is a Children’s Book Author and Managing Editor of Armour Publishing. She created the popular Timmy and Tammy series which was presented by President Tony Tan to Princess Charlotte as part of Singapore’s gift to the royal baby in 2015. Five Timmy and Tammy books were also selected for the SG50 Baby Jubilee Gift Pack which was given to all Singaporean babies born in 2015. She is in her late-30s and is married to a policeman. They have 3 children.


This initiative is part of our 101 Paths to Success series of interviews to gain insight into how successful people came to do what they are doing, and enlighten parents that there is a vast array of occupations for our children to discover. Hopefully it might spark an interest in our children and youths to start their journey of discerning their life’s path.

Your qualifications

Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and International Studies

Ruth Wan
Describe your job

In the morning, I go to the office and work with authors, illustrators, designers and other editors to produce books for the local market. These could be books on marriage, family and parenting. Or, they could be christian books or children’s books.

As managing editor, I plan the publication schedule for Armour Publishing – I do this six months to a year in advance. This involves meeting up with potential authors to discuss book ideas, dealing with contracts and conceptualising book series.
Tell us about your career path

I worked in government for 7 years until I gave birth. Then, I sat around on maternity leave and decided to extend my leave. I ended up extending my leave for two-and-a-half years before returning, but insisting on a part-time basis only.

I found it difficult to work part-time in a largely full-time environment. So I left the Civil Service to work for an award-winning graphic design firm that had a small publishing arm, called Epigram.

When the publishing arm started growing, it eventually became its own entity, Epigram Books. I started as Editor in Epigram Books and became Managing Editor. Subsequently, I left to join Armour Publishing as Managing Editor and as I have the autonomy to decide what to write and publish, that’s where I started my own children’s series, Timmy and Tammy.

How did you find your passion?

I’ve always loved to read and write. I write better than I speak. I also need to read something in order to fully understand it. I have always had editorial instincts. I spend a lot of time correcting my own speech, and the speech of others, to make the words more grammatical. It drives my husband crazy. I used to think I was weird, but then I found editorial soul mates in my other editor friends. There are more of us in this world!

When I started having kids, I found myself very passionate about teaching them how to read. I realised that my mum had taught me early on how to read, and I wanted to do that for my kids too. I taught all my kids how to read fluently by the time they were four.

I did not use any formula, curriculum or method. I just read to them and used my own make-up-on-the-spot method. When I was teaching my youngest daughter to read, I looked around and realised there were no readers in the market with local icons or landscapes.

I started writing a series that would address this gap – and I’m amazed how well the series is doing. I guess there are a lot of parents out there who want localised preschool books.

This makes sense because if children see landscapes and items they are familiar with, like the MRT, the Singapore Flyer and Changi airport, they are more likely to be engaged with the text and enjoy what they’re reading. This makes teaching them how to read enjoyable and fun.

Which aspect of your job gives you the most satisfaction?

I really love designing book covers! And I love that moment when you double click on what an illustrator has just sent in and your screen is suddenly covered with a beautiful full-colour illustration that is just so adorable!

How do you find time to balance work and family?
I chose to work part-time only, and go home in the afternoon. I spend time with my kids, hug them, and make sure they keep up with schoolwork. We try to go to the playground every other day, but only in the evenings when it’s cooler. There’s also piano practice.

I try not to bring work home and have this rule that if I do bring work home, it should be in hard-copy and should be mainly something I need to read.

What does success mean to you?

Success means pleasing God in everything that I do. The Bible spells out God’s plan for our life – since He’s our Maker, He knows what’s best for us and I have found that when I follow Him, His priorities, His values, His ways, I am blessed.

Are you involved in any volunteer work?

I sing in Church.

One advice to parents

Let your children know that you love them, you support them, you are there to encourage and root for them. They are going to face all sorts of things with their friends, with their grades, with the world. They need to have your love to have the courage and strength to persevere, to stand up for what is right, to choose to be different and to study for their Chinese exams!

To be a good writer, it takes someone… who has a reason to write and who believes in what he/she is doing.

{Interviews} 101 Paths to Success

#1 – Dr Karen Crasta Scientist Associate Prof at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine


#2 – Jeremiah Choy Creative Director Sing50 Mega concert at the National Stadium

#3 – Elaine Yeo Musician Singapore Symphony Orchestra

#4 – Chong Ee Jay Cyber Wellness Educator TOUCH Cyber Wellness

#5 – Professor Tan Huay Cheem Cardiologist Director of National University Heart Centre


~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

{Interview #5} Professor Tan Huay Cheem – Cardiologist

Professor Tan Huay Cheem, 52, is Senior Consultant at the department of Cardiology at National University Hospital (NUH). He is also Director of National University Heart Centre, Singapore (NUHCS), and Professor of Medicine at Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, NUS. He is a visiting professor to several hospitals in China and is an invited speaker to many international cardiology meetings. He is married to a locum G.P., who spends much of her time looking after their 11 year old daughter.
This initiative is part of our 101 Paths to Success series of interviews to gain insight into how successful people came to do what they are doing, and enlighten parents that there is a vast array of occupations for our children to discover. Hopefully it might spark an interest in our children and youths to start their journey of discerning their life’s path.

Your qualifications

Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery MBBS (Singapore)
Master of Medicine (Internal Medicine)
Membership of Royal College of Physician (MRCP) United Kingdom
Fellowship of American College of Cardiology (FACC)
Describe your job

I am a cardiologist, a heart specialist. Specifically, I am an interventional cardiologist who specialises in ‘unblocking’ patients’ ‘blocked heart arteries’ (coronary artery disease) from excessive cholesterol and fat deposits.

I do so by inserting a balloon through the wrist or groin artery to access the heart (coronary) arteries. I would first dilate the arteries (which fractures and pushes the deposits against the side of the wall) with a balloon catheter and then implant a stent (which is either a metallic or ‘plastic’ scaffold) to prop the artery open. That way, it allows for restoration of blood flow to the heart which can relieve patient’s symptom (called angina pectoris) and prevent heart attack. The whole procedure is called percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI).

PCI is a generally safe procedure with procedural complication rates of less than 2%. It can be really life-saving in patients with acute heart attacks. In these patients, their arteries are completely ‘choked off’ with no blood flow to the heart muscles by blood clot and fat deposuts; and by performing this procedure, the whole process of heart attack can be aborted.

This job requires me to be on duty some days where I have to be on standby for a whole 24 hours to be activated whenever a patient is admitted with heart attack. This can be very tiring especially when there are many heart attack patients who are admitted on the same day; or when they come in the middle of the night which deprives you of your sleep. In choosing this profession, I have acknowledged that this will have to be my lifestyle. My wife and family accepts it.
How did you find your passion/ area of interest?

I have always wanted to be a doctor since young. I still remember writing about being one as a young primary school student. I must have been inspired by the doctors who cured me of my illnesses when I was young. These doctors had left an indelible impression on me. To me, the medical profession is a noble and respectable one. Having become a doctor, I realise that respect from our patients has to be earned and not demanded. It is my wish that all doctors will continue to place the interest of their patients before their own, and not be influenced by extraneous factors such as financial gains or others.  

I have always thought that I would be an Obstetrician & Gynaecologist. This is because I topped the subject in my class. However something happened in my life that changed my initial plan. My mother, who was very close to me, had sudden death from a heart attack when I was serving my National Service as a medical officer. I found her collapsed in the bathroom on my return one day and started performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on her till the ambulance arrived. She did not make it and died shortly after.

It was a shocking experience for me and it changed my life completely. My mother was only 55 when she passed away. She was simply too young to have died! I then decided that I would take up Cardiology, and specifically interventional cardiology, so that I can make a difference to heart attack patients in future. Although I could not save my own mother, I hope to be able to save someone else’s parent or spouse. I found myself to have a knack for the field and made sure that I was well-trained in it to serve my calling. Having performed nearly 10,000 cardiac  procedures both locally and overseas over the last 20 years, I believe I have made an impact to many people’s lives.

I have been working in NUH since my graduation 28 years ago. I still have many long term patients whom I had previously operated on, under my care. While I am definitely not the richest doctor around, I am very wealthy with the showers of gratitude and thanks which many of my patients bestow on me. That, to me, is the best gift.

Professor Tan Huay Cheem
Which aspect of your job gives you the most satisfaction?

My job as an academic cardiologist encompasses 4 main areas of work, namely clinical service, teaching, research and administration. I derive tremendous satisfaction in all these areas.

To be able to save someone’s life at the time when he or she needed you most gives me the most gratification. To be able to teach and train someone so well that he can treat his own patients competently is another satisfaction. To create new knowledge and to come out with new therapies to treat patients better is what I try to do in my research. And finally as a leader in the public institution, I help develop clinical programmes, manpower planning and participate in formulating public health policies, all of which are meaningful to me. What keeps me in the public sector, instead of going into private practice, is that I can be a member of Singapore’s public healthcare system which provides quality, accessible and cost effective care to the people of my country, regardless of their background.    
What does success mean to you?

I like the definition of success by American poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“To find the best in others; to give of oneself; to leave the world a bit better; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived- this is to have succeeded”

I wish to be a blessing to someone every day, be it big or small. That is my definition of success. My work gives me the privilege to literally do that every day!

I owe all that I have to God. I hope to be an Ambassador for Christ, to testify of His wondrous works through my work and life.
Are you involved in any charity work?

I volunteer my time with Singapore Heart Foundation, a voluntary welfare organization (VWO) that aims to promote heart health, prevent and reduce disability and death due to cardiovascular diseases and stroke among the public. I am the Secretary General for the organization and am actively involved in promoting health in schools and the community through programmes such as obesity management, exercise for life, Go Red For Women, and cardiac rehabilitation. We also raise funds to support needy patients for their expensive treatment in hospitals.
One advice to parents

Be a good role model to your child for much of what he/she becomes later in life is shaped by you.
One advice to teens

As you pursue your dreams in life, do not forget that much of what you have is owed to your parents and the society. Learn to count your blessings and be grateful.
To be a cardiologist, it takes someone who is….. fully committed to the job with passion. Life-long continual learning is a prerequisite. You must also have three core values: empathy, compassion and effective communication skills. Take care of your patient like you would take care of your loved ones and do not allow financial gains to influence your judgement and management.
 

{Interviews} 101 Paths to Success

#1 – Dr Karen Crasta Scientist Associate Prof at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine


#2 – Jeremiah Choy Creative Director Sing50 Mega concert at the National Stadium

#3 – Elaine Yeo Musician Singapore Symphony Orchestra

#4 – Chong Ee Jay Cyber Wellness Educator TOUCH Cyber Wellness


~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Inspiring youths – Life of a blogger

I spent a lovely evening with a group of 14-year olds, sharing with them what the job of a blogger entails. This is part of their school’s leadership program, to allow the students an opportunity to chat with a working adult about their career.

It is heartening to discover that schools take the initiative to plan and organise such relevant enriching sessions for their students and I was more than happy to volunteer my time.

Sec 2 students
It was nice to see teenagers sitting through 2 hours of a meal, asking pertinent questions and listening attentively. These were some of the things they wanted to know about blogging:

How do you gain readers?

You have to write things that people would want to read, that they would find value in. Be it informative, interesting, thought-provoking, humorous or sharing the ‘in thing‘. As friends start to support and spread your posts via social media, it will grow from there.

There are many blogs around, so it is important that you find your niche. (I went round the table asking them about their interests and gave suggestions from there.)

Do you run out of things to write about?

I don’t! Probably because I love to talk so much that I have lots of things I want to say and share. And the fact that I have 6 kids ranging from 2 to 16, gives me lots to write about – from discipline, to fun activities, to tackling our education system and much more. In fact, I was so busy replying texts from friends asking all sorts of questions with regards to their children that they suggested I put it all down in a blog, and that was how I got started.

However, I’ve heard that bloggers, like other writers, do get into a rut and run out of things to write about. If you are passionate about an area, you will naturally want to read, explore and discover more about it and the more you get into it, the more angles you have to talk about. And to constantly get inspired through reading other people’s writing to ponder and come up with refreshing ideas.

Are your husband and children supportive of your blogging?

Initially the hubs was sceptical, wondering what sort of a job that was, but now he is supportive and also provides me with photos I can use (as my photography skills leave a lot to be desired!) As for my kids, they are totally behind me in this because of the free things we are sponsored and the wonderful opportunities we get invited to like media launches. When my previous domain name disappeared and I was considering if I should stop blogging, it was the children who encouraged me to carry on.

Do you do vlog? (I had to clarify this, and they asked if I walk around my house videoing my kids and putting it up on my blog)

Definitely not. I am vigilant in maintaining their privacy as there may be stalkers out there. As all of you are young, you should also be wary of maintaining your privacy, as what you put up on social media will stay there forever and who knows what people could do with your personal information or photos.

If we don’t like the service or product we are reviewing, are we supposed to lie?

I shared with them that such issues on morals and what we stand for will surface not only as bloggers, but also in other jobs as well, and it is important that we uphold our integrity and reputation. What I do is to be direct with my clients and usually they are understanding enough to respect my stand as a blogger with integrity. If I am uncomfortable with a client who wants me to write things which I don’t believe to be true, I would rather drop the collaboration.

As we rounded up the discussion, I asked them if there were other careers besides blogging that they were considering and one said, “My parents want me to be a doctor. For my future.”

Ah, typical. I shared with them my 101 Paths to Success series and told them that in today’s career landscape, there are many other viable paths for young people to pursue, and they should start asking themselves what they enjoy and what they are good at, and not be limited only by the “doctor/lawyer/engineer” mindset.

Before you think I have anything against these professions, I better clarify that I do not, and am in fact going to include them in my success series. I just feel that it is sad if parents don’t do enough research and and are not open to the endless opportunities out there for our current generation of children and simply dictate their career choices based on outmoded notions. How many times have I seen people who finally quit their professions and “do what they have always wanted to do”.

I guess they could sense my enthusiasm about this series and commented that “you are so kind to want to help other people, why do you spend so much time doing it”. I shared with them that when you reach a certain age, your focus changes and you tend to find joy in giving back. And when you find things which excite you, it will spur you into taking action.

At the end of the dinner, they asked if I was going to blog about the event, and I said I wasn’t intending to. Then I realized that they were keen for me to do so. Such dears.

It is very refreshing to speak with young people and hear their viewpoints. Their energy and vigour also rubs off on you and I feel years younger! 😉

~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

{Interview #2} Jeremiah Choy – Creative Director

Jeremiah Choy, 52, is the Creative Director of Sing50, a concert to be held at the National Stadium to commemorate Singapore’s 50th Jubilee celebrations. In 2015, he was also creative director for May Day Rally, Singapore Day (Shanghai) and Spotlight Singapore, a platform in cultural diplomacy in Mexico City. He will be directing ChildAid 2015 in December this year. He was an Adjunct Lecture with the Singapore Management University and was the President of the Association of Singapore Actors. He founded the Orangedot Group of Companies comprising Productions, Entertainment, Management and Talents.


This initiative is part of our 101 Paths to Success series of interviews to gain insight into how successful people came to do what they are doing, and enlighten parents that there is a vast array of occupations for our children to discover. Hopefully it might spark an interest in our children and youths to start their journey of discerning their life’s path.

Your qualifications

LLB (Hons) NUS, Singapore

Describe your job

I am now a creative director, producer and curator. 

In my younger days, I used to be an actor, dancer, choreographer and writer. Oh, I used to be a lawyer too. 

My present job is to think of ways to help my clients “sell” a message, create an experience, or simply curate a series of happenings.

The greatest pleasure in my job is that there is no real definition of what I do. I can be directing a show in theatre one moment, auditioning for a concert the next, or writing for an exhibition. I can be going around to shop for costumes, meeting like-minded people to brainstorm ideas, be alone to dream of concepts or travel the world to do yet another production. The freedom of creativity is what keeps me going.

Tell us about your career path

When I was in primary school, I had wanted to be a doctor. That was because everyone told me that it would be a good choice. Besides, I have terrible handwriting – the sort of squiggles you see when you consult your doctor (no offence to the doctors out there).

Then came secondary school, where I had dreamed to be a violinist. But that was quickly crushed when my squealing violin playing was declaimed by the people around me.

In Junior College, I had wanted to be a doctor again. But dissecting a guinea pig with four foetuses within her made me realise for the second time, that this is one profession I was not meant to be.

So after my A level results, I decided to be a psychologist or psychiatrist. But there was no such course in NUS, so I was prepared to take up Sociology. However on my way to submit my application, a good friend persuaded me to go to Law School. He said that there were a lot of creative people in Law School. Needless to say, I was persuaded. My inner performance cells needed no convincing. 

So after National Service, I went to Law School and stayed in Kent Ridge Hall. I started dancing, singing and participated in Hall activities that allowed my creative juices to run amok. But I studied hard enough to graduate as a Law student, and eventually became a lawyer. 

Came 1988, the first production that changed my life. That was Beauty World, the musical. My first professional theatre that made me sing, dance and act (even as a chorus). I was smitten by the theatre. 

In the 10 years that followed, I co-existed as a lawyer by day and performer by night. It was exhausting but at the same time exhilarating. I was involved in many ground breaking productions by TheatreWorks and Asia-in-Theatre Research Circus.

Then came 1997, the second production that changed my life again. That was Lear, a six country, multi-disciplinary performance that toured Asia and Europe. I gave up my legal career to be in it. At first I thought, I would try going full time as a performer for 2 years. That 2 years have become 18 years.

Over the years, I have gravitated towards Events and Theatre. 

I am fortunate to be one of those people who can truly claim that I love what I do and do what I love. The best thing is getting paid for that. 

How did you find your passion?

I think the passion is inbuilt in me since young. I have always been interested in performing arts since young. Participating in drama, choirs, etc in my schools. 

Which aspect of your job gives you the most satisfaction?

Meeting and working with like-minded people. Getting inspired by the immense talent around me. Having the opportunity to dream, and to make my dreams come true. That is satisfaction. Guaranteed. 

You must be incredibly busy. How do you avoid being burned out?

I always remember to stop and have my me-time every now and then. Me-time can simply mean having a little quiet moment in the middle of all the hustle and bustle around me, just switching off the phone, computer, and all things electronic and indulge in a little garden-gazing with a cup of coffee in my hands. Or just taking a moment to literally re-connect with the inner-me. 

What does success mean to you?

Success is not about being famous and making money. Success is about being happy and enjoying what you do for a living. 

Are you involved in any charity work?

I have my once a year ChildAid Concert, which raises money for the School Pocket Money Fund and the Business Times Budding Artist Fund. I really enjoy doing this concert where I meet many gifted and talented children. They are being provided a platform where they can contribute back to society through their talents.

But more importantly, it gives me the opportunity to share with them some very important qualities of being a professional artiste. That is, the constant reminder to be “HIP” –  to have Humility and Integrity and to be Professional.

No matter how great a talent the young children have, they must be able to share the stage, onstage and behind the scenes, with the cast and crew. Everyone contributes to the success of a concert. 

What does it take for young people to succeed in the Arts?

First, you must truly love the arts and believe in the power of the arts. You must have something to say. Say what you mean and mean what you say. If you think that being in the arts is about being rich and famous, then you are in for a huge surprise. People in the arts work very hard. Beauty and fame can only take you so far. It is the passion and conviction that will carry you further. 

One advice to parents

You may think your child is talented. But sometimes, it is your projection on your child. Give your child the space to explore his or her own talent. Sometimes, pushing your child too hard will create the burnout sooner. I have seen many talented 4 to 6 year olds burn out by the time they turn 15 or 16. 

If your child is truly talented, he or she will find the right way of expressing it. As parents, you can help to provide the platform. But by pushing your child beyond what is necessary, then the talent is like a flower that is over watered, which will wilt in due course, choked by the over-attention given. 

One advice to teens

It is alright to explore. You are young. You have dreams. You have a lot of time to decide what you want to do. But do not waste the talent given to you. Do not squander it away. Talent alone does not guarantee you the satisfaction of success. It is a lot of hard work.

To be a good creative director, it takes someone… who believes in himself/herself. Never doubt your own dream or vision. It takes a look of hard work to be ahead of the curve. But the satisfaction comes when you are riding the waves.


{Interviews} 101 Paths to Success

#1 – Dr Karen Crasta Scientist Associate Prof at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine


~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~


{Interview #1} Associate Professor Karen Crasta – Scientist

Associate Professor Karen Crasta, 38, is a Scientist researching basic mechanisms of cancer. She is officially an Associate Prof at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine and Joint Principal Investigator at A*STAR Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology. She heads a team researching mechanisms of cancer biology and therapy. She also teaches Medical and Biological Sciences undergraduates at NTU.

This initiative is part of our 101 Paths to Success series of interviews to gain insight into how successful people came to do what they are doing, and enlighten parents that there is a vast array of occupations for our children to discover. Hopefully it might spark an interest in our children and youths to start their journey of discerning their life’s path.


Your qualifications

B.Sc (Honours) in Microbiology from NUS
PhD in Cell Cycle Regulation from NUS

Postdoctoral Training in Cancer Biology from Harvard Medical School, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Associate Professor Karen Crasta

Describe your job


I love my job! There is no typical day.  It consists of training, guiding my team of postdoctoral fellows, Phd Students and research assistants. I hold weekly group meetings with the team members so we have discussions as a team on how to best solve problems and learn from one another.  I may also have to review journal manuscripts and grant proposals. I occasionally teach and set student assignments and examination questions, and mark them. And of course, there are plenty of meetings to keep me busy!

As I am a National Research Foundation Fellow, my focus is more on the research aspect although I do find the teaching aspect gratifying. I try to find time to carry out my own research at the bench and make time everyday to read journal articles to keep up with the latest discoveries in the field.

Tell us about your career path

I didn’t always know that I wanted to be a scientist. However over time, it became apparent that my favourite topic was Biology. Additionally, my parents were a big influence. My mum, who stayed at home when me and my twin-sister were younger, taught us about nature and science in a fascinating way. My dad was passionate about his job as an Engineer and influenced our thinking process and the way we see the world.


I did well in CJC in Biology and decided to undertake Microbiology as a major at NUS. I was selected to the Honours Year where we were assessed on independently-carried out research projects and advanced course work. It was at this stage that I first encountered the appeal of research work. The independence of it, thinking about things, planning the steps to your next experiment, reading, discussing, trouble-shooting, making a hypothesis and predictions, testing them, failing or getting it right…. the lure of the experimentation process was exciting.

I worked for two years as a research assistant and ended up as a first-author in a reputable journal called Bacteriology! By then my interest in science was sealed and I decided to do a PhD at the then only premier research institute in Singapore called the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMB). In my final months of PhD, I went to a conference in Melbourne to present my graduate work on Cell Cycle research. At the conference, I met a Professor from Harvard whom I knew had a project in an area I was looking to pursue. He interviewed me in Melbourne and accepted me on the spot!

I packed my bags for Boston in July 2008 to start my post-doctoral training at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School. I was awarded the A*STAR International Fellowship in 2009. In 2012 I returned to Singapore and joined IMCB, now under A*STAR, as a Senior Research Fellow.

In 2013, I was awarded the National Research Foundation Fellowship from the Prime Minister’s Office which came with 3 million dollars in funding over 5 years. This allowed me to start my own lab in Sept 2013 and I’m now leading a team of like-minded people who share the same vision in solving the major problems my lab is addressing, namely toxicity and resistance of chemotherapy drugs.

My mothers’ role:

I love my Mum! My mother, Stella Crasta, nurtured my love for science and the 3 of us siblings would not have come to where we are (us twins as successful scientists and my younger sister as a lawyer) without her example, dedication, sacrifice, encouragement, and unconditional love. She imparted good Christian values to us, and most importantly, kept us constantly in her prayers.

She has a double degree in Botany and Zoology, and also in Education. When my twin sister and I were born, she stayed home until we were 16 years old. Home was a loving environment as my mum was always there to turn to for advice and Dad came home promptly at 6.15pm everyday.

I am glad my mum was a stay-at-home-mum in our growing up years. She was up early to make breakfast and prepare our lunchbox. She went through our homework and taught us different subjects in inspiring ways. She particularly had a twinkle in her eyes when teaching us Science.

Not only did she take a keen interest in our academic work, she also made sure we were self-reliant. We had to do simple household chores to learn independence and help out as a family. My parents ensured we had a well-rounded education and encouraged us to play badminton, swim to relax, and learn to play the piano. Amidst all that, she made sure we had fun as well!

My mum is now the Principal of St. Francis of Assisi Kindergarten, and it was really inspiring to see her working so hard – working during the day, going for classes at night, and staying up to finish assignments. Although she was the oldest in class, she achieved top marks for all her assignments and it was obvious that her professors and classmates loved her! It was my wise dad who encouraged her to take up teaching as he said it is always important to have other interests besides family lest anything happens to him when we’re all grown up. He passed away 3 years ago from cancer and on hindsight, it was good that she has her own interests and work to keep her busy as my Dad is no longer around as her companion.

How did you find your passion / area of interest?

It was more by trial and error. It was obvious that I did better in Biology than all the other subjects so it was natural that I gravitated towards it. Having an interest in cancer cells came from studying the controls of cell division during my phD. Understanding how cells turn cancerous became somewhat of an obsession and that intense curiosity about wanting to know more got me hooked on this path, in the hope of coming up with improved cancer therapies.
Which aspect of your job gives you the most  satisfaction?

When I see the joy of discovery on the face of someone in my team!

What does success mean to you?

Success at work is the ability to do my best every day in mentoring the younger generation so that they can become good scientists and good people. I try to always remember that any talent we have is from God and we must use it to the best of our ability.


Are you involved in any voluntary work?

I am involved in a church group that organizes activities to help the less fortunate, the elderly and the sick.

I am also an UN Women in Science Ambassador and open my lab twice a year to interested secondary school girls in the hope of inspiring and motivating them to see how fun and exciting making scientific discoveries can be!

To know more about the Girls2Pioneers program, you can visit this website – http://www.girls2pioneers.org/
One advice to parents

Support your children in pursuing dreams that make them happy; do not impinge your aspirations on them.

One advice to teens

Work hard with passion, determination and confidence to achieve your goals. You can do anything you set your mind to!

To be a good scientist, it takes someone… who is truly Passionate about science since it can be fraught with failures. Having said that, you need to be able to learn from the failures and have the ability to troubleshoot and design key experiments. You will also need to be curious about nature and how things work. Finally you need self-motivation, drive and hard work to pursue it.


~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~