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Assistant Head, Nursing
Here is one number cruncher who knows the exact impact of her work on the business community and society at large.
Everlyn Tham’s soft-spoken self hides her sharp thinking and numerical prowess. She has the facts supporting each analysis and recommendation at her fingertips.
Yet, she knows that statistical assignments are but the more straightforward part of her role in the Ministry of Manpower. After all, she did not win the Exemplary MOMer Award 2007 by just being good with numbers. She had also won the hearts and minds of many MOM colleagues, through her professionalism and her people-centredness.
A heart for people
Everlyn’s interest in people is exemplified by her involvement in committees such as the Customer Champion Team and the People Developer Team. Everlyn explained, "We promote service excellence and spearhead training and development in my department."
She hasn’t stopped there. Two years ago, she was the Staff Welfare Chairman for her department and the Social Convenor for the ministry’s Staff Welfare and Recreation Committee. Her social portfolio gave her the opportunity to work across departments and meet new faces.
Everlyn remembers feeling thrilled when her colleagues and members of the public thanked her for showing concern. Always the positive person, Everlyn had this to say about challenges, "Every setback has its own beauty. It is a learning opportunity, and I choose to gain a new perspective from every setback."
A love for music
Music has a huge impact on Everlyn’s life. "Music is the food of life. More than merely rhythm or melody, it tells us stories of life, of healing and understanding," she said. A nice parallel to her other love - statistics. "Similarly, statistics are not just about numbers. They inform us of current trends and directions for the future," she explained.
To Everlyn, excellence means completing every task well and with passion. It also means anticipating and planning for the future, something Everlyn has been practising since young.
And true to her beliefs, she is planning for her next mission - Everlyn wants to bungee jump. She also wants to learn a new language, Japanese. And yes, one more thing, she wants to learn ballroom dancing too.
This nursing practitioner started her career with much drama. Without understanding exactly what psychiatric nursing involved, Sumasni signed up for the student nursing course in response to a Government recruitment advertisement. As it turned out, looking after the mentally infirm in the then Woodbridge Hospital opened her eyes quickly to the challenges of nursing.
So it was an error that somehow turned out right. Her experience stood her in good stead as she made her posting rounds to the general wards. Today, she is the Assistant Head of Nursing at the Health Promotion Board.
Reaching the high notes
To the highly driven team player and lively presenter, the Public Service’s best draw has been the diverse opportunities it offers. In the 30 years she has spent in the Service, Sumasni has not only worked in a wide spectrum of nursing environments, she has also had a chance to take on management responsibilities.
On top of her exciting work, Sumasni has also put in hours composing poetry, songs, humorous skits and musicals for inter-hospital and corporate events, all of which have earned her applause from her co-workers.
In her current portfolio of ensuring clinical standards and quality, she oversees nursing audits, training of staff on infection control and emergency preparedness, customer feedback and administrative duties for the school nursing system. There is great breadth and depth in her work. “The core and professional training programmes and courses which I attended have definitely made a positive impact on my career,” she said.
All that training and years of juggling work and stage performances prepared her well to handle crises. Sumasni spoke emphatically as she shared about the challenges during the SARS crisis in 2003, where she handled the dissemination of Home Quarantine kits. The recent Influenza A H1N1 outbreak saw an experienced Sumasni effortlessly stepping again into that role, as part of Singapore’s national effort to contain the pandemic.
A natural with people and public speaking, Sumasni enjoys putting her oratorical skills to great use in her work. In March 2009, she had the honour of presenting a paper to share her expertise and experience on school nursing during the Fourth International Nursing Conference in Kuwait, under the auspices of the Crown Prince of Kuwait. It was an invaluable experience, for it provided her with the opportunity to contribute to the meaningful cause of developing a school health system in the country.
Closer to home, her stage training has proven useful as she peppers her school health talks with animation and role play, to the delight of the parent and student audiences. “In a way, my job is like performing on stage, and I enjoy it very much,” she added.
Getting the right pitch
Sumasni admitted that success does come at a price. Her long hours at work means less time with the family.“I make up by cooking their favourite dishes as well as going on holidays together,” she said.
So to all the aspiring public officers who wish to find balance in their work and life, Sumasni has this to say, “With the right attitude, good interpersonal relationship, creativity, and commitment, we should be able to find our own balance.
“Of course, a good dose of passion and resilience will help. I have had supervisors who strongly believed in me and gave me opportunities to prove my worth. I now hope that I can be a role model for my staff,” she added.
“Don’t do the crime, if you can’t do the time,” so goes a popular saying. Jill Tan believes passionately in justice, and that one should have the moral courage to make the right decision, even when it is not necessarily the most popular one.
Her curiosity about the work involved in upholding justice led her to join the Legal Service. Today, the District Judge leaves no stone unturned in making sure that those who deserve it do get locked away while the innocent ones see freedom.
A cause worth fighting for
Although Jill’s work so far has been predominantly in criminal law, what she really likes about the Legal Service are the diverse opportunities it offers – litigation, drafting, adjudication, policy, negotiation and mediation, just to name a few. “We get a chance to make the law, develop it, as well as change lives,” she said.
While she was serving in the Attorney-General’s Chambers, she was part of the team advising the Government on matters relating to the general elections. She saw how her superiors acted with great courage and principle in giving their advice.
“This had me believing that the good of the country was worth fighting for, and inspired me to emulate these men and women of principle,” she said.
To her, upholding justice is paramount and she does not shy away from a fight even when the going gets tough. “When I was a prosecutor, there was an acquittal that I simply could not accept. My senior and I fought on and some months later, we took the matter up on appeal and the acquittal was overturned. I believe that justice prevailed,” she said with satisfaction.
She added that those vested with power must always exercise it carefully and justly. While the role of the judge may require a certain amount of steel in her, Jill balances this with a heart of compassion. She has set for herself a modest target of “being a positive influence and changing the life of at least one person.”
Thinking on her feet
Outside of work, Jill relieves the pressure on herself by maintaining a sense of humour. “I am quite at ease with unusual antics while with my friends and family. My young nieces and nephew often get to see that side of me and it always makes them laugh,” she admitted.
Jill loves to run. These “alone times” allow her a chance to think and clear her head. Such private sessions of solitude offer her the opportunity to think through the decisions and verdicts she has to render.
And the bonus to all that running is also the freedom to eat whatever she wants, without fear of adding to the waistline!