A Chat with Kevin Lee
mosAIC caught up with Kevin Lee, CEO, AWWA who embarked on his Community Care journey last year. Prior to AWWA, Kevin held leadership roles at Microsoft, Hewlett Packard and Cisco Systems. Read the interview to find out more about his thoughts on the sector, and his plans for the organisation.
1. How has it been like in AWWA since you joined in September last year?
It has been wonderful because of the great work that our board and staff have been doing all these years. Community and social innovations are core to the spirit of AWWA. Our strength lies in pioneering innovations and placing them into a social community model that maximises our clients’ potential to lead independent lives.
I have challenged my management team to look at how we can continue to “transform” lives. Impacting our clients’ lives has never been easy. But until we have transformed lives, we have not made a big impact. When their lives do change, they become our best ambassadors to transform other lives.
2. Could you tell us more about your past experiences related to the health and social services sectors?
I was trained in computer science and that taught me about inputs and outcomes, and the processes that happen in between. My regional business and corporate management responsibilities have also taken me to over 24 countries and sharpened my strategic outlook across policy, productivity, priorities and people management. Over the last 10 years, I have seen the modernisation of healthcare through the transformation of hospitals – particularly on how hospitals are restructuring, how to manage patients and how to deliver client-centric care.
In addition, I have served on the boards of charities and non-profit organisations. These experiences made me better appreciate nuances in the non-profit sector, which includes sourcing and building up leadership talents, and reinforcing foundational strengths. They have also complemented my corporate journey with a diversified portfolio across finance, audit, treasury, risk management, operations, events and fundraising.
3. What are your plans for AWWA?
We aim to strengthen four strategic pillars in the next three years. First is innovation, because we don't want to lose the DNA of innovation and pioneering spirit that has brought AWWA to where it is today. Innovation does not just mean implementing technology. It also means improving processes and productivity, and coming up with new approaches in caring for our clients.
The second pillar is partnership, which involves working with like-minded partners to complement our service delivery capabilities and capacity. For example, we recently signed a memorandum of understanding with National Youth Council’s (NYC) Youth Corps which has 12,000 volunteers, some of whom have served in eldercare. This is strategically important to induct and provide ample opportunities for our youth to regularly engage in eldercare provision and social engagements.
The third pillar is proficiency. Today, AWWA has over 600 staff and this will potentially grow to over 1000 staff. As we grow and expand our services, the last thing we want to lose is proficiency. Because without it, our staff are not delivering our social services with utmost quality and competency.
The last pillar is transformation, as I mentioned earlier. It is very difficult to achieve transformation but we won’t stop striving for it. I believe that we are here to do as much good as we can within our means and to be accountable to our stakeholders. Transforming lives is our relentless pursuit. We need to try to multiply this effort and share the best practices as much as possible.
4. What do you enjoy about the Community Care sector?
In Community Care, we look beyond clinical aspects and focus on psychosocial care as well. Some clients from our Dementia Day Care Centre were referred not because of medical needs but due to psychosocial needs such as mental and social wellbeing. For example, we have a client who was very quiet and kept to himself. Over six months, he became more engaged with our staff and even visitors.
We also have a stroke client on who was on a feeding tube. After attending the sessions at our Rehab and Day Care Centre, he is now able to feed himself. This is core to AWWA – we want to empower our clients to maximise their potential to have a dignified and independent life. Our clients can live the life that they want and change for the better. This is the most heartening and rewarding part about our work every day.
5. Who or what is your inspiration in life and work?
There are many people who have inspired me through my travels and various connections over the past 20 years. That diversity has given me a broader perspective and I have never stopped learning from different people, exposure and experiences. Life itself is an ongoing exciting learning journey.
My biggest motivation is the calling to serve. It’s about people giving to people. Every six weeks, I provide career mentoring to various mentees from different countries with varied needs and developmental challenges. I enjoy mentoring them and have been able to give hope to others who are many miles away. A “living hope” is always more powerful than any money or job can offer.