A mid-career switch is a big decision for anyone. We find out how Jeffrey Ha transitioned from his 20-year-long aerospace engineering career to become a Centre Manager at St Luke’s ElderCare (SLEC) Marine Parade Centre, and what brings him joy in his new role.
1. What organisations did you work in prior to SLEC, and what roles did you hold?
Prior to joining the Community Care sector, I had spent 20 years working in the aerospace industry. I started out as a Workshop Engineer with SIA Engineering Company (SIAEC) and my duties included overhauling, testing of hydraulic system components, supporting maintenance in aircraft structural repair and modification works. I later went on to work in ST Engineering’s Aerospace Manufacturing division as a Process Engineering Manager, handling Investment casting (Foundry) components.
2. Could you share why you wanted this change of career?
I had gone through a self-reflecting phase and came to a realisation — I didn’t want to spend the rest of my career in a cycle of meeting deadlines and bringing profits for the company. I knew something inside of me was looking for a more rewarding career where I can touch lives and leave a lasting impact on the people I interact with.
I chose the Community Care sector particularly as I felt that I could connect with seniors easily. I genuinely do enjoy interacting and holding simple conversations in various dialects with them.
3. What are some of the worries you had before joining and what helped you adapt to this new sector?
I have to say it was indeed a leap of ‘faith’, not knowing what was in store for me in the Community Care sector, hence the uncertainty of what was to come was my biggest concern. Thankfully I had a mentor, David, who helped me adjust in my new role as Centre Manager at St Luke's ElderCare.
David was a fellow Centre Manager who often went out of his way to greet every single client, not just during his morning rounds, but also throughout the day. His gestures were always met with eagerness and delight from the elders. I admire how selfless David was to drop what he had at hand to spend a minute to engage in conversations with our clients. It is an attitude that I chose to adopt as I run the centre. Showing love to the elders is not limited to administration, but also through the personal touch we add in their lives. David had also asked me to shadow him, duplicating the role of a Centre Manager in the centre that he was helping at. I was exposed to various roles such as admissions, ground staff management, community partnership engagements, and centre administration.
4. How did your family or friends respond to this career change?
Before making the decision, I spent some time discussing this matter with my family and close friends who were already working in this sector. My friends were initially surprised but happy for me that I wanted to make an impact in people’s lives. My wife was very supportive of my decision to switch to the Community Care sector as well.
5. What are some takeaways from the aerospace industry that you are able to apply in your current role as Centre Manager?
Previously, as a Process Engineer, I used to apply the work disciplines founded in efficiency and safety. These are important aspects in the aerospace industry which I continue to implement and practise in my role at SLEC for the day-to-day running of the centre.
6. How did AIC’s Senior Management Associate Scheme (SMAS) programme aid your transition to your current role?
The SMAS programme has broadened my perspective of the Community Care, or Intermediate and Long-Term Care (ILTC), sector as a whole. It has also given me the opportunity to visit various service providers such as nursing homes, senior activity centres, providers of home nursing, palliative care, social support to the needy like ‘Meals on Wheels’, and also eldercare centres. The Senior Care Centre is but one element of the entire system of Community Care. The programme presents the holistic approach of caring for the seniors, and it has helped me provide advice to families of our seniors or direct them to appropriate service providers should they require other support.
7. Looking back on your three years in Community Care, what have you enjoyed the most?
It brings me joy knowing that I have made a difference in the seniors’ lives and their families. Especially when clients and their families come up to us and express their gratitude, it warms our heart to know that we were there to care for them. Serving in this sector has given me a fresh perspective of caring for seniors and I am glad that my job allows me to make a difference in their lives.
Keen to join the Community Care sector? Find out more on our Community Care Jobs page www.aic.sg/commcarejobs!