Lai Garchun, Nicholas may be a new face in the Community Care sector, but he’s no stranger to the community he’s serving. The CEO of Yong-en Care Centre grew up in Chinatown – the area that his centre currently serves. The 53-year-old hopes to use the wealth of skills and knowledge he has amassed over the years in both the government and private sectors to achieve big things at the centre. Read on to find out how.
You were in a few big companies in the energy sector. Why did you decide to work in Community Care?
I started my early career in several economic agencies in the government before I joined the energy industry and worked on developing power generation facilities in countries that needed competitive electricity. So there has always been an interest to serve the public good, whether it was in the capacity of being in the government service, or in the capacity of an investor and operator of power plants, and now in the Community Care sector.
How is your transition to the Community Care sector going?
The transition has been smooth due to the support I have received from the board and my colleagues at Yong-en Care Centre. It also helps that I have a personal affiliation and affinity to the community we serve, which is Chinatown, and the surrounding areas. I grew up in Chinatown because my grandmother lived along Smith Street. My mother worked in Sago Lane.
Yong-en’s faithful service over the last 25 years in supporting disadvantaged families and extensive work in eldercare with the community also helped me to have some “street-cred” in gaining acceptance.
Your previous roles have a strong business management and business development slant. How does this influence what you hope to achieve at Yong-en Care Centre?
I hope to be able to contribute to Yong-en Care Centre in some areas such as:
1) Growing the reach and impact of our programmes in scale and in depth, to better meet the needs of our community;
2) Developing the mindset and skills to collaborate with partners effectively across administrative, organisational and sectorial boundaries in supporting caregivers’ needs, dementia services, active ageing and helping families under stress; and
3) Attracting and retaining talent.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I hope to grow deeper and inspire more significantly as a servant leader. During “peacetime”, I tend to guide my colleagues through persuasion and mentoring. During “wartime”, “Genghis Khan” rears his head.
As someone who is pretty new to the sector, what would you say to a person who is considering a career in Community Care?
Love for the community and the people you serve, and a clarity of purpose, were helpful in my deliberations about a career in the Community Care sector. These considerations helped me overcome the incessant mental toggling of cost-benefit analyses that I experienced at the outset. Also, there are many inspiring leaders and professionals who have made similar career changes to serve in the Community Care sector. So, I would say, you are not alone. These individuals are open to sharing what they know and their experiences.
Can you share something interesting that most of your colleagues don't know about you?
I enjoy multi-player online strategy games immensely, but I will not reveal my games or my in-game names in case I defeat any of your readers in a player versus player situation!
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