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Fulfilling jobs, fulfilling lives

Committed to empowering staff through purpose, mastery, trust and respect, NTUC First Campus has the winning formula for creating a team of engaged and happy early childhood professionals.

Fulfilling jobs, fulfilling lives

Ms Dawn Hu, principal of The Little Skool-House At-Kent-Vale, said that her positive experiences during her internship at NTUC First Campus sealed her decision to join as a full-time employee. Photos: Aik Chen

A healthy dose of respect and trust, plenty of opportunities for professional development and mastery, and a strong sense of purpose and empowerment.

These key ingredients work together to build a happy workplace at NTUC First Campus (NFC), which was recognised as one of the best companies to work for in Asia at The HR Asia Awards 2019. Scoring above the Singapore average across measures, the company was acknowledged as an organisation that creates purposeful job opportunities and one that encourages continuous learning.

With four decades of experience in the early childhood care and education sector, NFC currently supports over 20,000 children and their families. Even as it creates a nurturing learning environment for young children during their formative years, the organisation places a strong emphasis on building an engaging and happy workplace through various initiatives.

They include efforts such as empowering staff through a range of teaching tools and resources, providing opportunities for professional and personal development as well as building trust and respect among colleagues.

Coupled with NFC’s vision that every child deserves equal opportunities to a good start in life, these efforts have kept the passion for work going strong for its team of staff comprising early childhood and corporate professionals – something that Ms Rita Lim, Ms Dawn Hu and Ms Wu Yingshan can attest to.

While each of them has a different job scope and unique experiences within NFC, they all have something in common: A satisfying and rewarding career.

A WORK CULTURE OF COLLABORATION, TRUST AND RESPECT

For them, a work culture that focuses on collaboration, trust and respect stands out at NFC.

Ms Hu, principal of The Little Skool-House At-Kent-Vale, first joined NFC as an English teacher in 2010. She said that interning at My First Skool and The Little Skool-House while pursuing a diploma course in Early Childhood Education sealed her decision to join the organisation.

“The positive experiences I had with my mentors and centre principals led me to view NFC as a company that values the importance of working with parents, staff and children,” recalled Ms Hu.

Currently holding a Master of Education, Ms Hu said that NFC’s work culture is collaborative and everyone works towards a common goal.

“There is no ‘I’ but more of ‘we’ moments. Teachers support one another when they have difficulties in coping with a challenging child by sharing ideas and checking in with one another. Teachers share their teaching experiences and collaborate to find better ways to deliver lessons,” she explained.

Echoing this sentiment, Ms Wu, 38, an assistant director of marketing, said NFC functions like a “big family” where trust and respect take centre stage.

Other ways in which the organisation builds trust and respect among its staff is through initiatives such as the annual employee engagement survey and townhall engagement sessions where staff can provide feedback to the management.

EMPOWERED TO DEVELOP PROFESSIONALLY

Exposure to a variety of professional development opportunities empowers NFC’s staff to become thought leaders in their field.

Since joining NFC as an English teacher in 2009, Ms Rita Lim went on to serve as a principal for six years and then an assistant manager at NFC's headquarters.

34-year-old Ms Rita Lim joined NFC as an English teacher in 2009 as she was drawn to its mission to make quality child development and care services accessible to working families, including those from disadvantage backgrounds.

She has since experienced an exciting, progressive and varied career. In 2013, she helmed My First Skool as a principal for six years before joining NFC’s headquarters, where she now works as an assistant manager at the child support services department.

Part of Ms Lim’s work involves managing a joint three-year research project with the National Institute of Education to study the effects of NFC’s Child Support Model, a testament to the wide range of professional development opportunities available for the company’s staff.

The NFC Child Support Model is a three-pronged approach aimed at supporting the well-being and learning of children from low-income families and children with learning needs.

Ms Lim said: “When I first joined NFC, I never thought I would one day be doing research management. Initially, I was a bit worried about managing the project as I wasn’t sure if I was up to mark. 

"However, I was given support and guidance as the project went along. The empowerment the organisation has given me as well as my bosses’ feedback and guidance have been very helpful.”

For Ms Hu, the exposure to various learning and training opportunities at every stage of her career has enabled her to grow professionally from a teacher to a centre principal.

Her training opportunities have gone beyond Singapore. She attended overseas training in Hungary when she was a senior teacher and the experience and exposure helped to enhance her teaching.

“I also attended overseas learning trips to Bali and Australia to gain more insights into sustainable education and nature pedagogy, which are in line with Early Childhood Development Agency’s focus on outdoor learning,” she added.

Ms Wu Yingshan, an assistant director of marketing at NFC, found the opportunity to lead new initiatives in the company to be immensely fulfilling.

For Ms Wu, having the opportunity to lead and champion new initiatives at work has been immensely fulfilling.

“There is space for staff to try new things, which leads to a greater sense of achievement and empowerment. I was given the opportunity to help the team adopt a digital marketing automation platform as well as pick up digital marketing skills,” said Ms Wu.

PROMOTING PERSONAL GROWTH AND WELL-BEING

Beyond work and professional skills, NFC also offers support for employees’ personal self-improvement, welfare and well-being.

On the personal front, Ms Wu, a mother of two, shared that she received invaluable tips from her teaching colleagues on how to support her children’s learning and development. Her children are aged five and 10.

“From making learning fun to dealing with picky eaters, I’ve picked up so many tips from my colleagues,” she said.

As a working mother of two children aged four-and-a-half and six years, Ms Lim said NFC’s family-friendly policies have helped her maintain good work-life balance.

One of the benefits offered is the family care leave scheme, which allows staff to take leave to care for family members such as their spouse and parents. There are also regular sponsorships for interest workshops to encourage staff to explore interests beyond their profession, such as leather crafting.

NFC’s commitment to staff well-being shone through during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ms Hu shared that during the Circuit Breaker period, the company conducted exercise workshops to motivate staff to stay physically healthy. 

Ms Lim said she was touched when her boss expressed concern after sensing she was pushing herself too hard during the Circuit Breaker period.

“My boss was very understanding and encouraged me to take some days off to spend time with my children. I appreciate that she takes an interest in my family life and has the view that life is not only about work,” she said.

A CAREER THAT ALLOWS YOU TO GROW AND GIVE BACK TO SOCIETY

Reflecting on their journey at NFC, the three professionals shared that they hope to continue to contribute to the organisation’s early childhood education model and create an environment that provides children from all walks of life with a nurturing, happy childhood.

Ms Wu said: “I hope to contribute by looking into the digital learning landscape for the preschool sector and see how we can better bridge the digital divide for families.”

Drawing on her own experience, Ms Hu said support and trust at work are crucial for individuals looking into a career in early childhood education.

“In NFC, support is always provided and you will have a platform to share your opinions. It is a place where I’ve grown positively as an educator and developed great teamwork with my colleagues,” she said.

Ms Lim believes the best way to give back to society is to build the next generation by giving children a high-quality education. “If you are looking for a career that allows you to give back to society, NFC is the place for you,” she said.

Embark on a rewarding career by being part of the NTUC First Campus’ way of life. Visit https://bit.ly/CNAAdvertorial.

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