Harnessing the power of teamwork in National Service and healthcare innovation
As Esther Lee donned her SAF No. 4 uniform, her 13-year-old son could not contain his excitement at the thought of his mother “joining the army”. Esther had just been sworn in as part of the new batch of volunteers with the SAF Volunteer Corps (SAFVC), a scheme that allows citizens and permanent residents with no NS commitment to show support for National Service and contribute to defence.
Esther on duty at the SAF Specialist Cadet Graduation Parade on 18 May 2023
For Esther, her dedication to national initiatives extends beyond the SAFVC. As the Senior Manager of Enterprise at the National Health Innovation Centre Singapore (NHIC), she sees herself as a steward of national funds, working to support healthcare innovation through translation, commercialisation and implementation of healthtech innovation. In her daily work, she constantly engages with people from diverse backgrounds, exchanging ideas and insights to develop innovative healthcare solutions. Driven by a passion for the outdoors and a desire to connect with people from all walks of life, while doing her part for national defence, Esther decided to join the SAFVC in 2021.
Esther and her son engaging in one of their favourite hobbies, running!
At NHIC, Esther recognises the importance of keeping abreast with technological advances and leverages her team’s diverse expertise to address any potential obstacles. “Only through teamwork can you accomplish both,” she stressed. Similarly, Esther learned the importance of working together to achieve a common goal during her Basic Training at SAFVC.
As an Auxiliary Security Trooper (AST) in the SAFVC, Esther is responsible for augmenting security operations in support of SAF events and functions. She is also tasked to assist with security operations at access control points at locations such as SAF camps. Her role requires her to be meticulous as every tier of the operation impacts the community’s safety and must be carried out with utmost precision, especially during large-scale public events such as the upcoming National Day Parade.
Engaging with clinician researchers at the NHIC I2Start Roadshow on 10 May 2023
Similarly, in her role at NHIC, Esther works tirelessly to build partnerships with potential innovators. Her attention to detail is unwavering, ensuring that innovators at all stages of their progress; from ideation, productisation, commercialisation to adoption, have access to the necessary resources.
This commitment to precision was particularly evident during the launch of the Innovation to Adopt (I2Adopt) grant last October. Her role was pivotal in ensuring the success of the event, from identifying key stakeholders to meticulously planning the launch. Recognising the potential challenges of a hybrid event, Esther anticipated bottlenecks and worked closely with her team to mitigate any obstacles that may arise. This level of strategic thinking mirrors her approach in SAFVC, where she works with her teammates to connect the dots and overcome obstacles during their training sessions.
Speaking to attendees at the NHIC I2Adopt Launch in October 2022
A true believer in the power of teamwork and camaraderie, Esther considers her experience in SAFVC as a valuable reminder of what can be applied in NHIC. During one of the training sessions, Esther participated in an artillery drill where there was a simulated emergency evacuation. The experience taught her the value of leveraging each other’s abilities and embracing a culture of constant learning, regardless of seniority.
In fact, her section in SAFVC is made up of individuals from diverse backgrounds, age groups and experiences. “In our section, the oldest is 45 years old and the youngest is just 19. There were older ladies who are new citizens and younger ones who are born and bred Singaporeans, we couldn’t be more different yet we learnt to communicate, understand and work together as a section,” Esther recalls fondly.
Esther with her fellow ASTs – Diverse backgrounds, shared mission
Meanwhile, her children remain in awe of their not-so-young mum serving in the SAFVC. Whether it’s in her role at NHIC or as an AST in the SAFVC, 40-year-old Esther embraces every opportunity to learn and thrive alongside her teammates, never shying away from new challenges. With each experience, Esther strives to improve herself, driven by the excitement of discovering something new and the satisfaction of achieving her goals as part of a team.
Esther and her family enjoying the fresh air after their hike at Mount Kinabalu