Staff Stories, November 2020
Mr. Isa Bin Othman
Senior Admin Executive,
What sparked your interest to switch from the private sector to the social service sector, and how was it like for you during the initial transition?
Switching to the social service sector wasn’t planned. Administrative roles exist across most industries. Although experiences may vary among organizations, administrative work remains unchanged: the ethics and principles of admin are the same. Hence, it was not a big factor in my decision to switch sectors. What drew me to Boys’ Town was the warmth yet corporate professionalism I felt through the interaction with the people I met during the interview.
My initial transition was not smooth sailing. Often it was difficult to hold a work conversation since nothing interesting happens in the administrative department! Comparatively, social workers are always discussing a variety of cases and experiences. Hence, it may be easy to feel left out at times if we were not from the same department.
Fortunately, I am under good mentorship by my manager. Communication is open and informal and everyone is encouraged to speak up during meetings. We have a monthly session with the manager discussing not only work issues, but issues regarding our well-being. Thus, I always feel heard and supported! In addition, it is a Boys’ Town tradition where new joiners are tasked to organise company gatherings such as Christmas lunch and other flagship events such as Flag Day where all staff participate in. These new event involvements forged new friendships which gave me a sense of belonging working in this department and organization.
As the first BT O.N.E award recipient, what personal qualities do you think are needed to work in the social service sector?
Humility is the main quality one should possess. Disclaimer: Being a BT O.N.E recipient does not prove I have attained this quality. In reality, I lack it tremendously. It is a constant struggle as I learn through experience, mistakes and my ongoing journey in Boys’ Town. Below are some inspiring words from a book I recently read – Getting Better by Todd Davis:
“Humility is what allows me to say, “I’m sorry. I made a mistake.” Humility is what prompts me to think, “What’s going on with my co-worker today?” Humility helps me feel happy about someone else’s success. Humility keeps me curious - in a state of continuous learning. Humility helps me forgive, even when the person who’s wronged me hasn’t apologized. Humility tells me there are many right solutions to solving the same problem. Humility gives me courage to be honest with a co-worker in a respectful way. Humility reminds me to be patient with myself and others, and to know that we are all in the process of getting better.”
Boys’ Town organised a Charity Futsal as part of our fundraising and being one of the organizing committee members, can you share with us your experience?
My passion for football got me excited at first, but the excitement was short-lived. The event had a fundraising target and the Guest of Honour was the Chairman of our Board of Directors and naturally, there was pressure building up to ensure everything was in order. On top of that, it was trying to ensure participants gathered at the same place and time, deciding where’s the best location, what’s the best day, what happens if it rains, what food to serve, where’s the nearest hospital for emergency purposes (the list goes on). It took months of preparation just to organise a half-day event.
On the bright side, I had the opportunity to work with the Community Partnerships (CP) department organising the event from the planning phase to execution. The highlight of the planning phase was seeing CP negotiating tirelessly with the vendor. Initially I felt embarrassed but due to their persistence, we got a larger event space for free which made the event more organized and ultimately maximising our fundraising goal.
Overall, the event was a success. We achieved the fundraising target and raised awareness. What made it special was witnessing staff contributing by taking on the roles as emcees and game officials, providing transportation and logistics and being there to lend their support for our participating youths. It was a truly BT O.N.E spirit!