Ms Peng Haiying, Executive Director, SUN-DAC
“If you can’t heal lives, you can heal hearts.” That is what Haiying’s parents told her, when they gave her their blessings to switch careers and join the social service sector.
In fact, Haiying’s father was a neurosurgeon who chose to leave his lucrative career and open a clinic for the needy who had little access to healthcare facilities and services . His decision to leave the hospital, and move their family to a neighbourhood where there were many needy residents, left a deep impression on Haiying. She recalls going around the neighbourhood to urge residents to receive free medical treatment at their clinic as a child. This was an experience that has led her to where she is today.
In her current role, Haiying has her hands full overseeing three centres under SUN-DAC, an organisation set up in 1990 to provide day care and constructive opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities, in a Day Activity Centre setting.
While she only joined SUN-DAC in 2015, the organisation has undergone a huge transformation since , with improvements that are felt by staff, clients and their caregivers. In fact, SUN-DAC was awarded the 2017 “Best Employer for Social Service Organisations” by Aon Hewitt.
“We humbled to receive the Award. The Aon team came down to conduct a comprehensive interview for each and every one of us assessing our people practices, work flow and other components,” Haiying shares.
|"My daily routine is packed with meetings after meetings, and neverending admin work. My joy is being able to step into the classroom whenever I can. Looking at my clients, seeing them smile, this makes my hard work meaningful and worthwhile."
Haiying believes two crucial factors helped SUN-DAC clinch the prestigious award. The first was how they treat each other at SUN-DAC. Valuing positive relationships with her staff, Haiying learnt why each of them choose to do what they do, despite the difficulties of their jobs. The sharing has brought her and her staff close together like family members supporting each other on a journey to serve.
The second factor is the innovative approach that SUN-DAC uses to engage both staff and clients. For example, SUN-DAC allows staff to take ownership and voice out anything they find wrong or want to improve on at work, by introducing an “Idea of the Month” practice. The exercise also spurs innovation and creativity among staff, who are happy for the opportunity to create change. On the other hand, Sun-Dac’s clients also benefitted greatly from an entirely different programme curriculum based on a “wall-less concept” which helped them foster greater community engagement and build a stronger network of relationships.
Haiying shares, “When the community and our clients are more engaged, our staff become more empowered, becoming an active community network that truly benefits everyone.”
In recognition of her potential in the social service sector, Haiying is part of SSI’s Sun Ray scheme where her leadership ability is being developed and honed. “Sun Ray is important is because we’re the change agents leading growth in the evolving social service sector. We need that change to fully align with needs and expectations of our sector.”
As a leader, she is aware of the need for change as well as continuous learning. According to her, “If we don’t make mistakes, we don’t learn. A leader needs to constantly be updated on all relevant areas. It is all right to make mistakes and be a role model to others You learn fast when you fail fast. Just pick up and learn to do things differently.”
Haiying begins her days at 7a.m, long before her staff and clients stream in. she looks forward to healing hearts and transforming lives and is energised by her clients encouraging smiles.