Gavia Karen Lozada
Management Assistant Officer, 
Programme in Cardiovascular & Metabolic Disorders, Office of Research

The Insider checks in with Karen to find out more about her administrative journey.

1) Why administration?

Prior to Duke-NUS, I was with the Research & Development team at Hewlett Packard (HP) Singapore for 3 years. I supported 3 managers and 20 engineers on administrative matters ranging from scheduling and procurement to events management and more. I realised I really enjoy administrative work as it gives me satisfaction to put things in order for my bosses. Shortly after I left HP, I chanced upon a job opening for a Management Assistant Officer at the Duke-NUS Cardiovascular and Metabolic Disorders (CVMD) Programme and let’s just say the rest is history. I have been with the CVMD team for 3 years now and my main role is to support Prof Stuart Cook (Programme Director), Prof Karl Tryggvason and their lab members.

2) Administration 101…

An administrative job can be quite predictable if I may say. The difference is - you are working with diverse people across a range of differing specializations and with different processes.  You gain knowledge, experience and cultivate good working relationships among your peers.

3) A typical day would be…

Checking my emails and scheduling the calendar appointments. Each week I also catch up with Prof Cook and Prof Tryggvason to discuss their weekly schedules that have been lined up. This can be anything from meetings and events to upcoming trips and overseas visitors. If there is an overseas visitor coming for a seminar, I will usually plan the itinerary and take charge of all necessary logistics.

4) Positivity rules…

Life is about choices and I choose to turn even the most challenging situations into opportunities. There are times when unexpected change, be it at the workplace or home, can hit hard, and I always try to stay calm, think positively and plan for alternative solutions. Citing a work example, I had to change a seminar timing due to conflicting schedules but thankfully, because I had booked the amphitheatre for a longer duration I was able to adjust the time accordingly.

5) We have heard your IT skills are superb…

I’m really no expert and I think everyone around me has pretty good IT skills as well. I was fortunate to have gained relevant IT experience when I worked as a Web Designer and Technical Customer Support in the Internet Service Industry back in the Philippines. These experiences helped me greatly in my previous and current administrative roles in Singapore. I strongly believe that anyone can acquire different skills as long as they are willing to learn and keep practicing and applying that knowledge. In my first year with CVMD, I had a chance to share my knowledge and skills during the development of the CVMD microsite. I volunteered to be involved in the project. Gwen Allen, our former Business Manager was very supportive and wanted to make sure I was comfortable with the role before committing to it as it was an ongoing role where I had to maintain the website and keep the content updated. It was also helpful that I was the appointed content user for the CVMD pages on the main Duke-NUS site as I just wanted to contribute further wherever possible.

6) When I’m not at work…

I am a hands on mum who spends every opportunity I have with my family. Family time is very important and we try to set regular family dates to do activities like: watching movies, eating at our favourite restaurants, playing Xbox games, board games and storytelling sessions.

Karen’s joy & blessings – Naomi at 5 years old & Nash at 3 years old

Family outing at Legoland Malaysia – August 2014

7) A quote that inspires you…

“If they can do it, why can’t I”. Skills can be learned; experiences are irreplaceable. 

I chanced upon this advice by acclaimed actress Drew Barrymore and found it to be really meaningful. ‘Always find love in everything you do, have a positive attitude and be thankful (for even the little things in life :)).

Birthday fun for the kiddos!