Suria Sio (Senior Executive, Communications)
& Tan Hong Zhi (Executive, Finance),  
Duke-NUS Staff Recreation Club (FY 2014/2015) members

Suria and Hongzhi manage the SRC's publicity and budgeting efforts respectively

The Insider (TI): Have you served on any Staff Recreation Club previously? 

Tan Hong Zhi (HZ) and Suria Sio (SS): Both of us had been involved in staff recreation activities in our previous jobs (both outside and within Duke-NUS) but this is our first official appointment with the Duke-NUS Staff Recreation Club (SRC).

TI: Have you gained any useful experiences and knowledge from your current SRC role?

HZ: I love working with this bunch of fabulous colleagues. Our team brings together many different strengths and experiences and every member of the team is proficient in his/her own area.  

When we were first appointed to the SRC, we had to familiarize ourselves with this new area of service. The variety of recreational activities available is pretty amazing once you start looking. Our daily work duties can sometimes overwhelm us, having recreational activities is a great way for our colleagues to try out something fresh and gain something positive. They may just be recreational activities for now , but you never know when the skills acquired will come in handy. One of my interesting ‘finds’ was the ‘Building a snow-globe workshop’. We hired students from a local arts school to conduct this workshop. Although the students were inexperienced and nervous, they were extremely open to comments and suggestions. 

TI: What challenges did you (or the team) experience during the course of planning and organizing SRC activities?

HZ: I would call it an interesting situation rather than a challenge. To begin with, we had a long list of ideas that all seemed do-able. Brainstorming was fun, and our meetings progressed intensively as we started to shortlist and examine the feasibility of ideas based on budget and safety . We often improved, fine-tuned and even changed our plans along the way.  There are only six of us so it was challenging juggling SRC commitments and our own work responsibilities. 

SS: We definitely had our share of unexpected and interesting situations. The SRC team was one of the earliest groups to use the new Centralized Procurement Management System (CPMS) in October. This was in the midst of a really busy period for most of us.  At the same time, some of us had to source for suitable venues, vendors while working on the required paperwork for the 2015 Dinner and Dance event. 

Fortunately, we had the full support of Pei Leng who was our contact point for the CPMS. She patiently guided us every step of the way and that really took a huge load off our minds. We also appreciate Xiaoqi (HR Department) for helping us with all our SRC purchase orders since then.

Naturally, there are times when ideas and opinions differ within the team.  To circumvent that, we practice a healthy dose of pragmatism, democracy and lots of humor!  

TI: Do you think the SRC has been successful in engaging staff meaningfully?

SS: We want to cater to as many interest groups as possible so we introduced a series of different workshops, fitness and dance classes, lifestyle talks and, general activities every month. The registration of every activity we rolled out so far, typically closed within a day. Other than our regular participants, we also see an increasing number of new faces signing up for our events. In all the events, we like to encourage our colleagues to sit separately from their usual groups and use the opportunity to mingle and get to know new people.

We actively seek opinions informally by asking colleagues about their interests and preferences. Although we cannot cater to everyone’s wishes, we try to be as inclusive as possible. 

I have a story to share. Once, I received a call from a non Duke-NUS staff about one of our workshops. He insisted we accept his registration. It was exasperating trying to explain the obvious that we cannot do it but looking back, it is both amusing and somewhat flattering for us.

TI: How would you describe your team members ?

HZ: Our team members are wonderful people. Their great sense of humor makes 'work' so much more enjoyable. When we first got together, we were very formal and quiet around each other. Nowadays, whenever we gather, quiet moments are rare.

Just last month, they celebrated my birthday with lots of *Ang Ku Kueh  because I joked about it once. Someone obviously took notes! Jokes and fun aside, I really appreciate that everyone is proactive in contributing to the team and to the activities. 

SS: Want to make a guess who is the noisest in our team? Ha! Although it took us awhile we have grown to appreciate each other and work effectively as a team. To a great extent, we leveraged on each other's interests and aptitude. 

Once, I couldn’t make it to a site recce for the 2015 Dinner & Dance project due to a last minute work commitment. I asked Florence and Kathleen to go on my behalf. They agreed without hesitation and even offered additional help.  The willingness to step in to do what is necesary is common occurance among our team members and I cherish them for it. 

For ease of communication, we had created a WhatsApp group.  Typically, our messages are tied to the planing and logistics of our activities. That is, until recently when we hit a record high of 526 WhatsApp messages in about six hours, much to our own amazement and amusement.  It was an interesting episode because none of those messages were remotely connected to any of the SRC activities we were planning. 

TI: What are you most thankful for?

HZ & SS: On behalf of our team (photo on the left), we would like to thank everyone for supporting all our SRC activities. It really brightens our day knowing that we played a role in building friendships and memories in Duke-NUS.  

Please continue to look out for our mailers as we have planned more exciting activities. They are now officially on the ‘while stocks last’ mode. As always, first come, first-served!   

The Insider: For a small team of six, the SRC team definitely did very well. Thank you for providing us with such a great variety of staff recreational activities. We had a great time learning and bonding and can’t wait for your next line-up of events. 

Footnote:  *Ang Ku Kueh is a small turtle-shelled shaped traditional Chinese pastry made with soft sticky glutinous rice flour and some filling in the centre.