The Insider caught up quickly with Maria Tan on the highs and lows of events management.

Maria is an Events Manager with the Office of Education and is also a two-times Values Ambassador Awards nominee. This is Maria's take on 5 questions we put to her.


1. How did you end up managing events?
It was in 2001 when an opportunity to start a new department at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) got me interested. We had to plan and organise mental health education programmes and activities. I enjoyed a decade of events and programme management in the healthcare industry – at IMH and Changi General Hospital - before moving to Duke-NUS.

To this day, events management remains my core specialisation and I continue to learn and grow with each event.

2. What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
The rewards are mostly intangible. A pat on the back, messages of thanks and a sense of fulfilment. Working with a great team is also very gratifying.

3. Events management can be quite stressful at times. Did you encounter any instances that gave you an adrenalin rush?
One particular incident still stands out in my mind. It was possibly the lowest point in my life when something really bad unexpectedly happened at a major event. In my mixed state of shock, anger and helplessness, I experienced the instant and immediate assistance and support from my team, who helped with a solution and salvaged the situation. I will never forget that day. My heart still races when I think back to that moment!

4. If you could plan an event for someone famous, who would it be and why?
Action superstar Jackie Chan! I am a great fan of his movies and I admire his passion in movie-making. Police Story 3 is one movie that left the biggest impact on me, among the many films he has done over the years. He also appears to be a really easy-going person, so any event for him may not be too difficult to stage.

5. What do you love doing most when you need a break from work?
Plan a vacation! I would love to travel to every corner of the world if I could. I particularly enjoy itinerary planning, researching on destinations, reading travel blogs and forums, and finally packing for the trip! Of course, I hate to unpack after the vacation as that signals the end of a memorable experience.

If it is a short, regular break from work, Korean drama serials and mobile video games are my go-to sources of enjoyment.


Read what Duke-NUS MD student Kenneth Chin has to say about Maria…

“Being in Duke-NUS for the past four years, there is an unsung hero whose hands make every school event run immaculately. I would liken Maria to the conductor of a grand orchestra. Her planning is thorough and her execution spot-on. The result is always a beautiful symphony and a resoundingly successful event. She has always been such a joy to work with, highly esteemed and well loved by students; she is never short of student volunteers willing to contribute. It is truly such a joy and privilege to have her on our side!“

Kenneth Chin is the Class' President for Welfare and heads the Student Ambassador Programme.


Here is a photo account of some of the events Maria has organised for the Office of Education over the years!