By: Reza Shah
Associate Director, Planning & Organizational Development Department

I would find it mind-blowingly challenging if my daily work responsibility is to ensure that colleagues comply strictly with financial guidelines and processes – I am pretty sure that I will rub many shoulders the wrong way! 

Despite this inherent challenge, our colleagues in the Finance Department have somehow managed to turn this into an opportunity to deliver distinctively excellent service. When asked, Pauline Sim, Finance Director shared, “Financial policies and procedures have to be adhered as our School has to uphold accountability. However, in our role as finance professionals, we endeavor to make the human interface more pleasant for each of our colleague by explaining the applicable policies and facilitating the processes”.

The Silver - Vogel Partnership
Relationship: Husband & Wife (13 years)
In Duke-NUS/Singapore since January 2012  

By: Dharshini Subbiah
Assistant Manager, Communications

My name is Dharshini but I’ve been called Dini since I was born. I’ve lived in five countries. I speak three languages – really I only speak one properly but use three different accents. I have 658 Facebook friends but only have about 10 close friends (who live in five different countries).  I have six hobbies and in a day I do what feels like a million things. 

I was born in Malaysia and moved to the United States when I was nine years old. It was an exciting experience for a kid, who was raised on American action movies (I have two older brothers). What I realized when I got to school, that first day at Old Greenwich Elementary, was that I was different. I looked different, I sounded different and all the words I thought meant something, really meant something else.


Jamal Alivey,  
Research Assistant, Program in Cancer and Stem Cell Biology

I was born in Azerbajian, a young independent country of 9.5 million people located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe.  It is said that Azerbaijan's name is derived from Persian and means "the land of fire." This is a reference to the surface oil deposits that naturally burns on a hillside near the capital city of Baku.  Together, with Georgia and Armenia, this area is known as the South Caucasus and is rich in history, culture, cuisines and natural resources. 

Gisela Garcia-Alvarez
Research Fellow, Programme in Neuroscience & Behavioural Disorders

After my first postdoctoral research stint in Paris, I made the decision to move to Asia as I was not ready to settle down in Europe yet. That was 5 years ago and I still remember my first day at the new Duke-NUS campus. 

Since then, I have worked on the Drosophil and Mice models with Assoc Professors Wang Hongyan and Asst Prof Marc Fivaz respectively under the Program in Neuroscience and Behavioral Disorders.

Enjoying a cool morning walk at the Singapore Botanic Gardens

Getting to know Katheryn,  
Deputy Director, Joint Office of Academic Medicine (JOAM)

The Insider (TI): Do share your industry experience with us…

Katheryn Maung (KM): I started my career as a writer in a publishing firm before I was wooed into the glitzy fast-paced world of advertising. After seven years of late nights, countless campaigns and coffee overdoses, I decided to do something more meaningful with my life and joined a Voluntary Welfare Organization serving the needy. That experience was a turning point for me as I realized that every one of us, no matter how incapable we feel, can actually help another when we put our heart into it. 

By: Annie Kirk-Jeffs,
Executive, Office of Clinical Sciences

My name is Annie Kirk-Jeffs and I work as an executive in the Post Award Guidance (PAG) Core of the Academic Medicine Research Institute (AMRI), Office of Clinical Sciences. I am originally from Northern Ireland, and I say originally because it has been 20++ years and 6 countries since I lived there. Out of those 6 countries, the safety, cleanliness and weather all conspire to make Singapore the finest so far!

Prior to Duke-NUS the majority of my working life was spent as cabin crew or as we “in the know” call it - a Trolley Dolly. 

Flying around the world, meeting different people, experiencing a plethora of cultures, food and places is exhilarating and does ensure that one adapts easily to most situations.

Janice Tan,  
Executive, Communications

I joined the lively and exciting Office of Communications, Development and Alumni Relations (OCDAR) at Duke-NUS in 2012 as a member of the Communications team. My day usually starts with media scans for features or mentions of Duke-NUS and developments in the global and local medical and healthcare landscapes. Although the bulk of my time is spent producing Vital Science, I have recently been handed the role of co-managing the school’s social media platforms. 

Since I spend most of my time editing and looking at other people’s writings, The Insider decided to ‘turn the tables’ and invited me to contribute a piece on Earth Hour.


Tang Yew Chung,  
Research Fellow, Program in Cancer & Stem Cell Biology

Getting to know Lai Wan
Official Designation: Associate Director, Internal Audit, Dean's Office
Industry Experience: 20 years



 Friends from Orientation group with inspiring photo-shoot poses!

TI: This is your first job in a school setting. How does it compare with your prior work experiences?