Healthcare, tech fields grooming more leaders

Management fellow Melanie Kam, 35 (centre, in white blouse and black skirt), with current and former management associates at Tan Tock Seng Hospital. They are (clockwise from left) Ms Teo Kaiting, 29; Mr Mohamed Razeen, 26; Ms Suriani Poh, 29; Ms Che
Management fellow Melanie Kam, 35 (centre, in white blouse and black skirt), with current and former management associates at Tan Tock Seng Hospital. They are (clockwise from left) Ms Teo Kaiting, 29; Mr Mohamed Razeen, 26; Ms Suriani Poh, 29; Ms Cheryl Koh, 27; and Mr Allister Tham, 26. The hospital has expanded its management development programmes in recent years to provide more leadership pathways.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

More Management Associate courses being rolled out to groom new grads for leadership roles

Say "Management Associate (MA) programme", and most people may think of the banking and finance industry.

But organisations in industries like healthcare and technology are also rolling out or ramping up such schemes to groom new graduates for leadership positions, to ensure a pipeline of potential leaders.

Changi General Hospital, for instance, will start a two-year MA programme in June this year and hopes to recruit up to six trainees.

Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH), which introduced an 18-month MA programme in 2009, has expanded its management development programmes in recent years to provide more leadership pathways.

Apart from the MA scheme, it now also has a management fellowship programme which grooms executives for directorial roles, and will be introducing a management internship programme this year.

Dr Eugene Fidelis Soh, TTSH's chief executive officer, said these programmes were introduced as it had been difficult to recruit good healthcare administrators.

The MA programme is open to graduates of all disciplines, including those in business, science and the humanities.

"Fresh graduates were not joining healthcare as there was no natural pipeline. The assumption was that healthcare jobs were only for trained specialised clinicians such as doctors and nurses," he said.

There was also a lack of development programmes for students interested in the healthcare sector.

"They did not know how to navigate the industry and felt it was risky as it was not an industry you could break into easily," he added.

Since 2009, interest in TTSH's MA programme has grown.

The number of applicants has doubled, with over 600 people applying for the programme this year. Thirteen MAs were selected last year.

Mr Goh Leong Huat, director of the human resource division at Singapore General Hospital, said that applications for its rotational hospital executive programme have risen "exponentially" since it was introduced in 2009.

Under the programme, fresh graduates work at various healthcare operations departments, such as infrastructure planning and emergency preparedness, on a rotation basis.

Each rotation lasts for two to four years. An average of five new hospital executives join the programme every year, and the hospital has received over 600 applications this year.

Mr Allister Tham, 26, joined TTSH's MA programme last year after he graduated with a biological sciences degree from Nanyang Technological University.

"I have a better idea of what is happening on the ground because I get to interact with both clinical and administrative staff," he said.

As Singapore embarks on its Smart Nation drive, the Infocomm Development Agency (IDA) also started a two-year Technology Associate Programme in 2014 to train fresh graduates to apply technology to real public policy challenges.

Ten candidates were selected from about 100 applicants last year for its first intake.

"There are plans to expand the average cohort size, based on the increasing demand for such talent," said an IDA spokesman. However, this also depends on the quality of the applicants.

Mr El-malique Mohamed Ghazali, 24, a software developer with IDA, has learnt more about the things that could make or break a mobile application project from the the technology associate training.

He said: "I was able to work on a technical project but also learn about the business side of it.

"It was helpful to have a mentor in the programme because I could learn about the paths that he had taken in his career in the IT industry; it's something very valuable for a fresh graduate like me."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 19, 2016, with the headline 'Healthcare, tech fields grooming more leaders'. Print Edition | Subscribe