Mum trades sales job for military career

Madam Goh Mei Lan is one of 50 mid-career professionals hired by the SAF between last April and March this year as part of efforts to boost its ranks amid declining birth rates.
Madam Goh Mei Lan is one of 50 mid-career professionals hired by the SAF between last April and March this year as part of efforts to boost its ranks amid declining birth rates.ST PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN

Having worked in a sales job in the private sector for more than 20 years, Madam Goh Mei Lan decided to seek her second wind in the military. "I felt I was stagnating... I needed a change and to do something that would challenge me," said the 41-year-old, who has an 11-year-old son. She traded her corporate wear for military fatigues at the start of this year and is now training to be an army engineer.

Madam Goh is one of 50 mid-career professionals hired by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) between last April and March this year as part of efforts to boost its ranks amid declining birth rates.

As the oldest woman to be recruited as a combat soldier, Madam Goh said her journey has not been easy. "All the people around me were very young women who were fitter ," she said.

But she held her own in training.

"I was not the slowest during our runs or combat training. I also had previous work experience and could teach them how to cope with the workload," she said.

Colonel Francis Kee Eng Chye, who heads the SAF's Joint Manpower Department, is targeting those who want to make a mid-career switch as "they bring with them valuable skills and knowledge into the organisation".

He added: "They can join us at different stages of their working life as we develop them into leaders of our nation's defence... to realise their full potential."

Jermyn Chow

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 22, 2015, with the headline 'Mum trades sales job for military career'. Print Edition | Subscribe