HPB Scholar Ma Qianhui, a Manager at the Workplace Planning and Company Outreach Department leads various teams in the Workplace Health and Outreach Division on workplace-based health programmes. The 24-year-old has a Master of Health Science and a Bachelor of Arts in majoring in Psychology; Public Health and Medicine; and Science and the Humanities.
We spend more than half our lives at our workplace, and yet, the thought of a “healthy workplace life” rarely crosses our minds. We are eager to begin detoxes and diets, or hit the gym during our off hours, but somehow it never occurs to us that when it comes to a healthy lifestyle, the office is a great place to start.
Thankfully, while we may forget, the Health Promotion Board (HPB) does not. It is constantly spearheading healthy workplace initiatives such as a public return-on-investment calculator for workplace health programmes, data visualisation dashboards and predictive analytics for operational excellence, and school-to-workplace mental wellbeing transition programmes for new entrants to the working world.
These and more are the brainchildren of HPB staff and scholars like Ma Qianhui, a Manager at the Workplace Planning and Company Outreach Department. The 24-year-old is already putting her Master of Health Science to good use in the field, leading various teams in the Workplace Health and Outreach Division.
Her input ensures that a healthy workplace is always a winning proposition for both employer and employee, and she told us how.
Being with HPB, one would assume that you are interested in healthcare and overall well-being. How did the passion come about?
Having seen how good and bad health choices affected friends and family, I thought: instead of having to incur hefty expenses for medical treatments downstream, what if there are some tweaks to our lifestyles earlier on that could prevent all these implications?
The power of public health that permeates all aspects of our lives was really intriguing to me, thus I developed a passion for this ever-evolving field and sincerely hope to impact the lives of individuals in our nation and beyond through caring for their well-being.
We understand HPB supported you all the way to your master's degree. How do your studies relate to your work at HPB?
I was very fortunate to have HPB's support for my master's studies, which allowed me to delve deeper into health sciences, especially in the mental health and health communication fields. My experience in analytical research and public health programme development helped me significantly in managing big data projects as part of my current job, and in charting new waters to develop a transition mental wellbeing programme for new entrants into the workplace.
My studies have also equipped me with a global view of health development and analytical insights, which came into the forefront when I was deployed to oversee national testing operations with HPB's evolving role in COVID-19.
Tell us more about your current roles and responsibilities.
I am currently in the Workplace Health and Outreach Division, where I am leading several deep-dive data analytics workstreams for operational excellence, to monitor key business performance indicators across the nation's workplace health programmes.
I also lead the development of Singapore's first localised and publicly available return-on-investment calculator for workplace health programmes, to help companies build the business case for investing in the health of their employees.
Through HPB's dynamic partnerships and collaborations with the Whole-of-Government, employers and the union, I am leading the multi-agency secretariat team of the Tripartite Oversight Committee on Workplace Safety and Health, to steer the strategic direction of the nation's workplace safety and health programmes.
Lastly, I lead the team developing a mental wellbeing programme to support fellow youths who are graduating from schools and entering the workplace.
How has your scholarship helped you excel at your current role?
Since the start of my career, I have been given many opportunities to work in and lead cross-matrix teams, pushing me beyond my comfort zone to hone my skills in complex project management, presentations to key political and business leaders, data analytics and programme development.
Being in workplace outreach as my first rotation also greatly opened my eyes to dynamic workforce health and safety needs, as well as the plethora of health priorities in any individual's life. That challenged me to develop as a public health professional, and gave me the confidence to represent the board when engaging different groups from ministerial stakeholders and business leaders to also small businesses, employees and new entrants to the workforce.
Do you have any advice for scholars hoping to pursue a career with HPB?
Health promotion is an exciting field: we could never have expected Covid-19 at the start of 2019. Similarly, we are unable to anticipate health conditions that would impede us from attaining our ideal quality of life in our years to come.
It is an uphill battle to get the buy-in of all the stakeholders in our health, be it individuals, loved ones, or employers – but that's what makes 2020 and beyond an exciting time to promote the importance of health and protect the ones you love through your own actions. It is challenging, but I encourage you to stand true to your goals and continually think of innovative ways to keep health at top priority.