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EA of the Year winner treats colleagues like family
"I have two families. One at home and one at work," says senior administrative assistant Michelle Ng (third from right), 47, beaming with pride.
She is so close to her colleagues and supervisors at Proterra Investment Advisors — a private equity firm that invests in agriculture, food, and metals and mining — that she considers them family. Last week, her ability to go far beyond the extra mile won her the 2016 Page Personnel Executive Assistant of the Year award.
The award, now in its fourth year, recognises the contributions of Singapore's administrative professionals and saw over 170 submissions.
Ms Ng, who has been with Proterra for a total of 10 years, has not had a typical 9am-to-6pm office work week since the start of the year.
"Up until six months ago, I always came to a hard stop in the office at 6pm so that I could prepare a healthy, home-cooked meal for my family," says the mum of three children aged between 18 and 22.
But a split between Proterra and its parent company late last year, changed everything. Losing the parent company’s support meant Proterra's IT and HR functions had to be rebuilt from the ground up.
Faced with the possibility of the office shutting down for good, Ms Ng stepped up -- even if it meant working overtime and weekends.
Learning from scratch
In addition to her regular duties, Ms Ng oversaw the renovation process for Proterra’s new six-person office, started corporate accounts and helped rebuild the firm’s IT systems.
"I had to learn many things from scratch. I spent so much time at work that the office became my second home," says Ms Ng, who was retrenched by Proterra's parent company in 2008 only to return years later because of her prior good performance.
She is grateful for the support she receives from her husband and daughter Samantha and sons, Sebastian and Samson (right). They went for months without home-cooked meals without any complaints, she says.
To make up for lost time, she makes it a point to arrive home by 10pm to have chats with them and catch up on their day.
"I see my colleagues as my family. I couldn't let them down," she says.
Now that the company's has transitioned well, Ms Ng says her working hours will start to stabilise.
But that does not mean her career journey stops there. Come November, encouraged by her manager Chua Koh Peng and her colleagues, she will be taking an international compliance course to better support her company.
Mr Chua, who also nominated her for the EA of the Year award, says, “Although she started as an administrative assistant, she has grown into the role of as office manager. She always goes beyond the call of duty, is able to grab the bull by its horns and shows tremendous initiative. She truly deserves her EA of the Year title.”
Once, he recalled, Ms Ng was the only person in the office who answered a 3 a.m. compliance exercise phone call from the firm's global headquarters in the United States.
“When I asked her why she picked up the phone in the wee hours, she said 'You travel all the time, so I keep my phone by my bedside so that I can help you in case you run into trouble',” says Mr Chua, who accompanied Ms Ng and her two sons to the awards ceremony held at Page Personnel's Raffles Place office.
“This is a perfect example of how she goes beyond the ordinary in anticipating our needs.”
Watch the video interviews with Ms Ng and Mr Chua below: