To LTC (NS) Chow Cheok Kai, chairman of the SAFRA Yishun Country Club Executive Committee, volunteers are bound not just by passion but shared interests, in an interview with NSMAN.
What is your occupation and your role at SAFRA?
As chairman of the SAFRA Yishun Country Club Executive Committee, I work closely with the team to ensure that the club is well managed and its offerings are relevant to the needs of our members.
I also sit on other committees at SAFRA. I chair the SAFRA Youth Network and SMART SAFRA [to be renamed Digital Transformation] committees, and was also in the Working Group for SAFRA Strategic Review 2019.
At work, I am head of Payment and E-Banking Operations at OCBC Bank.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced as part of Men of SAFRA?
SAFRA’s mission is to express our appreciation to NSmen for their contributions to national defence. These men are at different stages of their lives, and have different interests and needs. It’s a challenge for SAFRA to appeal to people across such a large demographic.
Tell us why volunteering at SAFRA is important.
I look at volunteering as a small way to give back to society. NSmen volunteers are important to SAFRA because they not only help to run the clubs and plan events, they also represent its target audience.
Volunteers help to provide feedback on how SAFRA is faring in achieving its mission.
How do you juggle between your career and personal life?
I think it’s important to set boundaries, especially with technology that keeps us connected at all times. We have to purposefully set aside time to rest, recharge and catch up with friends and family. I try to put everything on my calendar – even lunch hour – and timebox the things I need to do.
I find that this helps me to start and end on time. It also helps me keep a balance without being sucked into a cycle where I feel I’m obliged to respond to every message at work.
How do your family members feel about your role as a volunteer at SAFRA?
They are very supportive. I have three children and bring them to SAFRA clubs and events whenever possible. They enjoy the swimming pool and Kids Amaze. These are part of the benefits of being a SAFRA member and an NSman.
Draw on an anecdote as a SAFRA volunteer that gave you the most personal satisfaction.
I think the greatest satisfaction comes from having made many friends through volunteering! I’ve met volunteers who amaze me with their willingness to devote their time and energy to helping make SAFRA a more attractive destination for NSmen. Curiously, after being a volunteer, I feel more appreciated as an NSman than before.
What are some of the main takeaways based on your past experiences as a volunteer?
There are multiple opportunities to learn while volunteering at SAFRA. For example, I was on the development committee of SAFRA Punggol before it was built. I had never been involved in the building of a club before. So much went into the planning of the club exterior, layout and vendor mix – it was an eye-opening experience. That was of great help when we were planning the upgrading of SAFRA Yishun.