A support pillar for her team
A strong believer in the spirit of teamwork and leading by example, Lai Quen leads by working through the trenches with her team. As Client Delivery Lead for Healthcare at NCS, she insists on taking a hands-on approach when it comes to working with other delivery leads and project managers to ensure that projects are completed successfully, meet the projects financials and with high customer satisfaction.
“Whenever there are delivery issues or challenges, I will work with the project managers and delivery leads to try and resolve the problem,” she said. “For example, in a service organisation, resource is always a challenge, so we need to make sure that our project managers are well supported in terms of talent and the required capacity.”
Lai Quen is no stranger to service delivery. Prior to joining NCS in 2018, she had accumulated a wealth of over 30 years of global business services experience.
Working towards a mutually beneficial outcome
In her current role at NCS, Lai Quen sees it as her duty to reach out to her team members when they encounter difficulties and try to identify the right expertise to help them.
She also guides the team when they come across contractual challenges. She recounted an incident whereby a customer had asked for the price of a service contract to be reduced by 20 to 30 percent, even after the NCS team had gone through a few rounds of negotiations.
“The customer would not budge”, said Lai Quen, “And I knew that if we don’t solve this issue, we weren’t going to close the deal”.
She examined the contract and past service records to show the customer examples of where high system availability requirements could be adjusted without undermining the organisation’s business requirements. The customer eventually agreed to the adjusted targets.
“In order to effectively close a contract, each party needs to benefit in some way,” she said, “In this situation, I will rationalise with the customer so that we can reach a good settlement point between us and the customer.”
Spurring her team to greater heights
Another aspect of Lai Quen’s work is to look at project financials and help the teams to grow their accounts.
“We need to raise awareness that delivery is not just about delivering or managing to the contract. A good project manager, needs to improve the contracted project sold margin and needs to actually grow the contract,” she said. “A delivery lead or project manager is often the best person to do sales, especially in services. Customers have seen them deliver, and have a lot of trust and confidence in them.”
She is proud of the fact that all her project managers and delivery leads have been able to improve the margins of their contract and to grow their contracts. In the past two to three years, NCS Healthcare has grown exponentially, and while the sales and sector leads played a major part in the sales activities, the project managers and delivery leads also contributed a lot to the effort.
A loving wife and daughter-in-law
For Lai Quen, her work in healthcare resonates on a personal level as well. At home, she takes care of her husband, who has been diagnosed with young onset dementia which requires a lot of medical care and attention.
At home, the couple regularly play boardgames like Scrabble – one of her husband’s strong suits during his younger days - which Lai Quen sees as a good way for him to continue working on the things he can do and stimulating his brain.
She also makes it a point to get him to take part in other activities, enrolling him in day care activities designed for dementia patients and joining him in advocacy programmes to share their experiences with others.
Besides her husband, Lai Quen also cares for his mother who is bedridden. Her experience has led to a renewed appreciation of the various subsidy programmes that the Singapore government has introduced for its citizens, such as Pioneer Generation and CHAS, both of which have benefitted her mother-in-law.
This is also where her professional and personal life connect. At NCS, Lai Quen is very much involved in the systems that support some of these subsidy programmes, and she has no plans to give up working despite her heavy caregiver responsibilities. “Through my work, I find that I am serving myself and my family. Working keeps my brain active and providing some time for respite” she said.