Mr Paul Long, Executive Director, Family Life Society
If Mr Paul Long had aced that eye sight test, he could have been flying the plane over the jubilant crowd at the National Day celebrations, honoured to be achieving his childhood dream.
But as fate has it, he failed that test, and is now the Executive Director for the Family Life Society, contributing in another way to society. Even then, he took a roundabout way to the social service sector. He studied marketing and e-commerce in his earlier days, and worked at 2 Japanese MNCs, and 1 local SME. One day, a friend emailed him a job opening for a leadership role in a social service organisation, and he decided to take the plunge to try something new. Some people might balk at a mid career switch, but he has shown that it is entirely possible!
One of the misconceptions he heard about social service sector was the low salary, as compared to the private sector. Besides that, people purportedly work more in this industry because of manpower constraints. But Mr Long is now happy to dispel that misconception, with NCSS actively encouraging all social service professionals to level up their skill sets, and motivating them correspondingly with a deserved remuneration boost. And that is what Mr Long is also doing, the latest under his belt the ACE Capstone Leadership Programme for Non-Profits course to enhance leadership development and be better equipped to lead his organisation. One of the components he studied in a strategic planning module is the Theory of Change, and he has since used it to apply and test the programmes that Family Life Society is running, so that he and the board could assess their programmes’ impact, and whether the activities supporting them are sound and appropriate.
|“In order to be an effective leader, one must be able to empathise with the staff and volunteers they work daily with, and see things from their perspective.”
As a result of the course, Mr Long finds that he is now more confident in executing daily tasks and projects. The personal coaching component is also useful, allowing him to manage his own development as a person, which had an indirect but positive impact on his organisation. Another benefit of the course is the sheer amount of valuable knowledge shared by the network of leaders who attended the course, something that he could bring back to the Society to bring it forward. “I would definitely recommend it to all leaders in social service agencies. It is highly relevant, and there is so much practical knowledge to gain from the interaction.” One of his key strengths in his line of work is his ability to put people at ease, in terms of people management. To him, in order to be an effective leader, one must be able to empathise with the staff and volunteers they work daily with, and see things from their perspective. One of the greatest challenges Mr Long came across in his work is trying to manage so many things at one time, but he is getting the hang of it as time goes by. He is now able to prioritise what needs attention, what is important and urgent for him to settle, while also delegating more to others. After a long day at work, the sight of his two boys rushing to hug and kiss him the moment he opens the door is sufficient to warm his heart. The love and support from his wife is definitely another crucial factor for his success, and happiness, in life. And that is why he is more than capable as an ace-pilot leader to steer Family Life Society, the perfect representation of what the Society envisions for each and every one in society.