The third SMA Annual Staff Retreat was held on 25 February 2005 at Goodwood Park Hotel. The retreat focused on preparing and refreshing mindsets for the transition to SMA-2 as well as improvements that could be made towards a more positive work environment in SMA.
On the preparation for the transition to SMA-2, Co-Director Professor Andrew Nee conveyed the broad vision for the second phase. SMA-2 will continue to be an educational and research opportunity, enabled by interactive distance technology that attracts and retains the best engineering and life sciences graduate students as well as researchers from Singapore and other parts of Asia. SMA-2 will also provide a platform and vehicle for organisational learning that will raise the standard of operations for all partner institutions. The intake of students for SMA-2 will continue to consist of high achievers with strong GRE and TOEFL scores, who also bear a track record of having strong leadership and co-curricula activity participation.
A dynamic and cohesive workforce is needed to propel SMA to greater heights. Part of the agenda of the staff retreat thus focused on the work environment and presentations were made by staff on 4 issues – vertical communication, lateral communication, engaging people and SMA core values. On vertical communication, suggestions were raised pertaining to improving communication channels between staff and management. Lateral communication dealt with the effectiveness of communication between staff. On engaging people, views were presented on how to better engage fellows, students and staff of SMA as part of on going efforts to build up the SMA identity. Core values of SMA staff were also revisited and reinforced.
The discussions that followed were open and thought-provoking, as issues were discussed with a common goal in mind – as Professor Chua Soo Jin, Deputy Co-Director of the SMA, articulated – “to be an organisation that delivers”.
Praising the presentations as being “well thought out”, Professor Nee also shared his views and strategies regarding the 4 issues presented and his vision of creating “incentive-cised passion” – that is a passion for work based on a good system of incentives and rewards.