Our graduated Professional Development Programme (Leaders) or PDP(L) 2018 participant shares her EC journey from a part timer to cluster manager and how PDP(L) supported her leadership growth!
Having been told that resilience is her strength, Eileen Chay Qiufeng, Cluster Manager at MY World Preschool Ltd, attributes this to her positive attitude towards life as she strongly believes that positivity creates opportunities. This personal philosophy that she holds true to herself is also the driver of her career in the Early Childhood (EC) sector over the past 23 years.
Eileen’s first foray into the EC sector was a holiday job after her ‘O’ levels at a playgroup, where she found herself thoroughly enjoying the time spent interacting with young children. There, she met her first mentor, Ms Irene Seet, who deeply touched Eileen with her passion and vigor in making her classes come alive! Sensing Eileen’s keen interest in early childhood education, Ms Seet paved Eileen’s first steps into her EC journey, by leading her to a full-time job at a childcare centre, where she met her second mentor, Ms Geraldine Lee. Through Ms Lee, Eileen learnt about bringing out the best in each child and recognising them for their individuality. This teaching philosophy has carried through with Eileen till today.
From left to right: Ms Irene Seet, Eileen Chay, Ms Geraldine Lee
Eileen describes her EC journey as “an eventful and rewarding rollercoaster ride, filled with many good and bad days.” While the good days were morale boosters, the bad days provided lessons that fueled and motivated her to make a difference to the children, families, and staff. Eileen shared that “having a positive and resilient mindset expanded my perspectives, and many times helped me turn challenges into opportunities and persevere.” For example, when dealing with tough situations with parents, she saw them as opportunities to forge stronger partnership and was driven to explore different approaches to best connect with them.
Four years ago, she further advanced in her career of being a principal to her current role of cluster manager. Having benefitted from great mentorship herself, she was grateful for this opportunity which allows her to mentor and develop new educators and leaders. However, the new role comes with new challenges and the opportunity to embark on the Professional Development Programme (Leaders) or PDP(L) came at the right moment. She was nominated for the inaugural batch of PDP(L), together with four other leaders from M.Y World. It was also an affirmation and recognition of her good work, and Eileen felt more than honored to be embarking on the three-year professional development journey.
Eileen’s nominator, Ms Jenny Wong, General Manager of MY World Preschool Ltd shared the motivation behind nominating their leaders, “we were excited to have our leaders on the PDP(L) as we believe the programme provides many opportunities for them to broaden their perspectives, as well as acquire and deepen knowledge for their professional growth!”
Eileen Chay (second from left) and other
M.Y World leaders from the PDP(L) 2018 batch
Eileen Chay and her nominator,
Ms Jenny Wong
Since joining PDP(L) in 2018, Eileen could feel her leadership skills and competencies strengthen over the last three years. The many opportunities for self-reflection and discovery during the PDP(L) journey helped her chart out personal learning goals as she strives towards being the leader she aspires to be. In particular, she recalled gaining valuable insights through one of the PDP(L) compulsory modules, The Power of Feedback. The module uses a leadership tool to collate direct feedback from her colleagues and supervisors, which gave her an all-rounded honest review of her leadership style. It was personally insightful and useful, as she learned more about her strengths that she could leverage on, and blind spots which she should work on.
Another exciting aspect of the PDP(L) that Eileen had been looking forward to, was the overseas study trip which unfortunately could not take place due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Instead, Eileen went on a 5-day virtual overseas study trip to ‘visit’ Taiwan, USA and Romania without travelling, where she dialogued with foreign experts, visited overseas preschools and EC facilities, and exchanged ideas with fellow leaders. The eye-opening experience refined her understanding of good teaching and leadership practices, and further reinforced her belief that leadership development is a constant work in progress. She earnestly reflected that, “having an open heart to receive new knowledge, expand perspectives, gain new skills and enhance existing competencies are important traits as a leader.” Her growth was affirmed by Ms Jenny Wong, “She has demonstrated great commitment and determination through the PDP(L), and we have seen her mature into a confident leader, who leads with clarity and vision.”
Eileen Chay (bottom left) and her group members during the PDP(L) virtual study trip
Having personally gained from the programme which she graduated from about half a year ago, Eileen calls for leaders who would like to pursue professional and leadership development to embark on the PDP(L) for a fulfilling journey of self-discovery and growth!
Nomination for PDP(L) is held once a year and nominations are now open until 12 November 2021. Nominate your leader(s) or be nominated today!
*Some photographs used in this article were taken pre-COVID-19 and before safety measurements were put in place