For International Women’s Day 2023, some of our colleagues share insights about what helps them find purpose and success in their career with Certis. Ha Wai San, Senior Manager, Certis Aviation Security, Singapore shares her views.
Having spent just over a decade in Certis, 36-year-old Ha Wai San has held several jobs across the Certis Group, including managing aviation security operations as well as corporate planning for the Certis group of companies. In her present role, she is supporting the needs of Certis’ aviation sector customers as a Senior Manager with Certis Aviation Security (CAS) in Singapore.
Besides developing unique solutions for specific operational needs in complex locations such as an airport terminal, Wai San is also responsible for resource planning, which is no mean feat given the ever-changing operational environment and ‘live’ factors such as the number of flights operating within a terminal, number of passengers, and regulatory standards.
“Those who want to give their best, will find a way,” quipped Ha Wai San, when asked about her secret to always giving her best at work.
This response offers an insight into her mettle as she carved a career in what is predominantly a male-majority workplace. She added that the company, especially her bosses, have always been supportive of her, with opportunities available for her to try something new, or push herself to grow.
In the face of challenges, Wai San prefers to simply deal with them as they come. At the end of each day, she reflects and thinks of how things could have been better handled, in a bid to improve herself.
“When the going gets really tough, I will think of how New Zealand’s former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had bigger challenges on her hands, juggling her work as a head of state along with her family commitments. She is a reality and an inspiration, showing how it is humanly possible for me to confront my challenges,” she shared.
The colleagues and bosses she’s had over the years may count among her many inspirations, but Arden is someone she has a deep admiration for. Especially so, given her achievements and gumption in making difficult decisions, such as the one to step down to focus on what matters most to her.
Wai San does, however, share that she finds satisfaction in that moment where work gets submitted on time, and in the everyday connections she has with customers and colleagues over coffee and discussions. “Sincerity, that’s what people will really notice in each interaction. And they’ll know whether you’re genuine,” she shared.
Among her most talked about achievements in her decade at Certis, was how she convinced chocolate malt drink brand Milo to send a ‘Milo van’ down for the Certislympics in 2019. But through that, one gets the sense that Wai San prefers to let her work speak for itself. “Milo vans are typically only found at school sports events, and you can’t pay to engage them. My proposal must have checked off the right boxes because even the driver has never sent the van down to a company event,” Wai San shared.
And it shows when compliments pour in about what she brings to the office table.
“Clear and sharp in her thinking, Wai San value-adds tremendously to the planning and development work at CAS. Her experience in operations has also enriched her breadth of knowledge to develop robust, sustainable solutions for CAS, and she consistently delivers a high standard of work which draw compliments from even our most demanding customers,” shared Andy Tan, Vice-President and Head of CAS.
By Wai San’s own admission, she struggles with finding the balance between the demands of family and career. “Time is such a luxury, ever since I had a kid, that even my beautician routinely calls to nag about making my appointments. It is so challenging to squeeze two hours out every month for myself,” she revealed.
But by being efficient and planning her time well, the mother of a two-year-old son eventually makes it all work out by finding pockets of time and windows of opportunity to do things that make her happy.
Embracing Technology, Innovation and Creativity
“Technology, when used right, improves productivity,” shared Wai San, who is focused on seeking out the best possible solutions to make work better and more efficient (both time and resources) for herself, the company, and its customers. Microsoft’s Power BI application is something she has been making use of to organise data into dashboards for clients, as well as an electronic flight operations forms that help in her planning and analysis work. Given the intensity of airport terminal operations, Wai San believes that the efficiency technology brings has to also be complemented by reliability.
Where most of us would be content to dine with an idol, Wai San hopes to have dinner with four.
“I want to be greedy and dine with four women instead - the four Queens of Crime in Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Margery Allingham and Ngaio Marsh. I hope to draw creative inspiration from how they plan a heist where the robbers do get away. As crime fiction writers, I’m very sure they’ll have ideas on how to pull it off,” she joked.
Words of Encouragement
To other women facing challenges in the workplace, or even in life, Wai San has these words of encouragement: "Humans are capable of amazing things. Just as Marie Curie was the first person to receive two Nobel prizes for her respective work in the fields of physics and chemistry, the Williams sister were able to achieve and sustain success in the competitive world of tennis. This shows that it is humanly possible to overcome challenges, if we put our mind to it.”
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