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I Did Not Let My Illness Stop Me from Pursuing a Job

Despite being diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis, Mr Keith Chua managed to bounce back into the game.

For over 10 years, Mr Keith Chua worked as a team lead in an IT firm based in China. There, his daily task involved overseeing the IT operations  in a factory. 

However, as he suffers from Ankylosing Spondylitis, which causes inflammation of the spinal joints, his declining health soon brought him back to Singapore. It was tough to hold a full time day job because the Nee Soon resident often experiences mobility issues and is left feeling fatigued.

So upon his return, he freelanced for five years, obtaining jobs through his network of contacts. It was also through these connections that he was introduced to Mr Kenneth Ong, co-founder of Bitopia Technology. 

How Career Trial helped land him the job

In the beginning, both men were hesitant about making the commitment. 

“For a technical lead in a SME, we had to be extra careful to ensure our initial assessment of the candidate is accurate,” Mr Ong says, adding that its  because they didn’t have the hiring luxuries of MNCs.

On Mr Chua’s end, he too had his reservations. The distance from MacPherson MRT to the office building was a big concern for him. 

Thankfully, Mr Ong soon chanced upon Workforce Singapore’s Career Trial programme, a pre-employment initiative that allowed employers to assess a candidate’s fit over a short-term period. “When we discovered Career Trial, we thought it was ideal because Keith could try the daily commute and see if it was manageable,” Mr Ong shares. “We also could see if he would fit into the work environment.”

Transitioning back into full-time work 

Knowing that Mr Chua had mobility issues, Mr Ong ensured that special arrangements are made to help the new hire adapt to his surroundings and work commitment. “The arrangement is that he will work two days from home and three days in office,” he reveals. “We played with various combinations such as Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday in office and Thursday, Friday at home.” 

Over the trial period, the two finally settled on a  schedule that is workable. Now, he works in office on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays and tele-commutes on Wednesdays and Thursdays. This arrangement ensure Mr Chua have sufficient ‘face-time’ in office while also having enough rest time in between the work week.

The importance of investing in your staff

Simultaneously, Mr Chua was coached personally by Mr Roy Chew, another co-founder, on the different technology platforms Bitopia uses to ensure a smoother onboarding process. This is because Bitopia strongly believes in the importance of investing in training and development of staff. 

“If you’re prepared to spend time to teach your staff, they do get up to speed very fast. They’re also more imbued with the culture of the company,” says Mr Ong. 

When asked if efforts have paid off, he agrees with a smile. 

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