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Up Close and Personal with our New CEO

MWS CEO Calvin Ngo (fourth from left) with colleagues at the recent Staff Recognition Awards

It’s been about three months since Calvin Ngo joined MWS as our Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Over several meetings, lunches, coffee and even a car ride between meetings, we found out why he came out of retirement to answer a call to serve and give back. Read on to learn more, including how to pronounce his surname.

MWS Staff: Hi Calvin! So, how are you settling in?

Calvin: Well, you can say I’ve been busy! At some level, so many things have happened and so quickly too. On the other hand, there are still many things I have yet to look into.

MWS Staff: Alright, let’s start from the start. Can you tell us a little more about yourself please?

Calvin: Sure. Hello everyone! I’m Calvin and I’m married with one son who’s doing his Master’s degree in Australia. I used to worship at Wesley Methodist Church till I met my wife. After we got married, I joined my wife and moved over to worshipping at St James’ Church. I serve in the worship ministry where I play the electric bass and acoustic guitar. 

A few years ago, God impressed upon me the need to give back. He gave me the Bible verse 2 Corinthians 9:8 – “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 

Since 2018, I have been volunteering with Lakeside Family Services including leading its HR and IT digital transformation, then serving on its Board. In addition, I volunteer with Anglican Preschool Services and sit on the Board of IMPART, a start-up non-profit organisation that works with youths facing adversities.

Together with my wife, we also serve on The Marriage Preparation Course and The Marriage Course where we support couples from our church who are planning to tie the knot, as well as married couples.

I am thankful that God has opened so many doors and given me the opportunities to serve and give back. 

Leading worship at Staff Devotions

MWS Staff: Thanks for sharing that with us. That’s indeed been quite a journey. Volunteering is quite different from working full-time with a social service agency like MWS though. What made you join MWS? 

Calvin: I was what some of you may call a ‘corporate guy’. All my career, I had been working in MNCs and other large corporations. A few years ago, I left my last job in the corporates and joined the furniture retailing business where I’d been an investor. At the end of 2019, I decided to call it a day. That was just before COVID-19 broke out. So I had effectively retired for about 3-4 years. 

In March this year, I received a call from an executive search firm, asking if I would be interested in a job opportunity. What drew my attention was how the role is with a “faith-based organisation”. The interview process was grueling and I didn’t hear back from the recruiter for some time. Then one day, I received the call telling me that I’ve been offered the role of CEO. 

To be really honest, I was afraid when I received the news. I was like, “God, really?”. I prayed and heard God telling me to go on a silent retreat which I did. Four weeks later, I accepted the role. 

Answering this call has been yet another step of faith as I hold on to the verse He had given me, to serve and bless others as I had been so abundantly blessed. 

MWS Staff: What has been the biggest challenge so far, since joining MWS?

Calvin: MWS is a very large organisation with diverse programmes and service models. I am inspired by the passion of the people and the very good work we’re doing. I think we just need to find ways to collaborate more closely yet stay agile, and be prepared to innovate so that we can serve our clients even better. 

Visiting staff from MWS Family Support Programme to learn about their work on the ground

MWS Staff: You announced a new organisation structure which came into effect in September 2023. What are the plans for the new Healthcare Services and Family Services group? What other changes should we be expecting? 

Calvin: Dennis (Group Director, Healthcare Services) and Francis (Group Director, Family Services) are reviewing the strategy of the two groups of services, including how we can better integrate the services and ensure a common care model across Centres that offer the same service. There will be some changes to how we work and how we serve, but it will all be for the better. 

I want to assure all colleagues that each and every one of you are important to MWS. Just because we hold different titles doesn’t mean any one person is more valuable than the other. We play different roles, all of which are necessary in ensuring our beneficiaries, our clients receive the care they need. We just contribute and serve differently. Likewise, I am not more special or smarter than any one else in MWS. As CEO, I simply have more responsibilities. 

In 1 Corinthians 12:14-16, we read “For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body.” 

So I am not here to change MWS nor change our vision or mission. My goal is for us to be One MWS. Support and help each other to do good better. Ultimately, we are all united in one God with one ministry.

During a get-to-know-you session at MWS Girls' Residence

MWS Staff: Thanks for sharing that, Calvin. We are very encouraged by these words and we look forward to hearing more about the plans when these are ready. Shifting gear to something lighter, how do you recharge in the midst of such heavy responsibilities? 

Calvin: I love to exercise and I practise Muay Thai to keep fit. I also enjoy travelling, to see the world and where possible, I will include a bit of downhill skiing too. Most of all, I love spending time with my family and my two dogs, Muffin and Cookie.

MWS Staff: That’s a wonderful segue to talking about food, which is such a huge part of Singapore’s culture. So, what do you enjoy in a good meal?

Calvin: I enjoy my hawker fare and things like black carrot cake, lor mee, beef hor fun and wonton mee are my go-to favourites. I’d have loved to cook more but thankfully, there are enough cooks in my family so I can simply enjoy the fruits of their labour.

MWS Staff: OK, last question and a very important one. Your surname makes it sound like you’re destined for this job, to work in an NGO (Non-Government Organisation). But more seriously, how do we pronounce it? 

Calvin: Haha, yea it’s a common question. It sounds like “Nor” but without the “r”. And you got to add the slightly nasal tone of “Ng” in the beginning. Catch me in person some time and I’ll be happy to give you a demo over a kopi.

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