Singapore Sports Hub staff Carolene Loo (left) and Florence Hu (right). 

(Photos by Singapore Sports Hub)

Singapore Sports Hub employees Carolene Loo and Florence Hu are used to getting curious double-takes from members of the public who visit the facility. But that has not stopped the two women from performing at their best. They share with Here to Play the experiences of working in male-dominated fields, and how they have embraced the challenges of their jobs. 

Carolene Loo was a police officer for a decade before she took on a desk job so that she could spend more time with her young children. When her kids grew older, she decided to return to the security field – an industry she enjoys for its unique challenges and experiences that cannot be found in an office setting. 

Today, Carolene is a manager in Singapore Sports Hub’s security and integrated command and control centre (ICCC) operations team. For the last three-and-a-half years, she has overseen the reporting of incidents that occur within the premises and assisted with the day-to-day running of security operations. 

As a woman in the male-dominated field of security, Carolene has encountered her fair share of stereotyping. But she says the best way to handle such generalisation is to be firm and calm. “Female security officers are not taken seriously at times. Some people tend to dismiss us as weak and easily intimidated,” she says. “But we always stand our ground. Once they see that we know what we are doing and can handle matters well, we will get their cooperation.” 

In fact, being female in her line of work is useful in situations that require physical contact with other women, such as attending to an intoxicated woman. “We also have incidents that occur inside the ladies’ toilet or in a changing area, which our male counterparts cannot be involved in. Even when their support is needed, they have to be accompanied by female staff,” points out Carolene. 

Carolene Loo, who was once a police officer, is now part of Singapore Sports Hub’s security and ICCC operations team.

Throughout her work life, she is heartened to be able to count on the support of her teammates, regardless of gender. “Everyone is treated the same here at Singapore Sports Hub. My male colleagues are easy to talk to, and they do not hold back on what they say or do just because I am female.” 

While security operations work can be taxing, Carolene's husband – who is also a former police officer – and children understand that her job sometimes requires long hours and occasional sacrifices of family time. 

Despite the challenges, Carolene enjoys her job and her workplace: “Singapore Sports Hub is a good place for women to work at. That is why you see a lot of female staff here! There is no bias and everyone works well with each other. There is exceptionally good teamwork and camaraderie among the staff too.”  

To other women who aspire to be a security professional, she has these words of encouragement. “Just go for it! Gender is not an issue, as long as you have the heart for the job. You will be surprised at what you can do.” 

Although more women are going into the infocomm technology (ICT) field, Florence Hu still encounters vendors or customers who expect her to be male. “Some of them are surprised to see me the first time,” she recounts. “More often than not, I deal with it with a good laugh, just to break the ice and to kick off the conversation.” 

The assistant manager with Singapore Sports Hub’s ICT team helps to manage the venue’s information technology (IT) systems, which can range from routine machine operations to complex projects, as well as providing event support. Florence also gathers feedback to identify and plug any technology-related gaps at the Hub.

Florence, who has been with Singapore Sports Hub for three-and-a-half years, reveals that she picked up ICT by chance, as she could not get into the accounting course that she had wanted to pursue. But it was a blessing in disguise. While studying business IT, she fell in love with programming, process and logic. She explains: “Solving and creating logics for IT systems are very interesting to me. Perhaps it’s because I love solving puzzles too!” 

Her first job after university saw her joining a maintenance team, made up of mostly male engineers. The men were able to carry the heavy equipment they worked on, and so were often assigned to perform on-site work. When the opportunity arose, Florence took her initiative and asked to try carrying the equipment, which she was able to do so – showing that even a woman can handle heavy work.  

As an assistant manager with Singapore Sports Hub’s ICT team, Florence Hu helps to manage the venue’s IT systems and provide event support.

Being willing to adapt and problem-solve creatively has enabled Florence to do her job well, despite occasional challenges, such as the time when some members from an overseas vendor team were reluctant to work with her –  presumably because she was a woman. “It is never easy to change a person’s mindset. Even if we could, it would take a long time,” she reflects. “But the work needs to carry on — so for that project, whenever necessary, I would approach and speak to our team lead directly instead.” 

Within Singapore Sports Hub, however, there are no such obstacles. “Singapore Sports Hub is not just a good place to work for women, but for everyone. Everyone is treated equally. As technology tends to be a shared service, I meet different people in different places. Every interaction with my colleagues makes me feel that Singapore Sports Hub would not be great without the effort of every single staff.” 

Florence’s advice to other women who want to build a career in ICT is to be vocal. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and always come in with a positive attitude. There are no stupid questions, and you should take every answer into your knowledge pocket,” she says. 

It’s also important to remember that your colleagues are there to support you. She adds: “Always remember this saying, ‘As individuals, we are small. As a team, we achieve so much more.’ ICT has a lot of teamwork – you are never alone.” 

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