One Can Describe Dr. Jade Kua like the Rolls-Royce Ghost: Holistic and Versatile
Mother, Doctor and Mental Health Practitioner, Dr Jade Kua is adding children’s author and designer to her list of titles, come discover the core values which ignite her calling for greatness
I’m making my 2nd attempt at mastering mandarin. This after 10 years of ministry-mandated education, I’m still only able to order a scant few dishes in Chinese, know enough to exchange pleasantries with my mother-in-law but when it comes to discussing socio-cultural issues with my cab driver, forget it. Compared with Dr. Jade Kua, she’s almost super-human in my eyes.
Rooted in simplicity, every detail of Rolls-Royce Ghost has a timeless elegance and purity. The same can be said about Dr. Jade Kua. Mother, Doctor and Mental Health Practitioner, Kua is adding children’s author and designer to her list of titles. One can never tell, beneath the Diana Prince visage, the multi-hyphenate wonder woman is also President of the Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association (SANA) and Director of the Dispatcher-Assisted First Responder (DARE) programme.
In life as in physics, an object in motion stays in motion. – Dr. Jade Kua
Drivers need not apply: Dr. Jade Kua is as Self Driven like the Rolls-Royce Ghost
Chauffeurs need not apply, the 2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost is the third-generation of the series embodying the brand’s modern ethos of post-opulence. Like the revered automobile, Kua is also self-driven, receiving her associate certified coach certification from the International Coaching Federation in October, all while being on the frontlines of an international pandemic that has been ravaging the globe since February. Having established her life coaching practice Jade Life and Wellness is another example of her never-ending quest to bring betterment and dare I say, holism, to the lives she encounters. LUXUO spoke to Kua in the hopes of understanding what aspirational values can be learned or earned in the pursuit a life exemplary.
In the 80s, it was raised in parliament that there were quotas against women studying medicine because the anecdotal evidence was that they would become mothers and stop practicising medicine. You’re an exception to the contrary but do you feel it holds true?
Coincidentally, I’m actually doing a video for AWARE (women’s advocacy group) for their 35th anniversary to talk exactly about this thing. When I entered medical school, it was still a ratio of 3 boys to a girl. They only lifted it during my houseman (a junior doctor training in a hospital post) year in 2004 and this was largely due to the good work of the Association of Women Doctors. It seems odd today but back in the day, I just thought it was normal and I didn’t think to fight it or question it.
Sometimes society is structured such where it is easier for women to spend more time at home. In fact, even the idea and implementation of paternal leave is very new – the perception of what a woman’s role should be is a multi-variate issue, compounded with the expectations a young woman grows up with as well. It is true in a general sense that more women do stop being doctors than men; my experience working in A&E is that it is emotionally draining, so even if they don’t quit, women end up working as part-time doctors. I discovered they’re happiest when they are encouraged to job-share, they’re comfortable fulfilling their roles as mothers in addition to being doctors. Inversely, the few men who become part-time doctors to manage being their roles as fathers, they’re often judged as being irresponsible.
It’s hard on everybody. I consider myself very blessed to be able to continue doing what I’m doing, plus being able to take on new challenges, like even giving my input into the design of a new hospital’s uniform.
How does one get into the practice of coaching wellness?
I didn’t really need to have a certificate but I’m so ingrained in the Singaporean education system, I enjoy structured learning so I went for a course. I mean, it’s really more to do with my own perception of self.
Coaching requires a lot of active listening, but that’s not actually taught in medical school…
It’s self learned on the job. I will deliberately teach my mentees and my young doctors active listening because it’s not really part of the curriculum, and we do it more in a space like A&E (Accident & Emergency) because anybody can come through. If you don’t listen carefully, you might miss something. My dad was a great active listener and taught me how proper questioning is super important because it reveals a lot of supporting information to make an informed diagnosis. My coaching has enabled me to become a better mentor at work. Though being a doctor is different from mentoring, they’re a lot similar in that you have to arrive at a diagnosis and solution and you have to shepherd the patient towards a recovery process. The process is so important because you don’t ask the right questions, the client will not get an insight.
There’s no learning in a comfort zone.
You manage your time doing so many things, without exhaustion, how do you do it?
I’m quite focused but I might do really quick five minute IG live check in with my community. Certain days I have to be really disciplined but I don’t really keep a strict schedule on an alarm but on occasion i have to stop something and move on to the next thing. One particular day, I had to meet my design collaborator Ying, as well as Adrian (Kua was working with Pang to raise awareness for dementia) and so I had to be polite with each and let them know that I had to leave by a certain time. In life as in physics, an object in motion stays in motion. [laughs]
What would you say is your number 1 productivity tool?
It’s not really the things I’m doing but the things I’m not doing like wasting time on gossip and spending less time worrying about what people think of me. Don’t do things that waste time or energy. Just do what you need to do and the rest will take care of itself. Time can get wasted and energy sapped away when you do things that bring you negativity.
Throughout this shoot, you’ve been on your phone and constantly on the go from agenda to agenda; what drives you?
I’m trying to participate as much as I can in the groups I’ve signed up to be with. I’d like to contribute as much as I can whilst being in a film shoot with you or getting my hair done in a salon, I’ll be quite happy.
Training first responders during a pandemic where skills have to be demonstrated sounds like an impossibility but yet you accomplished it!
We had targets that were promised to the Ministry of Health, Education and because of this pandemic we couldn’t meet them obviously but nevertheless I tried to anyway. We’re training the trainers by the schools. There’s value in the attempt, so we started doing tutorials online and the added motivation of wanting to retain my staff helped. I’m also grateful that just two years ago, I had launched my DARE app and our website was launched just before COVID hit so we had the platforms and delivery tools for training, my team is super active on Facebook as well. If none of these online tools were ready when COVID hit, we would have been sunk.
You can’t change your external circumstances but it’s relatively easy to change yourself, it’s the little steps like setting an alarm and waking up early.
Despite your packed schedules, you still found time for design?
It was a creative itch I just had to scratch. Four years ago, I was fundraising for the Association of Women Doctors so I collaborated with Ying the Label, what could we do for these busy women? So we developed kimono style medical scrubs with pockets and while it didn’t come through for that project, we already had the sketches. We refined it and then we planned to launch it last Valentine’s Day, obviously the pandemic happened, so we launched in online in July. I was surprised how well we did.
I’m going to be launching a children’s line of pyjamas. This came about because I wrote a children’s book. And the way I planned it was that the children’s book was going to come out and then the associated like merchandise was going to come with it. I took inspiration from the book where I’m wearing pyjamas and sort of putting my daughter to sleep.
You’re juggling so many portfolios, which is the most challenging?
The biggest challenge is really your self-perception. It’s questioning whether or not you can do the roles you find yourself with: someone’s wife, mother, stepmother. You can’t change your external circumstances but it’s relatively easy to change yourself, it’s the little steps like setting an alarm and waking up early. I get up early because I really want to be there for my kids. Then once you get acquainted with your goals and how to achieve them, the steps to getting there come naturally. Once something goes from being a chore, to the step that puts you on the path to what you want to accomplish, it stops being a chore. Then, it becomes a process you start to love. No one can do that for you. You have to do it for yourself. There’s no learning in a comfort zone.
What role do you relish the most?
People always joke that I’m like a mother to many, not just to my small children or stepchildren but I guess because I’m a mentor to many young doctors and aspiring women leaders as well and that kind makes me mother to them. Now that I’ve graduated from coaching school, I’ve become involved in mental and emotional wellness, what we really need is more coaches. I want to help people lead their lives and attain their goals.
Define success and what it means to you?
I think success for me is more than just success as a person or a doctor or children’s author. It means that the people around me are thriving, my family, my immediate community, my country, I’m just really mindful about the people who are dear to me.