Stepping into Professor Ivy Ng’s shoes as SingHealth’s next Group CEO is Professor Ng Wai Hoe. Read on to find out more about his love for neurosurgery, reading and hawker food.

In November 2023, Professor Ng Wai Hoe was awarded ‘Most People-Focused CEO’ at the Human Resources Excellence Awards 2023. 

“Healthcare is essentially about our people. Our work is to heal and comfort; the role of a healthcare leader therefore is to care for our people so they can do their best to care for our patients and the community,” he said.

Share with us your journey to become a doctor.

Of all the subjects in school, I enjoyed biology the most, especially articles from Scientific American. I would pull out all the articles on neuroscience as I got very interested in that. At the medical school interview, I was asked what specialty I would like to pursue; I told them I was keen on neuroscience.

As a child, I was always tinkering with my hands. I would dismantle TVs, radios and watches, and try to reassemble them. While doing my medical and surgical postings in medical school, I realised that I enjoyed the surgical ones more. So, becoming a neurosurgeon seemed to be a natural fit for me, as it married my love for tinkering on mechanical things with my interest in neuroscience.

We hear that you’re a voracious reader and keen jogger?

There’s this thing in the rumour mill that I read a lot. I probably read more in the past, and I should read more than what I do currently. My all-time favourite writer is JRR Tolkien — I first read Lord of the Rings when I was 11; I’ve probably read the entire series about three times. I’ve been leaning towards non-fiction these days. For example, John C Maxwell’s Leadershift is about the mind-shifts that people need to make as they assume leadership positions.

I like going for long runs; they give me time to reflect and think while helping me to burn calories for the next big meal!

Any tip or advice for enhancing brain health?

For a long time, it was believed that neurogenesis, where the brain can regenerate and form new brain cells, did not exist beyond childhood. However, studies have shown that regular exercise, particularly aerobic exercise, can promote the formation of new brain cells. So I recommend regular exercise for about 30 minutes per session. What I do not recommend is binge drinking or excessive alcohol intake.

Rapid response from Wai Hoe

Bravest deed?

I don’t think I’ve done anything particularly brave. If anything, it’s my patients who are the brave ones; they inspire me.

Any phobias?

I have a fear of heights. You won’t find me going bungee jumping, or standing on tall or elevated structures with a glass floor where one can look down from a height. Oh, and I am afraid of snakes.

Favourite foods?

I like hawker food. Meepok, nasi lemak, nasi padang — these are some of my favourites. I exercise so that I can enjoy the food I love.

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