Jennifer Lee Gek Choo
Hospital administrator and advocate for women, family and the elderly
An advocate for women, family and the elderly, Jennifer Lee was an outstanding student who was awarded the President’s Scholarship in 1971. She graduated with a medical degree in 1976 from the then University of Singapore but, after practising medicine for a few years, realised it was not her calling.
Staying within the healthcare sector, she briefly worked in the private sector in medical equipment sales before returning to the Ministry of Health where she served in a variety of portfolios, such as human resources, public relations, and health legislation. She also during this time obtained a Masters of Business Administration from the National University of Singapore.
Her experience in clinical practice, and exposure to various aspects of policy development and healthcare management at the Health Ministry, stood Jennifer in good stead when she was appointed Chief Operating Officer of Singapore General Hospital to lead the local team in its corporatisation, and then Chief Executive Officer of KK Women's and Children’s Hospital.
Jennifer's leadership of KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital spanned 13 years from 1991 to 2004. She quickly became aware of the pressures mothers and nurses, who are mostly female, face in managing careers and families, and saw the importance of having flexible work arrangements and child-care services to enable their continued and fully productive participation in the workforce.
She became an ardent advocate of work-life balance and of family-friendly services, and put in place work practices that earned the hospital three consecutive Family Friendly Firm Awards. She was founding Chairperson of the Employer Alliance on Work & the Family from 2001 to 2004.
Active in public and community service, Jennifer was a Nominated Member of Parliament from 1999 to 2004. She also served as president of the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations and International Women’s Forum (Singapore). In all these capacities she paid close attention to the issues affecting women, calling for more equal sharing of the responsibilities of home and family between men and women, and much more widespread and substantial work-life effectiveness programmes in the workplace.
Since leaving the helm of KK Hospital, Jennifer has been appointed a senior consultant with the Ministry of Health and chairperson of the Agency for Integrated Care which caters to the long-term health and social needs of the elderly. She has served and continues to serve on the boards of numerous private, public and not-for-profit organisations.
Jennifer was Her World magazine’s “Woman of the Year” in 2000.
"Women shouldn’t try to do everything or belittle whatever contributions they make in whatever field they are in."
"Women tend to be unnecessarily modest. Firstly, in any meeting, project your voice so you appear confident."