Over the years, Sivamani Taigrajan has tried her hand at various jobs and fields, ranging from office work to telemarketing. In 2005, she decided that she wanted a change, and went for a course in security training.
At a time when the economy was sputtering and work opportunities were limited, she worked hard to find a job where she could put her new skills to practise. All this paid off. The operations executive is in her 12th year with security firm Excellent Security and Safety Pte Ltd.
What she enjoys most about her job is how varied her day-to-day assignments are, and the opportunities that she has been afforded, especially when it comes to union work.
The 41-year-old is currently serving a second term as general treasurer of the Union of Security Employees (USE). She joined the union five years ago, and despite her shy disposition, she served as a branch official due to her natural inclination to help others. From there, Sivamani rose through the ranks to her current role.
Despite the unpredictable nature of her work, she has no trouble balancing work and union duties. As a general treasurer, she oversees the union’s budget and funds for events, activities and employee investments. USE has a hardship grant that she helps to manage for members in need, something she is quite proud to be part of. “It’s nice to be able to help our members. Even the smallest of gestures can seem like a big help to the people who need it,” she said with a smile.
Sivamani also sits on the NTUC Women’s Committee, which she joined four years ago.
She said: “Women usually have more responsibilities, so it’s not easy for us to be part of a union sometimes, as the commitment can be high.” However, being part of the committee empowers women and gives them more exposure, and that is a good enough incentive to be involved, she reasoned.
“The exposure is important. We begin to see the way we can improve our own abilities.”
She admitted that taking up a leadership role was no stroll in the park. Union leaders have to put themselves in front of others – something Sivamani was unsure if she could pull off. But with her determination, she succeeded.
“Ultimately,” she said, “you just have to carry on with the responsibility. Whether or not I’m comfortable doesn’t matter, because it’s something I have to do for everyone’s benefit.
THE FUTURE FOR WOMEN
“What I see in the future is for more women to take on an active role in union work and leadership. I think women are naturally patient and understanding, so we can be more involved in helping others as we know how they feel.
“I encourage women to join their unions as you can really gain happiness and contentment from it,” she added.
Story by Nurul Asyikin Yusoff. Photo by Aidan James Loo
Written and photographed by Temasek Polytechnic students from the Diploma in Communications & Media Management as part of their Final Year Project from October 2016 to February 2017.
Tags: UWomensNetwork, LabourMovement, NTUC, Unions, Women Leader, Work-Life