Now reading:

Finding a purpose beyond your career

Finding a purpose beyond your career

  • 18 October 2019
  • By Julia Foo
  • 7 mins read

Julia Foo has been with OCBC Bank for 11 years. She now works on consumer risk, system development, support and project management in the Consumer Risk department. Hear about Julia's compassion in this inspiring story.

Julia cares deeply for the people around her. On Sundays, she coaches the choir at church, which she has been doing for the past 20 years. Many of those whom she coached became coaches for the choir years later. That's the sort of impact she has. She also volunteers by carolling annually along Orchard Road.

An example of Julia's compassionate heart is her work with Wesley Wee, a Singaporean author. Wesley was diagnosed with cerebral palsy shortly after birth. He was rejected by his family and made a living selling tissues. He spent 5 years, painstakingly writing his life story, letter by letter, using his toes. Inspired by his story, Julia translated the book from English to Chinese, pro bono. To ensure her work for Wesley did not affect her work at the Bank, she would wake up at 4am each morning for a period of three months to get the translation done.

Julia also goes on mission trips to Thailand to help their communities. She matches orphaned children with adoptive families. She does all these with her entire family to instil the same values in them.

Christmas carolling, OCBC Centre, Dec 2018

Medical mission

Julia shared that one of her most memorable trips was a medical mission trip to a village at the Thai-Myanmar border. A tribe from Myanmar was displaced and became refugees. The biggest problem was the lack of medical attention. As a non-medical trained person, Julia could only check their temperature and blood pressure before sending them to a doctor. Some needed medical treatment for months. Those concerned for the health of themselves or their family members would walk up to four hours through the mountains to seek treatment. They even brought gifts such as plants and roots that they dug up during their four-hour walk to see the volunteers. It was a touching and humbling moment for Julia and the team.

Transforming the community

In 2011 and 2013, Julia and her family headed to Khon Kean, Thailand, for community transformation mission trips at the railway slumps. They volunteered at the Family Centre, teaching children English and life skills. Sadly, most of the children have parents who are in the sex trade in Bangkok or Pattaya and they don't see them much. These life skills give these children a chance at more job options, instead of following in their parents' footsteps.

Julia's family further adopted two of these children, providing funds to put them through school and other necessary expenses. They also continue supporting two volunteers from Singapore who are based there permanently, both financially and through other means. After going on these missions regularly for years, Julia has seen the village transformed to be a better place to live!

Medical mission trip, Thai-Myanmar border, 2013

Julia's impact on her colleagues

When we spoke with Vincent Yap, Head of Consumer Credit Approval, he said, "Julia makes a positive impact on her colleagues with her big heart! The beautiful thing is she doesn't need or want the limelight. She's been involved in all sorts of community and social work activities with the only objective of helping others."

Vincent added, "she doesn't only care about those who are outside Singapore or outside OCBC. It's obvious that she cares for the well-being of her colleagues. She even uses her lunch hours, after-office time and weekends to reach out to others. Through her actions, we have learned the importance of values, being aware of needs around them and doing something about it. Her colleagues are inspired and learn just by observing her!"

The purpose of life and work

Julia is grateful that OCBC supports her 'work' outside work. Julia believes that she has been blessed and in turn, she must be a blessing to others. One of her favourite sayings is something she heard years ago: 'To live simply so that the poor can simply live.'