Temasek Holdings (Private) Ltd.

04/02/2024 | News release | Distributed by Public on 04/02/2024 04:03

The Doctor Is In

Four years after being drawn into Temasek's COVID-19 efforts, two things remain etched in her mind: the bone-deep exhaustion and an immense sense of satisfaction from having made a difference.

"We were working hours on end, day in, day out. The COVID-19 virus didn't take weekends off, so neither did we," recalls Dr Cheryl Tan, an Assistant Vice President in Temasek's life sciences team. Looking back, she counts those 18 months - her first with the company - among the most meaningful in her life. "Meaningful, but exhausting," she laughs.

A doctor in Australia for six years, Cheryl returned home in April 2020 to join Temasek as an investment associate. "I was looking for a way to have a bigger impact on healthcare, not just one patient at a time," she says. By the time she landed in the city-state, COVID-19 was raging, and Temasek had stepped up to support the country's fight against the deadly virus.

Besides initiatives through its philanthropic entities including Temasek Foundation, Temasek had partnered with government agencies, institutes of higher learning, research bodies and medical companies to research and develop solutions that could prevent virus transmission or enhance treatment. It was also supporting several medical trials.

Cheryl hit the ground running, joining the swabbing teams when COVID-19 ran rampant in Singapore's foreign worker dormitories, "usually in two shifts, one in the morning, and one in the afternoon". The rest of her day was spent evaluating key global developments, helming a clinical trial, and making sense of the results.

She was struck by how Temasek was able to mobilise its network of partners and portfolio companies to design, test and develop desperately needed medical supplies, from nasal swabs to mobile ventilators.

"I realised very quickly that Temasek wasn't your typical investment company, concerned only about numbers. It was making an impact, and because it had a strong global network, its impact was also global," she says.

"That global impact on healthcare, that is what I want to be part of."