Dr Sheila Maria A. Conejos is the first Filipino faculty in SUSS who received the 2021 Presidential Awards for Filipino Individuals and Organisations Overseas (PAFIOO) in Singapore.
Congratulations to Dr Sheila Maria A. Conejos, SUSS Head of Master of Built Environment and Facilities Management Programmes, for being one of the recipients of the 2021 Presidential Awards for Filipino Individuals and Organisations Overseas (PAFIOO) in Singapore! She was presented the Presidential Pamana ng Pilipino Award 2021 which recognises her dedication in her academic work in SUSS and professional and research contributions in the Asia-Pacific region.
Learn more about her winning the award and her journey as the first Filipino faculty in SUSS, from the interview below:
SUSS: Please share with us what the Presidential Pamana ng Pilipino Award is about.
Dr Conejos (right) visits Philippine Ambassador to Singapore, His Excellency Joseph Del Mar Yap (left).
Dr Conejos: The Presidential Pamana ng Pilipino Award is conferred on Filipino overseas, who, in exemplifying the talent and industry of the Filipino, have brought the country honour and recognition through excellence and distinction in the pursuit of their work or profession. The awardees were thoroughly screened through a four-stage evaluation process, as well.
I am excited to receive a medallion from the Republic of the Philippine’s President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and a Certificate of Recognition from the Commission on Filipinos Overseas!
SUSS: How did SUSS motivate you to win this award?
Dr Conejos: The seed of motivation occurred during my interview meeting with Professor Kai Chong Tsui (who was the SUSS Provost at that time). Out of curiosity, he asked me why I wanted to pursue an academic career when he knew that I have been practising in the industry for more than 15 years through my corporation in the Philippines.
This question led to a personal sharing that pursuing an academic career was my purpose in life. Prior to undertaking a PhD in Australia in my 40s, I was bedridden and could not walk for 11 months due to a freak accident. That was my wake up call to change career direction. With that, Prof Tsui related to me a similar story about a personal friend who had also found his calling in coaching students after an accident. He then told me that I will be the first Filipino faculty in SUSS and advised me to continue my academic and research endeavours as well as collaborations with other universities.
Thus, when my professional organisation in Singapore nominated me for this award, I accepted the nomination since this would help materialise the plan to establish SUSS ties with universities in the Philippines and in the Asia-Pacific region. I also wanted to share to my country, the SUSS core philosophy of 'Head, Heart, Habit' (3H) which is a unique philosophy to impart to all lifelong learners.
SUSS: What is your advice to academics (especially those based overseas) to further excel in their careers?
Dr Conejos: I simply want to continue fulfilling my purpose in life as an academic and practitioner in the built environment, with great passion and hard work as my legacy to my family, countrymen and the next generation!