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Ken Chan (BA ’95) lives in Toronto and is a public sector executive with private sector, non-profit and international experience. Prior to joining the Ontario Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries in 2017 as an Assistant Deputy Minister, Ken was Public Affairs Director at Vertex Pharmaceuticals and Vice President of Advocacy, Research and Healthcare at Cystic Fibrosis Canada. He serves on the boards of Alterna Savings, Canada’s sixth largest credit union, and its subsidiary Alterna Bank. Ken spent time in the UK where he was an advisor in the London Mayor’s Office. Earlier in his career, Ken was a constable with the Peel Regional Police.
Q: How have you had to adapt your work life? What has been easy/hard?
A: Transitioning to remote working was a significant adjustment. Our immediate action was setting up an optimal work environment for my husband and I. Given we are both frequently on video conferences and telephone calls, respecting each other’s space is important. As a leader, it is important to be empathetic to your people—stay connected and be supportive because each person adapts to work life differently.
Q: How are you staying active?
A: I reinvested the time saved from commuting to stay active. I started to run longer distances with the help of a virtual coach and have taken up yoga to incorporate mindfulness into my wellness routine. I strive to maintain a healthy diet and minimize my time spent on sedentary behaviour.
Q: Advice for fellow alumni during this time of physical distancing?
A: A positive attitude and a commitment to self-care have enhanced my resilience, focus and outlook on life. If you are in a position where remote working will continue for the foreseeable future, build a structure that gives you that work-life balance. Find a way to stay active based on your own physical abilities. If you are looking for a career change or professional development opportunities, set aside some time to network virtually.
Q: Advice for current SFU students during this time of physical distancing?
A: I am currently a part-time graduate student, so I empathize with what you’re going through. If your classes have shifted online, experiment with ways to engage in discussions. Keep in touch with your professors and classmates. If your extracurricular activities are impacted, connect virtually with the student community or in a way that respects physical distancing.
Q: Anything else you would like to say?
A: Check in on others—call that person who may just need to hear from someone. I have become more connected virtually with my closest friends and family. I try to see what’s ahead as the “better normal” and not the new normal.