Biosafety Level (BSL) 3 and 4 facilities are complicated in its design and operations. Dan Yoong, Managing Director at WORLD BIOHAZTEC, have been a key figure in the Asia and Middle East region to develop certifiable facilities in order to eliminate bio-threats to both workers and the community. As the first Singaporean to be appointed by the Singapore Ministry of Health as the Approved Facility Certifier (Engineer) for such laboratories, Yoong's expertise and knowledge have been instrumental in contributing to better biorisk management in the region. Dan Yoong’s work continues to make a positive impact on the safety and security of biosafety facilities globally. Let’s read the interview snippets below to know more about him.
What motivated you to pursue Bio-Containment Engineering, and what gap did you identify?
I was inspired to enter the Bio-Containment field after the SARS outbreak in Asia, particularly in Singapore, 20 years ago. The Biological Agents and Toxins Act was enacted in 2005, and since then, Singapore has been setting high standards in the area of Biosafety and Biosecurity, which include mandatory annual certification for BSL3 and BSL4 facilities. However, there was a lack of knowledge in designing and operating such facilities, the fledging industry needed a company that could provide specialized and multi-disciplinary consultation. This was the perfect opportunity to combine my passion for entrepreneurship with my aspiration to promote safety and excellence in the industry. I firmly believed this field will continue to expand. Therefore, I took the plunge.
Can you describe your leadership style and the values and principles that guide your leadership? Your reputation is your most valuable asset, & you should maintain the same level of integrity & quality in your work, regardless of where you are working
As a leader, I am a visionary and a coach, empowering team members to make decisions while also taking responsibility for the outcomes of those decisions. Our team’s values and principles include ownership, accountability without blame, and a commitment to excellence. We follow the advice of Florence Nightingale, who attributed her success to never giving or accepting excuses. Ultimately, we strive to create safe environments for our clients to work in, treating their facilities as if they were our own. Excellence does not happen by chance.
What sets World Biohaztec apart from other organizations, and how has its journey of growth been?
We made a deliberate choice to establish ourselves as a professional and specialized company with our inhouse architects, engineers, and biosafety consultants. Today, we have a highly skilled and multidisciplinary team serving a global clientele base. This strategy has established World Biohaztec as one of the most reputable companies in the world in this field of specialty.
Your reputation is your most valuable asset, & you should maintain the same level of integrity & quality in your work, regardless of where you are working
Surviving in the post-SARS era was challenging, and building a team with limited demand was no easy feat. However, we adapted, evolved, and continued to grow while keeping our team focused on our vision. Over the past decade, we have expanded our capabilities beyond designing BSL facilities to include other bio-critical environment facilities. These include animal facilities, advance cell-therapy, isolation wards, to name a few.
We also set up Ted Traum Institute, named after my mentor, to focus on high quality training as a way of giving back. We have trained for WHO, NGOs and many government organizations internationally.
How do you perceive changes in the behavior of the biosciences market, and what is your technology strategy for staying up to date with the latest technologies and tools?
As our client's needs are unique and constantly evolving, we recognize that no two facilities are the same. From research to pre-clinical stages, our expertise is needed to design certifiable facilities that accommodate workflows and processes to mitigate potential hazards. To meet these diverse needs, we must continuously research the latest available technologies, and assess which technologies we can innovate from other industries.
A new trend will be the need for ‘carbon-neutral’ or even ‘net-zero’ BSL3 laboratories. This will change the way we design these single-pass air facilities which utilize huge amounts of energy. I believe this is possible and necessary for sustainability.
What is your perspective on what makes a good team in the Biosciences industry? What kind of mindset and approach is necessary for success?
To be a successful team, the hierarchy should not be a hindrance in addressing any issues. If I propose a foolish idea, the team should feel free to reject it without hesitation. During discussions, there should be no rank distinctions. To be successful, our solutions must withstand rigorous scrutiny, and team members should review the solutions from the client's perspective. We can have disagreements, but after work, we can enjoy each other's company over a drink.
Given your extensive professional experience, what advice would you give to emerging leaders in the industry?
Be prepared to dedicate the time and effort required to succeed. Recognition takes time. Your reputation is your most valuable asset, and you should maintain the same level of integrity and quality in your work, regardless of where you are working. If you are such a person, please connect with me on LinkedIn.
Dan Yoong, Managing Director, World Biohaztec Singapore
First Singaporean appointed by the Singapore Ministry of Health to be the Approved Facility Certifier for BSL laboratories, Dan Yoong has also played the role of Part-time lecturer for the National University of Singapore for Biocontainment Engineering under Safety MSc (Safety, Health, and Environmental Technology) Programme module SH5103 (2021 & 2022), Professional Biorisk Management Course under Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine BRMC304 (2021 & 2022), Technical contributor for SS35001:2021 and Singapore Standard for BSL3 facilities.