As the saying by Solange Nicole goes, "a diamond doesn't start out polished and shining. It once was nothing special, but with enough pressure and time, becomes spectacular."
No one would know this quote better than 2LT Randell Chan Yi Long. Losing his opportunity to enter the Officer Cadet School (OCS) due to a temporary medical condition, 2LT Randell's passion to sign on never wavered. He was assigned as an Administrative Support Assistant (ASA) after enlistment due to his medical condition. After his medical status was over, 2LT Randell managed to proceed to the Specialist Cadet School (SCS) as a Specialist and eventually to OCS where he commissioned on 15 Dec.
Accomplishing such achievements, while married with one daughter, is not an easy feat. Inspired by his story, we spoke to 2LT Randell and understood more about his journey.
When you first enlisted, you were an ASA. Can you share with us why and what motivated you to sign on?
When I first enlisted, I worked really hard to push through Basic Military Training because I wanted to make sure that the time I spent away from my family is worth it. I was also curious how far I could go in the Army, especially when I achieved a commendation in BMT. I was posted as a pilot trainee after that, however it was detected that I had a medical condition and could not enter OCS as I intended. It took me some time to recover from that. However, I decided to pick myself up and continue striving to be the best person for my family. And this reignited my passion for signing on.
We heard you tried to sign on three times before you were accepted. What were some of the challenges you faced during your application and how did you find the perseverance to keep trying?
I first failed to sign on, and received a long medical status. After my medical status ended, I tried to sign on as an officer again but it failed as they had to review my medical condition. After my medical status was cleared, there wasn’t sufficient time for me to enter OCS.
Despite failing to sign on many times, one of the values I learned through my experience is mental fortitude. I believe that when a person hits rock bottom, the only way to go is up. I took every failure in my stride and saw it as a learning opportunity to better myself. I was also motivated to sign on so that I can secure the future of my daughter, be it emotionally, financially or opportunity-wise. I will never allow myself to deprive her of anything any parent can or should readily provide for their child.
Fast forward to when you were in SCS, what was something you have learnt that has helped you get through OCS?
SCS polished my Command and Control skills. In outfield settings, I was able to have a clear grasp of what needs to be done and how to go about achieving our mission, without compromising the needs of those around me. My course mates came from varying backgrounds. After talking to most on a personal basis, the experience opened my eyes to the different thoughts, feelings and struggles they are facing. My SCS journey made me more empathetic towards my course mates, and that’s a valuable lesson I'd never forget in my Army career.
Compared to your peers, you have served for a longer time and have had more experience than them. You were a man, then became a sergeant and now you are a commissioned officer. How do you think these experiences have helped shape you as a leader?
There was always something to learn at every step. As an ASA, I gained organisational and multi-tasking skills that enabled me to plan clear and concise methods to execute whatever task that was given to me. I even learnt how to better communicate with my fellow peers and commanders. Moreover, having outfield experiences in leading my course mates to accomplish our mission further polished my collective thinking despite the physically and emotionally harsh environment.
Overall, through blood, sweat and tears, knowing the expectations and challenges within the chain of command has allowed me to not only lead with determination, but also with empathy as well, a value I hold very close to me.
Lastly, your family definitely played a big part towards the success of your journey so far, how have they supported you? Any words of gratitude you would like to say to them?
Despite the tiring training, my family is always warm and welcoming, and will always make the extra effort to include me in family activities. It shows their genuine care and concern for me.
Now that I have the chance, I would like to dedicate my military achievements to my parents. These achievements are my gift to you for believing in me when no one else did, for listening to me and understanding me.
2LT Randell Chan with his family.
Having been through plenty, 2LT Randell Chan still remembers his motivation and we believe he will continue to sharpen his skills and capabilities as a commissioned officer of the SAF, overcoming any obstacles and challenges that may await him.
Written by: PTE Gershwin Lim
Photography by: LCP Cyril Tang
"Continuous innovation is the only way to stay relevant." To further enhance Our Army's efficiency and productivity in this ever-evolving digital landscape, it is imperative for us to continue harnessing new technologies. With this mentality, the Army Mobile App Team from Headquarters (HQ) Signals and Command Systems took part in a two-week attachment with the Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech), an organisation that plays a vital role in making Singapore's Smart Nation vision a reality.
During the attachment, the Army Mobile App Team had the privilege of visiting GovTech to understand more about the methodologies of software development, design research and engineering. The team also experienced first-hand, how GovTech conducts design research and learnt how the organisation manages their teams and projects.
Mr Samuel Loh from GovTech sharing with the Army Mobile App Team on how they conduct design research and manage their teams and projects.
Mr Samuel Loh, software engineer from GovTech, is optimistic about the use of technology to enhance operations within Our Army. "Just as GovTech seeks to build technology to improve Singapore citizens' engagement with their government and various agency functions, the Army can use technology, for example, to build applications that improve the experience of our NSmen and Regulars. I'm sure, with freedom to innovate, commanders and troops will have the tools to simplify tedious tasks and focus on more pressing matters." shared by Mr Samuel.
Curious to learn more about the Army Mobile App Team which develops apps for Our Army, we spoke to LTA Pang Shi Hui Rachel, LCP Ong Li Han and LCP Tay Jonathan from the team about their journey so far, and how they plan to utilise the knowledge gained during the attachment to enhance Our Army’s operations.
How do you think this attachment will help Our Army in developing digital capabilities?
LTA Rachel: During the attachment, we were exposed to different tools, technologies and techniques which helped us to better undertake and deliver higher quality digital products. We hope to eventually implement the methodologies that we learnt here, as well as some of the project management tools, research and product testing methods that our facilitator introduced to us. At the same time, the experience here shed light on many areas and processes that we need to tighten during the various stages of our product development.
LCP Jonathan: I think this attachment really helped our team to gain insights into certain business processes and tools, thereby facilitating our own software development to better serve stakeholders and end users. Our team hopes to learn how to contextualise the business processes employed in GovTech to Our Army.
LCP Li Han: We were introduced to the Agile Project Management, a framework used by GovTech to foster innovation and improve efficiency. The GovTech engineers also shared with us how we can adopt the use of Agile Project Management in Our Army.
How did your team get the inspiration to create apps to enhance productivity and efficiency?
LTA Rachel: A large part of it is by putting ourselves in the shoes of fellow soldiers, and from there brainstorm and identify pain points that we usually face. We then pool our ideas, run these ideas through with others outside of the team and take their feedback into account. When we head down to each formation and division, we also take the chance to promote adoption of the new apps and encourage ground-up initiatives.
LCP Li Han: Units sometimes approach us with ideas that they have, we will then assess the potential of the idea and come up with ways to develop it further. If possible, we hope to develop apps that can be proliferated across different formations and services.
How do you feel, being part of the team that develops digital capabilities for Our Army? What have you learnt from this experience personally?
LTA Rachel: The experience here was nerve-racking yet exhilarating. As we progressed further into the project, the more it opened up our world to other possibilities and challenges that we aim to overcome together. I find it a privilege that we are pioneers of the digital wave sweeping the SAF, paving the way for the future and developing more exciting products.
LCP Li Han: I'm proud to be able to fulfill my duty to Singapore, and I feel especially privileged to be able to do so by being part of this team, as I am quite passionate about technology. Personally, I learnt a lot from this experience, and it was an eye-opener how organisations are changing their traditional workflows to create a conducive environment that fosters creativity and innovation.
LCP Jonathan: I feel quite fortunate to be part of the whole Army's move towards digital innovation. Personally, I've gained a lot of knowledge in various aspects, such as technical skills in coding and software development, as well as design and even communication skills in trying to manage both users and stakeholders' expectations.
This endeavour is only a small piece of Our Army's move towards digital innovation. With insights that the team has gained from the attachment, we are confident that Our Army will be able to deliver higher quality digital products, thereby enhancing efficiency and streamlining processes.
Written by: LCP Gordon Goh
Photography by: PTE Felix Lai
Last Updated on 09 Oct 2018