Scholarship offerings aside, I was interested in the Navy because it promised an experience that would be different from any other – an opportunity to sail and drive a ship out at sea, visit ports and places that were off the beaten track, and work on meaningful things instead of joining the rat race.
Among the various scholarships being offered, the SAF scholarship stood out for two reasons.
Firstly, the nature of the career was compelling because it was meaningful. While I was interested in business and economics, I was not so sure that I would enjoy a career as a corporate, white-collar executive. On the other hand, an SAF career would allow me to protect my country and my loved ones, while the day-to-day work in the SAF would allow me to lead people, and make a difference in their lives.
Secondly, I was assured by the talent management system in place in the SAF, and I was convinced that a career in the SAF as a scholar would push me to my limits. This scheme wasn’t something that smaller organisations could offer.
I read Systems Science Engineering at University of Pennsylvania and completed both my Bachelor's and Masters degree's there.
I chose engineering because it gave me flexibility in my choice of career – I grew up at a time when it was quite the norm to go for an engineering undergraduate education, because engineering graduates had the flexibility to become professional engineers, or switch over to work in management consultancies and other fields. And among engineering fields, the most flexible was probably Systems Science, which deals with the study of complex systems and how to make them work, and work better.
I have taken on a wide spectrum of shipboard and shore appointments in my 18 years with the Navy.
Some of the shipboard appointments include Executive Officer (or second in command) of a Victory-class missile corvette, Executive Officer of a Formidable-class frigate and most recently, Commanding Officer of RSS Tenacious (Formidable-class frigate).
I also had the opportunity to experience working in the Navy Headquarters. I was previously a staff officer in Naval Plans Department, which was very exciting because I get to plan for the future development of the RSN. I also held the appointment of a branch head in Naval Intelligence Department and deputy head in Naval Operations Department. Currently, I am heading the RSN Strategic Redesign Office where we look at how the navy has to reshape itself to remain relevant in the future.
One of the highlights of any naval career – and certainly for mine – was being in command of RSS Tenacious, where I led a fantastic crew of officers and sailors.
I’ll just highlight one memorable moment during the year that I was in command. My ship was assigned to be the visit ship for the Navy@Vivo event in June 2016. It was a challenging assignment where my crew had to manage a record number of visitors, ensuring the smooth flow and safety of the visitors. Despite the long hours, I was proud that my crew managed the crowd well and kept up the high spirits, greeting every visitor with smiles on their faces. Personally, it was all the more memorable because it was not my own achievement alone, but one that we attained together as a ship.
The scholarship provided me with a head start in my career and widened my opportunities for professional and personal growth. If you enjoy taking on a diverse portfolio of work, the RSN is for you!