Seven years ago, Mr Muhammad Hanif Bin Khairuddin started his National Service (NS) as a training clerk at the Island Defence Training Centre, holding the rank of Private.
He extended his full-time NS for another three months and shortly after, bagged a full-time job there. Today, people call him "Sir" in his same unit at Clementi Camp, where he works as an NS Management Executive with Headquarters (HQ) 2 People’s Defence Force (2PDF).
He manages the training progress and advancement of Operationally-Ready National Servicemen (NSmen). "The work here never gets dull… I interact with a lot of people and there are always different challenges when I apply the various HR policies to NSmen from different backgrounds," said Mr Hanif.
"In that aspect, my job also gives me the opportunity to contribute to Singapore’s defence," he added.
One of his proudest moments on the job? As liaison officer to 2 PDF NSmen as they represented their unit at a Presidential Garden Reception – a role he has taken on yearly since 2016.
The 27-year-old is also hoping to contribute in a greater capacity. Starting next month, he will begin a part-time three-year degree course in HR management at the Singapore University of Social Sciences on a partial sponsorship basis.
Mr Hanif was among the 340 DXOs and civilian officers who were promoted for their sterling work in the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF). Permanent Secretary (Defence) Chan Yeng Kit presented the certificates of promotion at a ceremony held at MINDEF on 20 Jun.
Among those who were promoted was Ms June Liew, Deputy Director of Personnel Policy in the Manpower Policy Department. She oversees HR policy including remuneration, sponsorships and performance management.
The 37-year-old started as a HR executive in MINDEF 14 years ago. She spoke on the challenges of transiting to a managerial role: "Other than focusing on project timelines, I had to manage staff expectations, workload and team dynamics."
"It was a huge challenge (to me) but…when we have discussions, we are always open and frank about the work," said Ms Liew.
A particularly busy period for her department was sometime before 2010, when MINDEF rolled out a series of enhanced and new schemes for military personnel. "We had to re-look all the (HR) policies to shape the schemes…when we had to work overtime, we would order food in and eat together as a team amid the hard work and long hours," she recalled.
Fellow promotee Mr Heng Soon Leng has also put in extra effort to engage his team.
Mr Heng, who has served in MINDEF and the Singapore Armed Forces for the past 12 years, recalled his time in HQ Air Force Medical Service when a contractor he was managing was not up to par.
To get around this, he started regular meetings with them. "Through these conversations, I learnt about their processes and we worked to align (those processes) to our organisation’s desired outcomes…and ultimately we formed a win-win partnership," said the 38-year-old.
Such interaction is something that Mr Heng is applying to his current role as Head of Logistics in Navy Medical Services, where he encourages constructive interaction among his staff.
"I want all my colleagues and subordinates to take ownership of their work processes…so I have started regular engagement sessions with my team to gather feedback from the ground and also share with them how they can play a part."