Recently we had the opportunity to catch up with MAJ Joyce Xie, who is an AH-64D Apache pilot and had just completed her Master’s degree course in Public Administration with the Nanyang Centre for Public Administration (NCPA) in NTU. What’s more, she was also awarded the Gold Award in NCPA’s Director’s List. Let’s find out her story!
Hi Joyce, before we begin the e-interview, could you tell us more about yourself?
Hi everyone, I’m MAJ Joyce Xie Huijuan, callsign ‘Nova’, an AH-64D Apache Pilot by training. Currently I’m serving my staff tour as the Section Head in Exercise Branch in the Strategy and Plans Group (SPG) in Air Operations Department (AOD). My branch develops and drives the RSAF Exercise Workplan, and work with other foreign forces to ensure our participation in high key exercises.
Firstly, congratulations on receiving the Gold Award Director’s List in your course. Could you share with us more about your course and how do you feel receiving the award?
I took up the Master of Public Administration (MPA) with the Nanyang Centre for Public Administration (NCPA) in NTU. The programme provides opportunities for students to examine best practices in public administration in Asia, and aims to enhance our skills in decision making, governance, policy design and implementation. Students would be equipped with the knowledge to develop and implement policies to meet the strategic challenges in their countries, and in turn enhancing our effectiveness as public administrators.
The Gold Award in NCPA’s Director’s List is awarded to the top student in each cohort, and is a recognition of the student’s excellent performance in the MPA programme. I am honoured to receive this accolade, and I’m proud of my achievements.
Is there anyone you would like to show your appreciation to for receiving this award?
I want to thank my thesis supervisor, Prof Chen, who provided his guidance and mentorship, allowing me to appreciate issues from various perspectives and thus argue a convincing piece. Also, special mention to my course mates from the various ministries, who helped to stretch my thinking during assignments, and they turned tough times into fun times for me. Lastly, I would like to thank my colleagues in AOD for giving me the flexibility to manage both my studies and work, allowing me to complete my programme on a high.
Your course and experience sounds very fruitful. Could you share more about it with us?
Indeed, I enjoyed this journey a lot. The transition to the MPA programme was made easier as I had just graduated from the Goh Keng Swee Command and Staff Course (GKSCSC). I chose this particular course as the curriculum offered by the MPA programme piqued my interest. I liked how the programme adopted a hands-on approach where students could learn via role-play, discussions and real-life case studies, allowing us to translate theories into practice. Also, the programme allowed us to interact with current and former government officials to better understand the challenges associated with policy design and implementation.
Completing this course has equipped me with the necessary skills and tools to address complex multi-dimensional issues at work, allowing me to appreciate various perspectives better and ensuring that the recommended solutions are practical and implementable.
Were there any particular moments that stood out as your favourite memory?
During GKSCSC, I was appointed as the moderator for one of the Distinguished Speakers’ Dialogue (DSD), where the Guest-of-Honour was Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment. And coincidentally, one of my professors in NTU also attended the DSD and told me that he enjoyed that session thoroughly. He complimented that the session was very well mananged despite having to switch to an online modality due to COVID-19. I am honored that it had left a positive impression on the audiences and that my hard work in preparing for the DSD had paid off.
How do you cope with the challenges during the course?
One of the challenges I had to deal with was to juggle both studies and work requirements. While I was studying on a full-time basis for the first six months of my course, I had to transit to a part-time study basis for the remainder of the course as I started my staff tour at a new department. Personally, I felt that good planning was important. For example, I frontloaded my modules during my first semester as I knew that I would be able to study on a full-time basis for the first six months. This worked out well as I would have a more manageable schedule in the second semester when I transit back to a work-study arrangement. Also, the flexibility accorded by my bosses allowed me to better manage both my work and study.
Going forward, how will you apply what you have learnt during your courses back to your work?
I hope that with the skills and knowledge gained from GKSCSC and the MPA Programme, it would allow me to be a better staffer and leader to the team. A growth mindset would allow me to view issues from different perspectives, which would aid in better solutions for the team.
Lastly, do you have any parting advice for your peers and juniors who are also thinking of taking up a Master’s Degree?
Just go for it! The learning curve will be steep, but GKSCSC prepared us well to take on this challenge. Enjoy the journey!