One of my earliest childhood memories is that of taking tiny gingerly steps down the spine of a majestic dragon-shaped structure in the playground. It was situated just at the foot of the HDB block where my family used to live. Once in a while, I would tug at my father’s pant legs until he relented and took me to the playground. After we moved to our current HDB flat, the corridors, void decks, stairways and lifts of the blocks in our estate became the next playground for the rest of my childhood years. Many afternoons were spent playing countless rounds of hide-and-seek and ‘block catching’ with my neighbors.
There were many other ways in which the estates where I grew up influenced my life and experiences. For me and many others, the ubiquitous HDB flats provide more than just a roof over our heads. In these flats, family bonds are nurtured and they affect the way we conduct our lives and interact within the community.
Having an appreciation for the role of HDB, I like the idea of having a hand in shaping the habitat where I grew up and where majority of Singaporeans live. True enough, during my internship stint with HDB in my third year of university, I found that HDB is the organisation that offers the best opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others, given the scope and multi-faceted nature of its work. That’s why I took up the HDB Mid-Term Scholarship to complete my Economics degree.
There Is Nothing Mundane About Car Parks
I choose to major in Economics as it offered the tools and perspectives to make sense of the world, from the actions and choices of individuals to the functioning of conglomerate firms and countries on a more macro scale.
It was also out of this innate curiosity that I applied to intern at HDB’s Car Parks Policy and Planning Section during one of the semester breaks. To a young undergraduate who was uninitiated in the area of policy planning and implementation, it was eye-opening to experience the work that goes on behind the simple and often little appreciated HDB car parks.
I was assigned to work on pricing and allocation mechanisms, an area in which I found interest, as I could apply the theories and concepts from my field of study. At the same time, the complexity of the work was a good challenge for me; for example, I learnt that analysing and shaping residents’ choices in parking was a broad exercise that involved taking into consideration relations with stakeholders who could have differing interests, operational feasibility, and the organisation’s standpoint and perspectives. Intrigued by the profound and meticulous processes that are needed to support our society’s basic functions, I decided to apply for the HDB Mid-Term Scholarship.
More Than a Career
I have worked for more than a year in HDB now, and I am glad that my role has allowed me to combine my interest in economic fundamentals with the challenge of addressing complex issues, while making a difference in the community.
As an Estate Manager in the Policy Development Section, my primary job is to conduct public housing policy reviews and research on housing trends, and put up proposals to management for approval. The process requires analysis at both the micro level of individual behaviour, and the macro level of housing market mechanisms and the property framework in Singapore. The principles of behavioural economics are relevant in helping me better understand the potential implications of individual behaviour on a broader scale. There are also added layers of consideration in the light of recent paradigm shifts to remake and restructure public housing policies, and the current social compact between the government and people.
Being a relatively new officer, the continuous and measured support from my colleagues have helped me to integrate into the team and develop my personal working style. Beyond work, there are also many recreational activities planned for staff. The multitude of inter-departmental games, learning workshops, charity bazaars and lifeskills talks provide opportunities for fun and wholesome personal development.
It is often said that one of the draws of joining the public service is having a stable career. But what HDB offers truly goes beyond just a career; it provides a channel through which you can impact the lives of people in a meaningful way. So if you have the heart to make a difference in the lives of others and the drive to challenge yourself, I would encourage you to look towards HDB. Be part of the team that shapes the future of our nation, and join us in building the foundation for our home, community and society through public housing.SAMUEL YEO JIANXING
HDB Mid-Term Scholarship
Now: Estate Manager, Estate Administration & Property Group
Attained: BSocSci (Economics), NUS
From: Hwa Chong Institution