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HDB – Building Homes, Building Singapore

Lock Hong Quan shares seven ­reasons why you should choose an HDB ­Scholarship.

A general piece of advice for potential scholarship applicants is to carefully consider whether your interests and ambitions are a good fit with the organisation that you are applying to. After all, your scholarship organisation is where you will build your career. I have been happy working with Housing and Development Board (HDB) for two years, and I would like to share with you seven reasons why the HDB is the employer and scholarship provider of choice!

#1: You become part of the HDB family the day you sign the scholarship agreement.
Often, we say that HDB is not just a workplace; it is our second home. HDB goes out of its way to welcome new scholars into the HDB family. Before leaving for my overseas studies, I had a glimpse of my future at an HDB sharing session where I not only learnt about HDB and the scholarship, but also had the opportunity to meet my mentor and the top management.  Senior scholars are also on hand to guide the juniors when we meet among ourselves – my set of Economics notes has been used by many generations of younger scholars!

HDB is very supportive of its scholars’ endeavours and will ­arrange for funding and support for relevant summer programmes or field trips. I was ­especially grateful when HDB agreed for me to start work a little later so that I could take part in the French National ­Orienteering Championships.

#2: You have the unique opportunity of combining frontline and policy work.
When I started work with HDB, I was posted to Toa Payoh Branch as an Estate Manager. There was no typical day as a Branch Officer. I could be analysing car park occupancy statistics in the morning, investigating possible illegal subletting of a rental flat in the afternoon, and finishing the day off by providing financial counselling to newlyweds buying their first home.

At HDB, you have the opportunity to propose, plan and personally execute policies that directly benefit the residents you interact with daily. HDB’s Home ­Improvement Programme resolves ­common maintenance problems of ageing flats. After participating in multiple planning exercises to determine the list of improvements to be offered, it was also my job to go door-to-door to share this programme with the benefiting residents. It was exhilarating to see my plans come to fruition!

#3: You are exposed to different ­portfolios.
After a year at the Toa Payoh Branch, I moved over to the Housing Market Analysis Section. My primary job now is to analyse trends in the housing markets and provide timely policy recommendations. Job rotation keeps me excited about my work, and my ground experience at the Branch has proven invaluable for my current portfolio.  The fresh perspective I bring to my section is the importance of the human element in our research, and I rely strongly on ground sentiment and feedback in determining my research focus and methodology. Other scholars have been posted to work in Corporate Communications or the Strategic Futures Office, gaining exposure to different portfolios HDB has to offer.

#4: You are able to apply cutting edge knowledge acquired during your studies.
HDB matches scholars to work areas that enable you to apply what you have learnt. My academic interests lie in the fields of behavioural economics, and I am fortunate to be working in the Housing  Market Analysis Section. I am given projects aligned with the skills I gained during my studies. Our engineering colleagues also engage in advanced research at HDB’s Building & Research Institute and have won awards in environmental engineering and sustainability.

At HDB, your work is only limited by your imagination. HDB actively supports staff-initiated projects to explore new ideas beyond their assigned job areas. Just six months after I joined HDB, I submitted a proposal to build a predictive analytics model for our Branch operations. Rather than brushing aside the ideas of an inexperienced staff, I was provided with funds and the support of two senior IT analysts to complete a prototype model.
#5: HDB highly values your personal well-being.

We work hard and play hard at HDB. Regular inter-departmental sports competitions, movie outings, and healthcare bazaars are included in the long list of recreational activities as a reminder that hard work must be complemented with adequate rest and relaxation. Beyond recreational activities, HDB is constantly looking into new ways to meet the changing needs of our workforce. We are a pioneer in flexible work arrangements, catering to young officers taking care of their aged parents, or couples starting a family. At HDB, staff well-being is a priority.

#6: Enjoy structured career opportunities and mentorship.
Every scholar is assigned a mentor to guide and advise you along your way from undergraduate studies to your career at HDB. Based on your academic interests, your career path is paved with learning and development opportunities. Scholars also have the chance to work on inter-departmental projects to prove and stretch your capabilities.

#7: Your work impacts the nation.

Ultimately, a scholarship programme is not just about the personal benefits to the individual. The key goal of HDB’s scholarship programme is to develop and nurture leadership capabilities, so that we can continue to deliver quality public housing for Singaporeans. As an HDB scholar, your work has nationwide implications. You will be tasked with planning and executing good housing policies to shape our HDB towns into harmonious and lively communities. If this challenge excites you, I look forward to welcoming you into the HDB family in the near future!

Lock Hong Quan
HDB Undergraduate Scholarship
Age: 26
Now: Estate Manager, Housing ­Market Analysis Section, Estate Administration & Property Group (EAPG)
Attained: Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Politics & Economics, ­University of Oxford; Master of Philosophy in Economics, University of Cambridge
From: Raffles Junior College