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MND – Shaping Singapore Today For Tomorrow

The Ministry of National Development (MND) plays a critical role in national ­land-use planning and development. MND EDGE postgraduate scholar Jasmine Neo tells us more about its key responsibilities and the part she plays in helping MND achieve its mission.

The MND works closely with its ­dedicated family of statutory boards – the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA), the Building and Construction Authority (BCA), the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA), the Housing & Development Board (HDB), the National Parks Board (NParks) and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) – to realise its vision of  Singapore as an endearing home and a distinctive global city.

In addition to building up Singapore’s ­physical infrastructure, MND also focuses on nurturing rooted and cohesive communities in a vibrant and sustainable living environment to foster a greater sense of belonging in our ­people.

30-year-old Jasmine is no stranger to MND’s mission, having worked there for six years. After completing her full-time sponsored postgraduate studies, she embarked on a new posting as Senior Planning Officer, Policy and Planning, at the Public Utilities Board (PUB), the National Water Agency.

The MND EDGE Postgraduate ­Scholarship has given Jasmine the opportunity to ­pursue a Nanyang Fellows Master of ­Business ­Administration at NTU, thereby carving a brighter pathway in her career and preparing her for future challenges.

Share with us your thoughts on the MND EDGE Scholarship and how it will benefit your career with MND.

I was very privileged to have been ­offered this scholarship as it allowed me to broaden my knowledge and skills on a wide spectrum of topics ranging from policy analysis to leadership. I believe my expanded skillset would put me on a firmer footing to take on further challenges effectively in the next chapter of my career.

I am definitely proud to be a part of the MND Family, where I get to contribute to its efforts in shaping our living environment and driving sustainable development for ­Singapore. In the near future, I hope to ­contribute in areas beyond my portfolio, perhaps by taking on a supervisory role where I can impart my knowledge to and share my experiences with younger ­colleagues.

Tell us about the knowledge and experience you gained from the MND EDGE Programme and the opportunities you enjoyed.
The MND EDGE (an acronym for ‘Executive Development and Growth Exchange’) Programme is a centralised milestone programme that prepares young officers for future leadership appointments. The programme consists of case-study workshops and provided unique opportunities for participants to interact with statutory boards’ CEOs. It also gave us the chance to attend an overseas learning trip to China, which was indeed the highlight of the ­programme.

While we were there, we learned about the developments in the ­Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City and the Guangzhou Knowledge City, and gained a broader perspective about these projects through meeting with representatives from Singapore-China joint-venture companies and Chinese government ­officials. My biggest ­takeaway was the valuable friendships and ­networks forged with my colleagues from the ­infrastructure and environment cluster of agencies!

Tell us about your current role at PUB.
I am currently seconded to PUB, the National Water Agency. In my current role with the Policy & Planning Department, I work closely with various departments on domestic demand policies.

This is a very new and exciting area for me, as part of my portfolio involves studying how behaviour changes can ­impact ­water consumption. It has been an ­enriching experience thus far, learning and working alongside the professionals at PUB, many with years of experience and expertise. While the work could be challenging at times, I find it meaningful and I’m thankful for the opportunity to contribute to the MEWR Family, as part of my stint here!

Tell us more about your previous role as Senior Assistant Director of Housing (Town Councils) and your earlier stint in the Ministry’s HR Department.
I joined MND as a fresh graduate and started my career in the Ministry’s HR ­Department. This is where I was exposed to a broad spectrum of HR responsibilities such as talent management, ranking and promotion as well as corporate branding.
I was posted to the Housing Division in 2012, in line with the Ministry’s career ­development framework. Together with my teammates, I assisted in reviewing our Town Councils’ functions to better serve our residents living in public housing ­estates ­better. We did this by discussing ways to ­approach these policy reviews, brainstorming ­solutions, solving operational issues and ­organising and participating in ­multi-agency collaborations.

Both stints gave me a better appreciation of the Ministry’s role in developing Singapore. The HR stint allowed me to gain a better grasp of MND’s internal operations and its business challenges, while my stint in the Housing Division taught me how to see issues from different stakeholders’ lens, so that our policies are more robust and can cater sufficiently to each group’s needs.

Despite the challenges of work, there was never a dull day in my job. I find great personal satisfaction in being able to review and improve our policies in order to better serve our citizenry. My mentors and supervisors have also given me good guidance and I am very grateful for the training that they have put me through.

What advice do you have for aspiring MND EDGE Sustainable Development Scholars?
I don’t see myself as a ‘scholar’ simply because I was awarded a scholarship. At the end of the day, it is very much about your performance on the job that will determine how fast you progress and how far you will eventually go.

An aspiring MND EDGE Sustainable Development Scholar should have a keen sense of what is happening on the ground so as to formulate relevant and feasible policies. You also need to be adaptable to changing scenarios – learn to anticipate problems, approach issues sensibly and ­respond to them quickly.

Lastly, it is important to form good ­relationships and build a strong network through each posting. In the Public Service, inter-agency collaborations and discussions are often necessary to move things forward.

Jasmine Neo Wei Ling
MND EDGE Scholarship
Age: 30
Now: Senior Planning Officer,
Policy & Planning Department, PUB (on secondment from MND)
Attained: Bachelor of Business (1st Class Hons) in Banking and Finance and Master of Business ­Administration from NTU
From: Anderson JC