Other than taking care of providing water for consumption and public drainage, PUB is also using waterways for the beautification of Singapore’s cityscape, Ong Zhi Siong explains.
Why did you choose this scholarship?
Looking back, this started when I was young. Whenever there was a heavy rain, I was curious as to where the rainwater would flow to, knowing that Singapore lacks the land space to collect rainwater. At that point in time, I had little knowledge about how stormwater was managed in Singapore. With this interest, I decided to pursue a Diploma in Environmental Management and Water Technology course at Singapore Polytechnic and subsequently furthered my studies in Environmental Engineering at the Nanyang Technological University. With all that said, the simple answer to ‘Why PUB?’ is because it is the natural choice for me. I am excited to be part of this organisation that constantly learns, innovates and pushes the boundaries to ensure that we remain relevant and progress towards achieving Singapore’s water sustainability.
What are the most memorable things that happened in your university life?
The decision to stay in a Hall of Residence for my three years of studies brought about so much memories. I believe life is much more than just studying and academic success. Since young, school life has seem like a mundane and routine process for me. Staying in a hall gave me the opportunities to explore many activities and take up different roles which broaden my horizon. The most challenging, yet fulfilling role was, when I took on the position as a chairperson for my hall freshmen orientation camp with a team of 50 people under me. I was involved in a wide scope of work from liaising with different vendors, sourcing for various means of funds, seeking approval from the relevant authorities, planning for contingencies, and most importantly being accountable for everything that happened. The process was difficult with many hurdles, but it allowed me to acquire many soft skills that I could not have learnt in class. Furthermore, I also had the opportunity to represent my hall in different sports, such as badminton, table tennis, squash, touch rugby, and was even the captain of my hall tennis team. Looking back at my three years of university life, I am glad to say I have no regrets now and have lived my undergraduate life to the fullest. Throughout my stay in the hall, I have made many new friends and experienced things that I would not have done.
What do you love about your job and the company?
PUB is far-sighted in its planning and it is definitely rewarding to be in this organisation that strives to ensure Singapore’s water sustainability. It designs for rainwater to be collected through a network of drains, canals and rivers, and channelled to our 17 reservoirs before it is treated for drinking water. It also takes care of a network of underground sewers to collect used water that leads to a water reclamation plant. Under the Active, Beautiful, Clean Waters (ABC Waters) Programme, ordinary utilitarian concrete canals are turned into beautiful waterways that open up new recreational spaces and bring the public closer to water, so that they can better appreciate and take ownership of this precious resource.
Currently I am part of the team that plans and executes the ABC Waters Programme and other initiatives to integrate our waterbodies and waterways into the living environment. Together with other public agencies and private developers, we wish to achieve the vision of blue-green corridors in the urbanised environment of Singapore. Part of this grand vision involves identifying strategic waterways and developing design concepts. While there are challenges working and coordinating with the other agencies in drawing up the overall concept, it is definitely rewarding to work on something that is close to my heart and I am passionate about.
How did PUB help you during your studies?
PUB offers numerous and rewarding learning opportunities for its scholars. During my course of studies, I had the opportunity to visit Pulau Semakau, our only offshore landfill site. This programme has helped me better appreciate and understand, about waste and water treatment processes. I was also very grateful to have a highly supportive and dedicated HR team that took care of us and constantly kept us abreast with the latest news about the water industry. Besides having opportunities to interact with the senior management of PUB, I represented PUB as a young water ambassador at the biennial Singapore International Water Week. This experience allowed me to build a solid foundation and network within the organisation and others in the water industry.
What are your interests? How do you balance it with working life?
I love the outdoors, playing sports and in general, just staying active. Every weekend, I would definitely engage in some form of activities, be it cycling, playing badminton or just taking a walk at the many beautiful parks in Singapore. My favourite route has to be walking from HarbourFront up to Mount Faber, across to Hort Park and finally arriving at Labrador Park. It is a beautiful walk that allows one to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
I think the key to having a balance working life is to protect your private time. It is good to allocate some time over the weekend to partake in activities that you enjoy. A short break from work allows me to rejuvenate, hence feeling more refreshed and efficient when I am back at work.
ONG ZHI SIONG
National Environment & Water (NEW) Scholarship
Attained: Bachelor of Environmental Engineering from NTU
Now: Engineer, Catchment & Waterways Department
From: Singapore Poly