Driven by a desire to do meaningful and engaging work, Melody Seet decided to join the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) as a Defence Executive Officer (DXO) to give back to society. Today, she serves in the Manpower Policy Department where she formulates strategic manpower policies.
Why did you decide to join the Ministry of Defence?
I wanted to do meaningful and engaging work that would allow me to broaden my experience in varied areas, as well as to contribute to society. My belief that the defence and security of Singapore enables our way of life solidified my decision to join MINDEF/SAF.
Tell us more about your current role, day-to-day responsibilities and challenges.
I am currently in the Manpower Policy Department, where we formulate manpower policies across MINDEF and the SAF. My responsibilities involve a wide range of work including but not limited to policy planning, conducting research, data analysis and visualisation
and working with external vendors among others. Being able to try out different types of projects has kept the work engaging for me. I have also been fortunate to be part of teams where everyone supports one another and leans forward to help when someone runs into problems. That also motivates me to give my best for the team.
Lastly, even though the work may be very challenging at times, these experiences help me to grow and develop, and knowing that helps me to persevere through them.
How is the DXO career a rewarding one?
I find my day-to-day work meaningful, and that is the most important to me. I also appreciate that from time to time, the organisation informs us about projects that other departments/ agencies are doing and offers us opportunities to join these projects. Participating in these projects has allowed me to contribute to areas beyond my immediate work scope that I am interested in, and has given me a broader perspective of the work that goes on in the organisation. At a personal level, my work in the organisation has helped me to develop the skills I need to be effective in the workplace, as well as grow in maturity and confidence.
What is the most memorable moment in your career?
I was in charge of a project which involved selecting and hiring external companies to provide a service for MINDEF/SAF. It was important to ensure that the evaluation process was fair, factoring in both price and quality. I was also in charge of on-boarding
these companies within a short time, which was a challenge especially with the impact of COVID-19, but I managed to have them fully up and running within the timeframe required. Overall, it was daunting at the start, but very satisfying to see through and watch how my plans on paper were implemented in the real world.
What have you learnt from your career?
The biggest change I see in myself is that I have become more confident about handling challenges. In my first two years in MINDEF/SAF, there were times when I was assigned tasks that were so large and daunting that I did not even know where to start.
However, having completed a few of them, I have learnt how to break down huge tasks into
manageable pieces, to know how to obtain the resources that I need, and to manage the many facets of a project so that it is ultimately successful.
No amount of training can fully prepare you for that level of the responsibility when you take your first dive as a submarine’s diving officer – in the end, you just have to put your faith in your team and in your training. Nailing my first dive was my proudest, and also the most nerve-racking moment of my career.
What’s your advice to aspiring scholars who wish to embark on a DXO career?
A career in defence may not be intuitive to you at first, but I encourage you to consider it as an option. My time with MINDEF so far has been deeply meaningful, engaging and rewarding, and I hope that you will be able to experience it first-hand for yourself.
MELODY SEET JING
Defence Merit Scholarship, 2014
Manager, Manpower Policy Department