Mechanical engineers in PUB play an important role in navigating the inner workings of our water systems. The NEW Scholarship allows Kevan Kong to turn his passion for water management into a way to give back to the community.
Why did you choose the NEW scholarship?
I was a very active boy growing up and would always spend a lot of time outdoors playing sports. There was once when I forgot to bring my water bottle and I got very thirsty. I started wondering what could happen if our reservoirs were to dry up, and our nation experienced a water shortage. It was then that I began to develop an interest in the water industry. In secondary school, I always looked forward to Geography lessons where I would learn about issues related to water sanitation, and water and land constraints. As a small country, Singapore has limited space to collect rainwater. As such, we invested in technology to produce NEWater and desalination to meet our water demands. When I was considering the different scholarships offered by various companies and government ministries, the NEW Scholarship attracted my interest because PUB manages the water system in Singapore. I believe that PUB will be a good place for me to gain exposure and utilise my knowledge and skills to help ensure Singapore’s water sustainability.
What do you think makes the scholarship stand out from the other scholarships on the market?
The NEW Scholarship offers many opportunities for scholars to be exposed to the different areas within the environmental and water sector. For example, PUB arranges site visits for scholars to its plants, operation centres and Waterhub, to help us better
understand and appreciate Singapore’s water supply and reclamation systems. I also had the chance to be involved in the Singapore International Water Week (SIWW), where I learned about new and cutting-edge technologies used by different countries to improve water quality and supply. In addition, a mentor is assigned to every scholar, which is very helpful because I’d always have a senior from whom I could seek guidance.
What kinds of career and personal development opportunities does your company provide its scholars?
PUB believes in lifelong learning, and so places much emphasis on training and growth development for all its staff. I did my Student Exchange Program at the renowned Indian university, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IITB). It was an unforgettable semester experiencing learning from a very different education system. I also completed a Summer Exchange Program at Universitat Kassel in Germany, which was a once in a lifetime opportunity because I had the chance to stay with a German host family in the countryside. I learned about different cultures and education systems, which enabled me to become a better student when I returned to my home university.
When we start working, PUB encourages officers to continue to gain knowledge and exposure to different areas of water management through on-the-job training, job rotation in the various departments, and participation in overseas study trips and conferences. PUB also offers sponsorships for further studies, so we can continue to learn as we progress in our career.
What gives you the most job satisfaction?
I feel that personal growth gives me the greatest job satisfaction. I believe that everyone is unique and has their own set of strengths and weaknesses. Some people may excel in one area more than others while struggling in some other aspects. When I just started working, I realised that I have to work with colleagues, each of whom has different working styles. I had to learn to be adaptable to changes and multi-task. When I was a student, I could just focus on completing one task at a time. However, my job now requires me to be able to manage several situations at any point of time while working on a project. Initially, it was very challenging to keep up with the pace. With support from my teammates, I learnt that it is important to keep an open mind, be willing to make changes along the way and seek help from others. To me, the greatest challenge is overcoming your own weaknesses. That is the only way for one to continuously improve in order to take on greater responsibilities in the future.
What qualities are essential to have if a student is interested in the scholarship?
It is important to understand the vision of the organization as well as your roles and responsibilities when you want to apply for a scholarship. Your passion and interest in your job is very important. I see the scholarship beyond just a sponsorship with a bond term. Instead, it is an opportunity for personal growth and development and eventually contributes back to our society. It is also important to keep an open mind and have a willingness to learn. These qualities are essential if you are interested in the NEW scholarship.
KONG KAI WENG KEVAN
Singapore Sustainability Scholarship (Previously known as NEW Scholarship)
Attained: Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical Engineering), National University of Singapore
Now: Engineer PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency
From: Singapore Polytechnic