Left: Tim Min Hui (pictured below, leftmost) is a Defence Policy Officer who applies her Bachelor of Social Sciences with Honours (Distinction) in Political Science in a practical context, formulating international defence policy and strategies. She is currently part of the team that covers Oceania and Southeast Asia.
Right: Zhu Yexin is a Data Scientist with MINDEF, conducting data science projects. She has a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Statistics from NUS and is currently studying for a Master of Computing in Computer Science at the same institution.
A career at MINDEF is a career at the forefront of innovation and development, as Tim Min Hui, Defence Policy Officer, and Zhu Yexin, Data Scientist, can attest to. In MINDEF, they have found a place that enables personal development while achieving career fulfilment in service of the nation.
Min Hui's position requires her to keep her finger on the pulse of the political and defence arena, as she proposes timely solutions to dynamic situations in our ever-changing security environment. In the same vein, Yexin employs advanced technologies to research, implement and fine-tune solutions to practical problems.
A Fulfilling Career in Service
At MINDEF, fulfilment and an exciting work environment go hand-in-hand to create a career proposition unlike any other. In Yexin's case, she found both breadth and depth of application in her work as a data scientist.
Her biggest career achievement so far exemplifies this, as she researched and implemented a state-of-the-art technique for a Q&A module of a HR Decision Support System prototype within two weeks. The model extracts answers to natural language questions, helping analysts find the answers they need from policy documents quickly and precisely without having to read all of them.
Yexin persevered through the steep learning curve and thoroughly enjoyed the fruits of her labour at the end: "It is rewarding when you see the effort you put translated into a positive change for our stakeholders or the organisation."
For Min Hui, her pride comes from seeing how her efforts enhanced defence relations and interests with other countries. Currently, she is part of the team that covers Oceania and Southeast Asia, formulating defence relations policies and strategies that best represent Singapore's interests.
The work keeps her engaged, as it is an evolution from her academic background in Political Science. She explained: "In my academic training, I was a third party who analysed countries' actions from a theoretical point of view, based on academic theories and research, as well as open-source information. However, in my work, we have access to real-time information and data points from many other sources, which we use in making assessments and recommendations to advance Singapore's defence interests."
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Working in Defence
Knowing that their decisions make a difference to Singapore's future keeps officers like Min Hui and Yexin on their toes. Min Hui described the work culture as "work hard, play hard", elaborating that many of her colleagues enjoy the adrenaline rush and eventual satisfaction that comes with working through an urgent but difficult issue. This also creates a transparent and collaborative environment where everyone is open to ideas and willing to listen.
Yexin concurred: "There are moments when the pace gets hectic, but work here is fulfilling, not boring."
She credited the organisation with pushing her beyond her comfort zone and encouraging her to learn from mistakes. "They hold the mindset that even if a project fails, it is not considered a real failure if there is something that can be learnt out of it that benefits the organisation."
Thanks to this infrastructure of support, Yexin has built up a wide breadth of data science capabilities from data visualisation, text analytics, image classification, question answering, anomaly detection, survival analysis to providing consultative advice in projects.
Learning in Defence
None of these achievements would have been possible without MINDEF's continuous encouragement in learning and upskilling. "As DXOs, we can apply to positions that we think best suit our individual career aspirations," explained Yexin.
She herself enjoyed the opportunity to attend an overseas data science conference (AAAI), and is currently pursuing a part-time Masters of Computing at NUS under MINDEF's sponsorship.
And that is just the beginning. Min Hui affirmed that the same opportunities await any officer: "Being a large organisation, there is a huge variety of portfolios [in MINDEF], and it is up to you to shape your career journey in the organisation. There are opportunities to attend courses to gain new and relevant skills, in preparation for other potential roles in the future. There are also opportunities to be rotated to other parts of MINDEF for exposure to different portfolios."
Joining the Ranks
Yexin shared that in an organisation as big as MINDEF, there is definitely something for you as long as you have the will and the drive.
"Officers in MINDEF really take pride in their work", as Min Hui concluded: "If you are interested in security and defence issues and have an interest in serving our country, consider joining MINDEF."