Family gatherings for 32-year-old Wong Koon Yin go much as you would expect—with plenty of questions from well-meaning relatives. There is one major difference though; the questions that Koon Yin fields are of a topic that affects every Singaporean, yet one which is never truly understood: our Central Provident Fund (CPF) accounts.
It comes with the territory, when you’re an Assistant Director working at the Central Provident Fund Board (CPFB). Since joining CPFB more than three years ago, Koon Yin has become the de facto go-to person when his friends and family have any questions relating to CPF, particularly when they reach the milestone years of 55 or 65. “To clear any misconceptions that they have, I will usually provide some background information and context to the subject before answering their questions,” Koon Yin explains.
The Assistant Director doesn’t dance around the fact that the CPF system has its fair share of detractors, confessing that one of the toughest challenges he faces in his job is having to convey the benefits of the CPF system to members of the public in a face-to-face setting.
Being in charge of outreach and partnerships, this is a challenge which he often faces. In his current role, Koon Yin oversees a number of member outreach events like the CPFB’s annual retirement planning workshops, as well as thematic talks on retirement and housing. It’s a role that demands for ways to continuously improve communications with his audience. Using post-event surveys, Koon Yin’s team then relooks their approach for subsequent roadshows to “ensure that we not only reach out to more members, but also provide them with the information they are looking for,” he adds.
Wong Koon Yin
(Outreach & Partnerships)
Growing In Excellence
CPFB’s supportive work environment is a major factor in enabling Koon Yin to succeed in his role. Here, officers are exposed to different areas of work which eases the crunch when covering for one another in times of need, and also allowing them to understand the organisation beyond their direct responsibilities. There is also no shortage of growth opportunities here, with relevant courses offered that help build up the skills needed to tackle the work. For Koon Yin, these courses included a slew of public speaking focused programmes, since his work sees him constantly giving talks on the CPF system.
Koon Yin looks forward to continuing the trend and contributing to CPFB with his skills in communications, but his aspirations do not end there. He also relishes the opportunities given to hone his leadership skills, in the hopes of becoming a better leader in the future.
Not all the learning opportunities stem from within the organisation, as Koon Yin shares. He often walks away from working with members and partners with a better understanding of what the community is really looking for, which extends beyond simply CPF policies. Many are interested in understanding how government policies across different agencies affect them as a whole—knowledge that helps him plan a more holistic experience for future member outreach events.
A Fulfilling Endeavour
To Koon Yin, resilience is a key skill for CPF officers. Given the high volume of enquiries that members handle, Koon Yin and his fellow officers are used to being confronted by frustrated members who are less than friendly. During these times, a high level of mental resilience is needed to remain professional and keep assisting these members.
Those wishing to pursue a career with the CPFB will find a wide spectrum of job functions open to them; approaching the work with open-mindedness will help them to excel in different roles.
A career with CPFB presents the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of Singaporeans. With a membership base of 3.9 million CPF members, the work you do here is intimately connected to many Singaporeans, and those who find fulfilment in serving others will enjoy the opportunity. “The CPF system can be quite complex to understand,” Koon Yin says, sharing with us that he gets a sense of fulfilment when he’s able to help them clarify their doubts and assist them in making informed decisions for their retirement.
“Seeing the look on their faces after they have understood the rationale behind our policies gives me a sense of satisfaction – that I have made a difference in their lives,” Koon Yin concludes. His assertion makes one thing clear: this is a career choice that he doesn’t regret, even if it comes with additional questions from concerned relatives each time the extended family meets up.