Updated: Sep 7, 2018
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth
As a person who has transitioned from the private sector to the public sector, what are some insights that you noticed?
In the public sector, you do not have to worry about going bust the next day. On the other hand, in the private sector, decisions may affect the survival of the company, and the company must be very responsive to the market. Another difference is that there is a need for greater accountability in the public sector, as public funds are used.
I always tell my colleagues that working in large organisations has its advantages. Small organisations do not always have the capacity for training and development. In large organisations, there are also opportunities for job rotation. You can take on a new job without leaving the company, the company will likely invest in your professional development. For instance, if you are identified as someone with high potential, you may receive more leadership opportunities. Smaller organisations offer speed and agility, but not necessarily stability.
As many of us are unfamiliar with the public sector, what are some things a business student can contribute to it?
In the public sector, we often need to interpret data and behaviour. We can use pricing to motivate certain behaviours and there are significant economics and marketing insights involved in policy-making.
For example, Sport Singapore’s motto is to live better through sports. When you are active, you improve your physical and mental well-being. How do we get people to exercise and achieve this goal? Is there a reward system we can implement? One of the things we did was to offer complimentary ActiveSG credits. In business terms, this is equivalent to using marketing and an incentive system to increase membership sign-ups. While we use social media channels such as Facebook and Instagram, we also analyse the reactions of any videos that we push out, so that we can maximise the usage of each publicity dollar.
Do you have any recommendations for current undergraduates in this turbulent and uncertain world?
If you are not sure of what you want in life, perhaps start with what you don’t want. Look at your skills, strengths and weaknesses. Personally, I would rather be a big fish in a small pond than a nobody in a big pond, where there are few opportunities to test yourself and accumulate experience. Find something that is a confluence of your strengths and personality. You should aim to gather sufficient expertise and adding real value to the company you are in.
For full stories/ transcript, check out our publication and come for Connexxion 2018, you might get a chance to meet this alumni.
Spotlight stories is a program that reaches out to alumni at different career stages to hear about their stories and life experiences. Run by the BSA Youth Wing, Spotlight Stories interviews are conducted by NUS Biz Undergrad student ambassadors selected through an interview process every year. Students get to meet alumni at their workplaces to conduct an hour long of in-depth interview and build closer relationships.
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