F or 26-year-old Daniel Soh, a career in defence which would allow him to contribute in various ways was always on his mind. Upon enlistment into National Service, he found out about the Defence Merit Scholarship, and discovered how a career as a Defence Executive Officer (DXO) would fulfil his aspirations.
The Defence Merit Scholarship is a prestigious scholarship offered by MINDEF, where recipients can pursue a world-class education at some of the world’s most eminent universities. Upon graduation, they will return to MINDEF/SAF to pursue a challenging and rewarding career as a Defence Executive Officer (DXO).
Daniel Soh Zhan Feng
Defence Merit Scholar)
Daniel did both his undergraduate and Master’s degrees in Psychology at University College London, UK. In between both degrees, he had the opportunity to undertake an internship at the MINDEF Defence Psychology Department. “During my internship, I was given the opportunity to be involved in the Committee to Strengthen National Service (CSNS) efforts which exposed me to the breadth of operations by MINDEF/SAF. This experience taught me the importance of systematic planning in projects,” Daniel tells us.
Today, Daniel is applying his knowledge and skills to his work as a Defence Psychologist. His portfolio comprises conducting assessments and face-to-face interviews, and analysing reports to advise commanders and support their leadership.
He tells us, “The most common misconception people have of organisational psychologists is that we are clinical psychologists or counsellors. As Defence Psychologists, we study different aspects of human behavior at work and provide myriad psychological solutions to facilitate people performance. Our specialisation has been gradually growing – psychology was one of the first few departments created in MINDEF and look at how the deparment has advanced today! Over the years, we have expanded and refined our capabilities so as to remain at the cutting edge to support MINDEF/SAF’s requirements.”
Growing with the Scholarship
According to Daniel, Defence Merit Scholars are given opportunities to be exposed to a range of job functions beyond their field of study. For instance, there are economics graduates working in manpower policy, lawyers working in international relations, and psychologists in finance. This broad exposure ensures that scholars are able to build their capabilities on diversified portfolios, and they are not shoe-boxed into one fixed role.
For Daniel, he was given exposure to developmental opportunities even beyond the organisation. Having only been with MINDEF for a year, he has already gone on his first overseas work trip to a conference in San Diego, US. “It was a chance for me to interact with delegates and presenters from different countries, and learn about their latest research,” Daniel shares.
To those exploring their scholarship options, Daniel advises, “It is most important to be honest. A scholarship should not be seen as only a means to study overseas, it is a commitment to an organisation. You have to be clear about who you are and what you want in life, and be honest to yourself and the organisation, to ensure that the job fit is right. Keep your strengths and interests in mind as you chase after your goals.”