A s Singapore progressed, the banking and monetary environment has morphed in complexity too. In order to promote monetary stability and establish a regulatory framework for financial institutions, the Monetary Authority of Singapore Act was passed, leading to the formation of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).
As Singapore’s central bank, MAS is responsible for the conduct of monetary policy, ensuring liquidity, prudence and stability in the money market.
It was MAS’ mission and variety of functions that attracted Kenneth Leong to MAS, back when he was considering his career options. “I believed that the depth and breadth of what MAS covers could provide me with the opportunities to develop and grow, especially in the areas of policy formulation, research, investment management, and supervision and development of the financial sector,” Kenneth shares.
Having chosen the MAS Undergraduate Scholarship, Kenneth pursued a Bachelor of Business Administration (Accountancy) at the National University of Singapore (NUS).
Finding Satisfaction in His Work
Fast forward to the present days, Kenneth is now an Associate at MAS. He works with a team to manage a portfolio of foreign banks in Singapore that are active in private banking, corporate banking, and treasury. His supervision work includes monitoring their operations, assessing their risk profiles, and reviewing their governance, risk management processes, and internal control systems. These help the team to identify potential financial risks and contribute to ensuring the financial sector’s soundness and stability. “I derive fulfilment from contributing to MAS’ effort to raise standards in the financial services sector. I also appreciate working with high-calibre colleagues and supervisors in MAS,” Kenneth tells us.
Leong De-An Kenneth
MAS Undergraduate Scholar
There was a ring of positivity when Kenneth tells us about his working experiences with colleagues and superiors. MAS recruits very capable individuals with the ability to work in teams and the dynamism to face challenges. In line with its policies, MAS encourages open communication in a collegial environment that promotes learning and career development. In fact, a lot of emphasis is placed on the latter through mentorship from seniors and supervisors.
Kenneth also tells us that fresh graduates are enrolled in the MAS Diploma in Central Banking to equip them with knowledge of MAS’ key functions. He adds, “Foundation and core modules educate us about how MAS conducts monetary policy and integrated supervision of the financial services sector. I am looking forward to elective modules that will provide us with broad-based knowledge on how MAS oversees payment systems and develops Singapore as an international financial centre.”
The dynamic individual also shares that MAS encourages and facilitates bonding among staff through activities. “As a fresh graduate, I served in the MAS Recreation Club (MASRC) as one of the two general secretaries in the 43rd MASRC committee.” This cohesive committee organises events such as family day and MAS’ annual dinner. In celebrating Singapore’s Golden Jubilee, the committee even put together a carnival combining sports and community service for MAS staff.
Opportunities to Grow
There are huge amounts of data that MAS receives and processes. Having to manage this as a relatively new officer can be challenging. But Kenneth tells us, “Thankfully, MAS has comprehensive internal databases. I am also able to seek advice from peers and supervisors, who have been friendly and willing to help.” This is testament to the fact that in MAS’ welcoming environment, challenges are not resolved alone.
In fact, he had his share of challenges even before starting his career. While at NUS, Kenneth found time to partake in his interests despite his tight academic schedule. One such example was representating NUS at international case competitions and his service as a partner of the NUS Case Consulting Group. Such active involvement in addition to his academic studies helped to develop his analytical skills.
Kenneth also shares about his semester spent in Canada’s University of British Columbia as part of his academic programme, which was supported by MAS. In addition, he was in the pioneering cohort of the NUS Bizad Leadership Development Programme. Through these activities, he cultivated friendships and gained precious real-world insights from engaging with international students, alumni and other professionals. He tells us of his experiences, “I am glad to have made friends with brilliant people both in Singapore and across the globe through these activities, in addition to the friendships developed through my academic modules.”
Encouraging Lifelong Learning
Both MAS and Kenneth see value in growth. The former believes in enriching and developing its staff. In MAS, progressive career development is emphasised, encompassing further studies, attachment to financial institutions, overseas postings, or secondment to supra-national organisations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
While encouraging growth, MAS ensures that work is just part of life, and there should be good work-life balance too. This allows officers to create a balance between professional and personal commitments.
In providing perspectives on being a scholar, Kenneth shares, “The MAS scholarship and experience isn’t just about studying economics and working as economists. Be honest about your desire to serve the public. If this resonates with you, don’t hesitate to apply for the MAS scholarship!”