Maintaining the safety and security of our nation’s food supply requires technical knowledge on food safety combined with an understanding of national policies. It is a unique challenge that demands both passion and expertise – a challenge that Tay Geng Yu has boldly risen to.
It is precisely the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority’s (AVA) multidisciplinary, complex work scope that resonated with Geng Yu. Geng Yu took up the AVA Undergraduate Scholarship to pursue a Bachelor of Applied Science in Food Science and Technology.
Today, he is Executive Manager of the Regulatory Programmes Department under the Regulatory Administration Group at AVA, where he is able to combine his love for food with the scientific rigour needed to develop national food safety policies. He shares how his journey with AVA has been a fulfilling one.
Allowing Passions to Unfold
Geng Yu recalls that he was interested in AVA primarily because of his passion for food. He saw the scholarship benefits as two-fold: first, it would enable him to pursue his interests through the study of food science and technology; second, it promised an opportunity to directly apply his technical knowledge to fulfill a greater purpose.
He was also drawn to the scope of AVA’s work and its importance to the nation. “The multidisciplinary and challenging nature of AVA’s work excited me,” he says. He adds, “I felt it would make work interesting and provide continuous opportunities for learning and development across different fields like agriculture, animal health and welfare and plant health.”
He appreciates how supportive AVA has been in allowing him to chase his passions and cites an example of how the scholarship enabled him to attend a summer programme in Costa Rica. This focused on the methods of primary production and processing food commodities, something that he felt was relevant to his course of study. His scholarship also enabled him to gain overseas work experience in Australia, where he completed an industrial attachment at a food manufacturing plant.
Tay Geng Yu
AVA Overseas Undergraduate Scholar
Senior Executive Manager, Horticulture Technology Department, Technology & Industry Development Group
Looking back at his journey, he reflects, “AVA has always been very supportive of my all-rounded development. These experiences helped me gain complementary skills that I use today in my job, and have enabled me to build international networks. Finally, they have provided me with invaluable international perspectives from varying socio-economic groups.”
He adds that besides diverse opportunities, AVA has supported his career by helping him fit into the organisation. He explains that this is because even before joining the organisation full-time, AVA made effort to include him in team activities. “Throughout my course of study, the staff at AVA kept me updated about the latest developments and happenings. They created opportunities for me to meet up with future colleagues through events such as scholarship fairs, which really gave me a sense of belonging,” he explains.
A Rewarding Role
Geng Yu believes these experiences are what helped him to smoothly transit into the organisation upon graduation. Today, his role is to undertake policy and planning work to improve local food safety regulations and maintain a sound farm-to-fork safety system.
This includes evaluating the safety of new food ingredients and additives, and to provide scientific support for the review and formulation of food safety legislation and policies. It also entails engaging food industry stakeholders, and providing training and consultation on the different safety regulations.
“I am thankful that my existing role allows me to apply the skills and knowledge gained through my background in food science and technology. I am even more grateful that AVA has and is continuing to train me to handle the multi-faceted challenges and considerations that come with regulatory decision making,” he says. Ultimately, he shares, “Knowing that my work directly impacts the health and well-being of Singaporeans brings me a sense of satisfaction.”
A Responsibility to Give Back
Geng Yu firmly believes that being awarded a scholarship is a privilege, and one that comes with a responsibility to give back to the society. He advises, “It is important to be bold, flexible and creative when coming up with solutions to problems. Also, scholars should remain humble and spend time on the ground to understand the needs of those they serve.” It is only in this way, he declares, that “Scholars will be able to effect change for the greater good of Singapore.”
He recommends the AVA Undergraduate Scholarship to individuals passionate about safeguarding our local food supply or about the health and safety of Singapore’s plants and animals. “Apply for a scholarship with AVA if you are looking for an exciting, dynamic and rewarding career in those areas,” he concludes. “You will not regret it.”