Developing world-class infrastructure, creating a sustainable living environment and fostering rooted and cohesive communities is just part of what the Ministry of National Development (MND) does to help Singapore remain the vibrant city that it is. To achieve this, the organisation is in constant collaboration with its statutory boards – the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), Building and Construction Authority (BCA), Council for Estate Agencies (CEA), Housing & Development Board (HDB), National Parks Board (NParks), and Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).
It also strives to maintain a pool of talented individuals through a range of developmental opportunities, cross-agency secondments and scholarships. There are seven scholarships for undergraduates; and for existing MND employees, the MND EDGE Postgraduate scholarship to help them further develop their capabilities. Kailing recounts her time at MND, the productive opportunities she has been exposed to, and how the scholarship will benefit her in her future career.
Impacting National Development
Kailing shares that her favourite part about working at MND is how it enabled her to contribute to national development. In her most recent role at the organisation, she worked with URA and a variety of other agencies to develop land use plans for government land projects. Her scope of work included reviewing land use needs and analysing the changing economy and trends, following which, she would develop strategies and provide support for land use issues. It was a role she remembers as interesting and multi-faceted – work that was not desk-bound but rather, full of opportunities for site visits and public engagement.
She recalls that a particularly memorable project she worked on was for the upcoming Jurong Lake District, an area positioned to become the second central business district (CBD) for the nation. “It was exciting to be part of a team shaping the plans for the second CBD. There were opportunities for us to testbed new ideas and to brainstorm on how to improve and do things differently from how the current CBD functions,” Kailing shares.
Goh Kailing (first from the left)
MND EDGE Postgraduate Scholarship
Former Senior Assistant Director,
Strategic Planning Division
Nanyang Fellows Master of Buiness Administration
A Global Perspective
Beyond impacting national development, she also enjoyed how work at MND exposed her to global perspectives. She cites her work experience with Tianjin Eco-city as just one of many projects that gave her international exposure.
The project involved her being posted to Tianjin for two years, where she learned about the planning and urban development in China. There, she gained insights on issues about China’s ageing population, the urban-rural divide and uneven infrastructure development across the country. “It made me very appreciative of what MND does in Singapore to ensure efficient use of land in our district planning and to ensure sufficient affordable housing,” Kailing says.
Her time at MND also saw her participating in the MND EDGE programme, which involved her in dialogue sessions with Singapore’s urban development pioneers. She also went on study visits to Tokyo and Seoul to learn about how these cities have progressed. The sum of these experiences, she says, taught her two major lessons.
The first was to help her better understand Singapore’s urban transformation and the challenges that lie ahead. By working with other countries, Kailing adds, she was able to take a step back to understand how and why Singapore’s policies differed from other cities, as well as to consider the areas that Singapore could improve.
Second, the international experience taught her to be independent, more resourceful and adaptable. By working closely with different stakeholders, including local and central Government officials and private companies, she honed her skills at engaging different stakeholders across different issues, a skill she believes is important for her future career.
She reiterates that with future development, it remains important for organisations like MND to be able to accurately assess the views of various stakeholders – each of whom come with different interests. While it is not possible to satisfy all of them, she emphasises that it is crucial to be able to properly understand different concerns and see things from a big-picture perspective in order to make informed decisions.
Most importantly, Kailing says her time at MND has given her new perspectives about the future, and inspired her to keep upgrading herself to meet the changing landscape. One area she hopes to see change in is how the private sector contributes to Singapore’s development.
She muses, “In Singapore, development is still very much a government-driven process. I have begun to wonder if we could move towards a culture where private organisations take the lead for developments; and whether less is more when it comes to planning policies and guidelines.”
Her desire to answer these questions and to make an impact on the nation played a major part in her returning to school for postgraduate studies. Kailing says, “I hope to be able to develop new skills to better contribute to MND’s work. In five years, I wish to contribute to more aspects of MND’s work, including areas beyond my current portfolio.”
For others considering a career with MND, she advises them to “stay grounded, be humble and keep your mind open to new and different perspectives. There is much to learn for those who are willing.”