Our vibrant city-state is truly something to marvel at, with its glistening skyscrapers, green spaces and world-class urban infrastructure that Singaporeans are proud to call home.
Behind all this is MND, the key government ministry responsible for national land-use planning and development. Together with its statutory boards, the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA), the Building and Construction Authority (BCA), the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA), the Housing & Development Board (HDB), the National Parks Board (NParks) and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), the MND Family endeavours to provide the best home for Singaporeans.
For 33-year-old Goh Lay Yen, the MND EDGE Postgraduate Scholarship gave her the opportunity to be involved in policy work to advance the sustainable development of Singapore’s built environment. As a forward-thinking individual who is keenly attuned to the trends of rapid urbanisation and climate change, Lay Yen saw the importance of creating growth models that are environmentally-friendly and sustainable.
Lay Yen was a Deputy Director in MND’s Eco-City Project Office (ECPO) and she is currently pursuing the Nanyang Fellows Master of Business Administration at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), a full-time one-year MBA Programme that is designed for outstanding mid-career executives. She tells us about the opportunities that she has enjoyed at MND, giving undergraduates a preview on what they can look forward to under the MND EDGE Scholarship in Sustainable Development.
Goh Lay Yen
MND EDGE Postgraduate Scholar
Designation: Deputy Director,
Eco-City Project Office
Studying: Nanyang Fellows Master of Business Administration, Nanyang Technological University
Studied: Bachelor of Arts (History),
National University of Singapore
Tell us more about the MND EDGE Postgraduate Scholarship. How will it help with your career?
Goh Lay Yen: Given the trends of rapid urban expansion, climate change and depleting natural resources, sustainable development is the way to go if we want to protect and preserve our home for our future generations. The scholarship enabled me to pursue the Nanyang Fellows MBA Programme at NTU, which I found especially attractive because of its comprehensive and practical curriculum. The varied learning opportunities – both at home and abroad – allowed me to gain privileged insights from leaders in the public and private sectors.
What other opportunities have you enjoyed at MND?
Lay Yen: MND has well-structured training programmes which provide excellent developmental opportunities for its officers. Despite being a mid-career entrant to MND, I was given ample support and numerous opportunities for growth within the organisation. I was also impressed with MND’s Human Resource (HR) department, which plays an active role in staff development by identifying and recommending suitable programmes that align with the needs of individual officers. To add on, MND also provides secondment opportunities to its statutory boards. This effectively gives us a broader perspective that we can bring back to our work at MND.
What do you do as a Deputy Director in the Eco-City Project Office? What are some of your responsibilities?
Lay Yen: I oversee the Singapore Government’s efforts in the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City Project, a bilateral cooperation project between Singapore and China to build an economically vibrant city in Tianjin which is also socially harmonious, environmentally-friendly and resource-efficient.
I review and formulate policies for the Tianjin Eco-City in areas as diverse as urban planning, green building, public housing, social development, economic promotion and water and environmental management. This has allowed me to work with and learn from professionals from different fields and cultures and has greatly enriched my life and experiences.
Share with us some highlights from your career at MND. How have these experiences shaped your view of MND’s work?
Lay Yen: The Tianjin Eco-City Project demonstrates the determination of both the Singapore and China governments to develop solutions to overcome impacts arising from global climate change. It is intended to serve as a model for sustainable development for other cities in China and around the world.
When I first joined ECPO in 2010, the project had just started and the area was still largely undeveloped. When we celebrated its fifth anniversary, the area has since been transformed into a real city populated with residents, filled with homes and other amenities. Watching the Tianjin Eco-City literally come to life was an immensely satisfying experience. I believe I have contributed in my own small way to shaping the history of the Tianjin Eco-City, and perhaps, even to the development of Sino-Singapore relations.
The Tianjin Eco-City Project highlights the growing importance of sustainable development in nation-building, and the MND EDGE Scholarship in Sustainable Development would give undergraduates an opportunity to play a significant role in the sustainable development of Singapore.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Lay Yen: The Sino-Singapore collaboration on the Tianjin Eco-City is multi-faceted and wide-ranging. Hence, it is important that I acquire sufficient technical knowledge in various areas in order to review and formulate the required policies. This is probably one of the most challenging aspects of my job, but it is also one of the most fulfilling as it allows me to broaden and deepen my knowledge in diverse policy domains.
My work with my Chinese counterparts has also enabled me to become close friends with many of them. The process of working through our cultural differences in language, working style and approach towards different issues has trained me to be more open in my thinking and to be more accepting of alternative points of view. This is perhaps the most important skill that I have picked up from my participation in this project.
What advice do you have for those looking to apply for an MND EDGE Scholarship in Sustainable Development?
Lay Yen: Being a scholar provides an education opportunity but does not guarantee faster career progression. One’s progression up the ranks is dependent on factors such as job performance, analytical skills and leadership qualities. However, it is my belief that everyone should pursue their passion, and aspiring scholars who have an interest in sustainable development and the environment should definitely take up the scholarship!