E very year, the National University of Singapore (NUS) Department of Building sees students passionate about project and facilities management enrol into its conducive environment. Through its four-year Bachelor of Science in Project and Facilities Management programme, students are exposed to the norms and unique challenges in the built environment sector, ensuring that they graduate as agile and discerning industry leaders.
Today, we are able to sit down with two programme graduates who attribute their depth of industry knowledge to NUS Department of Building. They recall some of the more memorable experiences during their undergraduate journey, and share how these have helped them fulfil their roles effectively in their respective careers.
Foo Li Lian
Executive, SBS Transit
Bachelor of Science in
Project and Facilities Management
Why did you choose to pursue your degree at the NUS Department of Building?
Foo Li Lian: I came to know about the programme during an open house I went for in Junior College. What really intrigued me about the programme was the prospect of learning about the various management aspects surrounding the built environment. These include quality management, projects management and facilities management. I felt that the programme had a lot of practical value, and would prepare me for a career towards making an impact.
Goh Wee Kiat: My reasons are different from Li Lian’s – I’ve always had a keen interest in Lego and architecture. After reading up about the course online, I learnt that the course would equip me with essential skills such as cost management and risk management skills, in addition to the obvious facility management and construction skills. These essential skills are easily transferable to any career in Singapore.
Looking back, what aspects of the programme have helped you to learn better?
Li Lian: Our professors exposed us to various real-life examples, through which I was better able to understand what I wanted to do. I also particularly liked that each module required us to complete a project. Projects gave us the opportunity to bounce ideas off each other and work together to solve problems. These projects also forced us to think out of the box and be independent learners, because we were not necessarily spoon fed with project information all the time.
Wee Kiat: I agree, projects in general strengthen our ability to be creative and flexible. I also remember one particular lecturer we had, whose lecture slides contained only pictorial content and no text. His teaching style left an impression on me and I appreciated his ability to draw our fullest attention.
Tell us about the internship programmes you have undergone.
Li Lian: I have gone for two internships. My first was with the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), where I was largely involved in their in-house facilities management operations. My second round of internship was in Mapletree’s logistic branch, where my main responsibilities were to liaise with existing and prospective tenants of four of our logistics warehouses.
As an intern, I faced the challenge of being unfamiliar with the company’s work operations. My time at Mapletree was especially challenging, having had to pick things up quickly in a fast-paced environment. At times our mentors were not around for us to tap on, and we had to figure out a way for ourselves. This independence certainly prepared me for the working world.
Goh Wee Kiat
Property Executive, Capitaland singapore
Bachelor of Science in
Project and Facilities Management
What are some challenges you face at work?
Wee Kiat: I’ve actually gone for three internships in total. Having come from Polytechnic, I was required to fulfil an internship back then. I did so with NParks’ HR department, and the experience allowed me to hone my management skills as a young polytechnic student.
My second internship was a self-directed initiative. I decided to look for an internship during my holidays and found an opportunity with Sakae Holdings. It was there that I helped to manage the facility needs of Sakae’s HQ building and its various outlets.
Finally, my third internship was a component of my university curriculum. I was attached to JTC Corporation, where I was guided by project managers and engineers on-site to learn about how they manage projects. My supervisor at JTC was extremely flexible about my work schedule, allowing me the liberty to collect whatever data I needed to shape my final internship presentation.
Tell us about how your experiences have equipped you with skills to fulfil your current roles well.
Li Lian: I’m currently performing a facilities management role as an Executive at SBS Transit. Although my work is related to managing the maintenance systems of MRT stations as opposed to residential or commercial properties, the technical knowledge I’ve gained from NUS gave me a good foundation on which I can grasp new concepts more quickly.
Wee Kiat: I am performing the role of Property Executive at Capitaland Singapore. I would say that the experiences I’ve gained from all three internship programmes have given me an advantage. These experiences nicely complement the theoretical and practical knowledge I’ve acquired from university. I have been adequately trained to manage contracts, vendors and tenants, as well as conduct proper scheduling for projects in my current role.
What advice would you have for prospective Project and Facilities Management students?
Li Lian: Have a good understanding of your strengths and interests. If you prefer the more hands-on way of doing things and yearn for a dynamic career, this course would be meaningful for you.
Wee Kiat: Apart from studying, explore internship opportunities to fully experience what the sector has to offer. These experiences will give you a better understanding of the challenges and draws of the sector, and also help you determine whether or not you truly want a career in this industry.