CPT Katrina was first drawn to the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) by a simple desire to serve the nation. “I was interested in joining the SAF as I thought it would be meaningful to do something for Singapore. I chose to join the Singapore Army as I enjoyed the outfield experiences and the camaraderie with my fellow trainees,” CPT Katrina elaborates.
Enthralling Scholarship Journey
Her scholarship brought her to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she completed a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, and a Master’s Degree in Human Resources and Industrial Relations.
Along with opportunities to pursue her academic passions overseas, she also had the opportunity to serve two Vacation Attachments (VA) with the Guards formation during her vacations. As part of the VA, she attended a bilateral exercise with the Malaysian Armed Forces, as well as a tri-Service exercise which saw a Guards unit executing a battalion coastal hook, supported by elements from the Air Force and Navy.
Since then, she has taken on roles as a platoon commander and company commander with the 35th Battalion Singapore Combat Engineers. At present, she is a Branch Head in the Officers’ Personnel Centre, overseeing the posting and development of senior officers in the SAF.
CPT Katrina Pang Ping Ping
Branch Head, Officers’ Personnel Centre
SAF Merit Scholar
Fires to Forge One’s Mettle
CPT Katrina has always appreciated the variety of learning opportunities available in the SAF. The SAF regularly sends their officers for courses to upgrade their military knowledge. She also had opportunities to participate in the SAF confidence courses and exercises – ways in which the SAF develops its people professionally.
Ultimately, what CPT Katrina credits as having been the most beneficial in her career thus far is having a strong team and good mentors to journey with. This support is something that she has benefitted from consistently throughout her appointments within the SAF, from as early as her VA.
She recounts a time during her VA, her mentor guided her on how to improve her presentation skills and gave her the autonomy to inject some creativity into her project. When she had completed her presentation, he openly acknowledged her effort, and also encouraged the audience to incorporate fresh perspectives into their work.
“This senior commander shaped my mindset towards learning and autonomy, and also role-modelled how to become someone who can create that environment for others,” CPT Katrina recalls. Today, she is motivated to do the same for those she works with by creating a safe environment that encourages learning and improvement, and that facilitates open and constructive communication.
She fondly remembers a time when she held the appointment of company commander, working with a team of junior commanders to bring combat engineers through their vocational courses. During this period when tensions were running high, she saw her team rising to the challenge, honing their skills and going above and beyond to uphold high training standards.
In the Pursuit of Excellence
While she believes there are no specific “personality types” that are better suited for the armed forces than others, CPT Katrina feels that there are characteristics that can help one thrive. The first, she says, is to have a heart for servant leadership – putting others before the self in order to build trust and in turn, strengthen team effectiveness. The second is to have discipline and consistency even in the smallest of tasks. The third, she says, is to have a desire for excellence.
“All these would help us to keep moving forward without getting mired in complacency, and to continue to grow as a respected organisation. If you have a desire to contribute to Singapore’s defence, to be part of a values-driven organisation and to forge lifelong bonds, the SAF is for you. Do not let concerns over physical fitness deter you - we have basic military training for that!”