The Housing & Development Board (HDB) has been an indispensable driving force behind Singapore’s swift progress since 1960. Through HDB’s mission of providing affordable homes of quality and value, creating vibrant and sustainable towns, and building active and cohesive communities, over 80% of Singapore residents live in HDB flats, of which, about 90% own their home. HDB has built over one million HDB flats across 23 towns and three estates, with its committed staff paving the way further forward by meeting the rousing challenge of crafting effective policies and leveraging innovation to build a smart nation.
We speak to Senior Estate Manager from HDB’s Car Parks Policy and Planning Section, Jason Tey, on the global experiences gained through the HDB scholarship, how his responsibilities fulfil the HDB’s mission, and the organisation’s use of modern technology to propel the nation forward.
Lifelong Learning with Global Experiences
As we commence the interview, Jason shared that his scholarship has taken him to places he has never thought he could visit. “These experiences broadened my horizons and provided me with invaluable international perspectives,” he quips.
With HDB’s support during his undergraduate studies at the National University of Singapore, he has picked up valuable experiences, insights and mentors from all across the globe. For example, Jason was able to study the urban economics of Stockholm while on-site in Sweden; he has travelled to Cambodia where he explored the importance of minimising environmental degradation; and he had the opportunity to convene with peers from Oxford, Cambridge and Peking University on Japan’s urban management during his Global Summer Programme at Tokyo University.
His summer internship, where he specialised in the research of asset liquidation as part of HDB’s Housing Finance Department, was also deeply rewarding. He recounts how the unique insights he gained through the internship has taught him how to plan policies that would benefit residents the most. In addition, Jason’s period of attachment on the frontline proved eye-opening. “I had the chance to engage directly with residents,” he recalls. “These first-hand ground experiences were exceptionally valuable, as they provided me with a deeper understanding of residents’ needs. I take these considerations into account in my current job function, dealing with upstream policy formulation.”
HDB fosters holistic professional growth in the careful nurturing of its young talents. “There are countless opportunities for us to not only enhance and upgrade our technical hard skills, but also to hone our individual soft skills.” He explains, “HDB places emphasis on personal and professional development as well as on lifelong learning.”
Jason Tey Shou Heng
Senior Estate Manager
Car Parks Policy and Planning Section
Car Parks Department
Housing Management Group
HDB Local Undergraduate Scholar
Bachelor of Social Sciences,
Economics (Specialisation in Applied and Policy Economics)
National University of Singapore
A Heart to Serve
Given that HDB flats are home to the vast majority of Singaporeans, having a hand in crafting HDB policies at the national scale has a large impact on many lives. These policies represent meaningful work as they shape the everyday comforts and security of families across Singapore. Jason is inspired by the true significance of his work, describing it as an “effort to enhance the lives of Singaporeans, and to prepare the city-state for an exciting future.”
In addition to its noble purpose, policymaking also provides a thrilling jolt to the intellectual. Jason recounts how being involved with creating policy at HDB challenges him to be enterprising. “In HDB, we are encouraged to be creative and think entrepreneurially. This is especially important in today’s policymaking context, where we have to constantly think of ways to innovate, and plan for a dynamic future,” he details.
Jason’s job scope involves formulating and reviewing pricing policies for parking, and the provision of car parking spaces. His work involves dealing with the complex nature of policymaking set against the backdrop of today’s rapidly-changing world. He explains how the emotionally and mentally stimulating work with HDB has led to a fulfilling career. “The most rewarding aspect of my work is the opportunity to take on the intellectual and creative challenge of formulating policies that better the lives of Singaporeans,” he affirms.
Shaping Tomorrow’s Smart Nation
Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative emphasises massive strides forward in both technology and community empowerment to help Singaporeans lead more robust lives. Jason gives his assessment, saying “Singapore needs to be at the forefront of innovation and to adapt to the waves of technological changes that are coming our way.” Through his work at HDB, Jason will play a large part in leveraging technology to lead our nation and her people to better lives, increased opportunities and closer bonds. “From ground operations to policy formulation, data analytics is heavily employed in our day-to-day work,” Jason says about the Electronic Parking System (EPS) technology he works with, which allows for quicker assessment of the ground situation and responses to better manage demand and deploy enforcement.
In particular, his role within HDB leaves him poised to make an impact on the vehicle and transportation needs of the community through a variety of smart technologies. “HDB has also collaborated with GovTech and URA to launch the ‘Parking. sg’ app in order to offer greater convenience to motorists,” he highlights. “This is the first of many exciting smart technology plans for car parking of the future within HDB towns to come.”
Strong Career Foundations with HDB
As our conversation comes to a close, Jason leaves some words of advice for future HDB scholars. “It takes one with determination and a passion to serve the masses to really thrive in the line of policymaking. Beyond the passion to serve, the passion to learn and be open to new ideas are also especially important in today’s Public Service. There is a need for scholars to be able to challenge the status quo, and think outside the box, so as to build on and enhance the efficiency of the existing framework. This is the hallmark of any transformative leader.”