T axes are a necessary part of every nation's economy, funding government expenditure to fuel nation building. As the main tax administrator to the Government, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) collects taxes that account for about 70% of the Government’s Operating Revenue. This supports the country’s economic and social programmes to make Singapore a stronger community, a better environment, and a more vibrant economy – a place that Singaporeans are proud to call home.
As an organisation, IRAS works with a vision of being a leading revenue authority globally, as well as to partner with the community to build the nation. This vision is one that can only be achieved through its people. Recognising this, IRAS is committed to developing the potential of talented individuals through the IRAS Scholarships.
To get a better idea of the IRAS scholarship experience, BrightSparks sat down with Htet Htet Aung, 27, a Senior Infocomm Officer, and Yeo You Liang, 25, an undergraduate who is gearing up to join IRAS officially this August.
Htet Htet Aung
IRAS Merit Undergraduate Scholarship
Senior Infocomm Officer
Bachelor of Science in Information Management for Business
– University College London
Creating Unique Opportunities
Believing that every officer wants to contribute towards achieving the IRAS vision, the organisation provides ample development opportunities for scholars as well as its employees. Sharing some of his experiences so far, You Liang recounts his most recent internship moments.
For three months over his last summer holiday, he was posted to the Tax Policy and Transfer Pricing Division, where he worked on transfer pricing cases – essentially ensuring that when one company transacts with another company, it is at a fair price. It’s a task that can get complicated in cases of cross-border scenarios. The internship experience is one that You Liang recalls fondly. He elaborates, “The culture and the people that were in the department definitely helped me enjoy the work more. They were very willing to teach, very nurturing, and that created an environment for me that allowed me to ask as many questions as I needed.”
The Forefront Of Development
As for Htet Htet, her most exciting experience so far is undoubtedly the opportunity she was given to work on a new project within the Infocomm Division. As a new and inexperienced developer, it would normally have been quite difficult for her to be placed onto a project team that was focused on creating a Proof-of-Concept utilising the latest technologies to create a solution.
Yeo You Liang
IRAS Mid-Term Undergraduate Scholarship
Bachelor of Accountancy & Bachelor of Business (double degree) – Nanyang Technological University
The experience was a challenging one – being thrust into a role utilising latest tech tools that fresh graduates would not typically have heard of in university added to the complexity of the task. The project also utilised the Agile method of project management which required her to complete a set of challenging development tasks within short turnaround so that the project team can respond to issues in a timely manner and reduce chance of large-scale technical failures. “I was placed right out of my comfort zone from the very beginning of my tenure at IRAS. There was a lot of self-learning and independence that I had to master in order to catch up,” she confesses. As intimidating as this might sound, Htet Htet’s excitement at this valuable exposure in a field she truly is passionate about is tangible.
Utilising new technologies is also essential to the organisation’s master plan to remain future-ready. By breaking down the large-scale applications that are currently used by tax officers and taxpayers alike into more lightweight services, IRAS is ensuring that development time for new services is cut down, while also making sure that services that are obsolete can easily be replaced without having to overhaul the entire system. As a computer science student, the prospect is exciting for Htet Htet. “It is extremely interesting to see a government agency like IRAS initiate a plan to adopt this technology on such a large scale. It will allow different development teams to work in parallel and allow IRAS to achieve faster time to market at a lower cost.”
Making An Impact
In pursuing a career with IRAS, one will be given countless development opportunities, just like Htet Htet and You Liang had. The work here will allow scholars to make a meaningful impact for Singapore in partnership with the community, be it directly through policy or frontline work, or through charting IRAS’ direction through key initiatives involving process redesign, experimenting with new digital tools and driving other transformation projects.
When asked what advice he has for aspiring scholars who are interested in this career path, You Liang shares, “Definitely, you want to research more into what IRAS does exactly, and see if the work and the organisation’s purpose is a good fit for you. It’s also important to be well-read for the interviews. Research is very important, especially on the topics of taxation.”
For the Infocomm students, Htet Htet’s advice is to show initiative and be independent in your learning. With new technologies constantly disrupting the development scene, it is important to have the self-discipline to master topics in your own time on a consistent basis.