T o enhance Singapore’s peace and security, everyone needs to play their part. The Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) believes in nurturing individuals who are passionate about defence, including Defence Executive Officers (DXOs) – non-uniformed professionals working alongside their military counterparts.
DXOs bring to the organisation a mix of specialised skills and expertise drawn from various fields and disciplines, supporting the operational needs of MINDEF and contributing to the security of our nation in unique ways. 28-year-old Filbert Lee is one such individual. For him, the desire to contribute to Singapore’s defence and security, wanting to find purpose and meaning in his work, and a positive experience in NS contributed to his decision to pursue a career with MINDEF.
The support and opportunities provided by MINDEF during his scholarship were invaluable. Filbert recounts seniors who were always ready to provide advice and support, while MINDEF organised sessions to engage with their overseas scholars. There were also plenty of opportunities for vacation attachments during school breaks, which allowed scholars to experience work with the organisation first-hand.
Filbert Lee Jian Hong
Defence Merit Scholarship
Manager (Defence Policy Office)
Master of Arts – Harvard University
Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Economics, First Class Honours – University College London
The support does not end after graduation either. MINDEF places a strong emphasis on enabling continuous growth for its staff, and sends DXOs for courses that further both personal and professional development. The organisation also organises dialogues where employees can engage in discussion with academics and business leaders. New DXOs are assigned mentors who will guide their development.
Providing Essential Support
Since starting work full-time, Filbert has experienced different role. His first role was overseeing policies relating to the management and deployment of national servicemen in the National Service Policy Department (NSPD). In his current work at the Defence Policy Office (DPO), his scope has shifted towards looking at multi-lateral defence policies. His appointment sees him as part of the team representing Singapore’s defence interests at multi-lateral platforms such as the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting. “It is an interesting experience working with our ASEAN and Plus countries’ counterparts, looking at things from multiple perspectives while looking for common ground,” Filbert shares.
His work as a DXO gives him both a challenge and an opportunity to make meaningful and purposeful contributions to the defence sector, and even the social sector to some extent. Dispelling any doubts that junior officers can make a difference, Filbert recounts how he got together with other junior colleagues and had the chance to present their recommendations after putting their ideas through some robust discussions.
One of the accomplishments Filbert has under his belt is the success of the recently conducted ADMM-Plus Experts’ Working Group on Maritime Security (EWG-MS). Together with officers from the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN), Filbert and his team ensured the smooth execution of the training exercise, which saw ships from the ADMM-Plus countries such as the US and China coming together.
Asked what keeps him going at work, Filbert says, “My goal has always been to make a positive difference to Singapore and Singaporeans, whether I’m handling individual cases or the larger policy reviews. To me, it’s the reason I do what I do every day.”
His advice to those who wish to pursue a career as a DXO is to bring with them a willingness to learn, take on challenges, and work in teams to come up with creative solutions to complex problems. “Most importantly, you must have a passion to contribute in making a difference to the defence of Singapore and Singaporeans.”