Ministry of Defence Singapore (MINDEF)
Features | National & Home Defence

Answering The
Call Of Duty

The Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) is entrusted with the duty of overseeing Singapore’s defence needs. Defence Merit Scholar Tiffany Tay tells us more about how the Defence Executive Officers (DXOs), the non-uniformed personnel of MINDEF, work alongside their military counterparts to contribute to our nation’s defence.

As Singaporeans, we can all rest easy at night because of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). The SAF protects our country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, ensuring that Singaporeans are able to enjoy peace and stability.

Providing MINDEF with critical support in multiple areas are the DXOs. In their careers, DXOs are challenged with different levels of responsibilities in varied areas, serving a wide range of functions in order to fulfil the needs of the organisation.

One such individual is Tiffany Tay Zhixin, a recipient of the Defence Merit Scholarship (DMS). We spent some time with her finding out more about her journey as a Defence Merit scholar and how she contributes to the defence of our nation as a DXO.

A place for all

Pursuing a career in the defence sector was never part of Tiffany’s plan. However, after learning more about the organisation, she knew that it was something worth pursuing. She explains, “My Junior College had publicised a MINDEF organised scholarship tea session, and that’s where I heard about the Defence Merit Scholarship (DMS). I thought a career in MINDEF sounded intriguing, and matched well with my interest in political science, so I decided to look more into it.”

The flexibility that the DXO career scheme accorded further reaffirmed her decision to join the organisation. “MINDEF is almost like a microcosm of our government. There’s Finance, Legal, Policy, Psychology, HR, Communications, etcetera. They have something for every interest. I like trying lots of things, so this was perfect for me!” Tiffany excitedly shares.

Tiffany Tay Zhixin
Defence Merit Scholar

Designation: Staff Officer, Defence Policy Office

Studied: Master of International Relations,
University of Chicago, US

Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in
Politics with International Studies,
University of Warwick, UK

Opportunities are abundant for the DMS recipients. They can expect their scholarship journeys to be full of memorable experiences. “I remember going through a Scholars' Development Programme where we got to interact with a few Bruneian defence scholars, both in Singapore and in Brunei. I definitely won’t forget crawling through a bat cave full of guano. Definitely a great way to build lasting friendships!” she recalls with a laugh.

Making a difference

Currently working as a Staff Officer in the Defence Policy Office, Tiffany’s responsibilities include formulating policy recommendations and strategic plans. Her department also keeps an eye out for defence-related developments in the international and regional arenas that could affect defence relations.

The passion that she has for her job is evident for all to see. Tiffany says, “The best thing about my job is that there is no typical day of work in my office. There is often something new and exciting every week. Sometimes we travel abroad to attend bilateral and multilateral meetings. We also work very closely with the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) on various operational issues, and it is always interesting to see how policies affect the people on the ground. Some of our work involves various government agencies, and I enjoy working closely with them in order to forward Singapore’s interests. My job is never boring, and that is what keeps me excited going to work every day.”

"I was unsure if this was the right path for me when I first went for the scholarship tea session. And now I’m working in such an interesting, meaningful, and dynamic job, surrounded by so many driven and passionate colleagues. I just can’t imagine wanting to be anywhere else"

With that said, Tiffany admits that her work does come with challenges. She elaborates, “Emergencies do occur and we need to respond to them quickly, which requires a lot of coordination with the SAF and other agencies. However, I am fortunate enough to have great bosses and colleagues who are very nurturing towards the newbies in the office. Everyone is also very passionate about what we do. It feels good to have everyone working towards a common goal. Playing a part in Singapore’s defence is a big responsibility, but it is also a very fulfilling and meaningful career.”

Working towards a brighter future

When asked about what she sees for her future in MINDEF, she says, “I would continue to serve in MINDEF, doing my best to serve my country by playing a role in sustaining the diplomatic relationships we have with other countries. Knowing that the foundations we have built for good defence relationships will last for generations to come is enough for me.”

For aspiring DMS scholars, Tiffany advises that honesty is the way to go. She explains, “I think too many people focus on saying the 'right' thing during interviews. They just say what they think the interviewers want to hear. Instead of doing that, you should be sincere, be passionate, and most of all, be yourself.”

She concludes, “Sometimes you just need to take a leap of faith, and you will end up where you need to be. I was unsure if this was the right path for me when I first went for the scholarship tea session. And now I’m working in such an interesting, meaningful, and dynamic environment, surrounded by so many driven and passionate colleagues. I just can’t imagine wanting to be anywhere else.”