Left: Lynn Wee works
as a Manager,
Policy, Research &
has a Bachelor
of Arts Honours
under the HPB Local
Right: Ong Yinn Liang, currently working as an Assistant Manager, Physical Activity & Weight Management, has a Bachelor of Social Sciences with Honours (Distinction) in Psychology under the HPB Local Undergraduate Scholarship scheme.
You’ve probably seen the “Eat, Drink, Shop Healthy Challenge” billboards, or heard a speaker or two at your school enthusing about regular exercise. And you probably know these are initiatives by HPB, aimed at getting Singaporeans healthier, happier and living longer.
But HPB is much more than that. HPB also pioneers a wide range of health promotion and disease prevention programmes, partners with merchants as well as health service providers, and works with the community to spread information on healthy living. On the ground, there are health and dental services for school children, school and workplace health programmes, physical activity initiatives; the list goes on.
The work of HPB is wide-encompassing, and impactful. Ong Yinn Liang and Lynn Wee, recipients of the HPB Local Undergraduate Scholarship, tell us about their respective careers with HPB.
Being with HPB, one would assume that you are interested in healthcare and overall well-being. How did the passion come about?
Yinn Liang: I was raised by a sporty dad and a health-conscious mum. So I joined ‘sporty’ CCAs such as dragon boat in my university days, and I also formed a gym group with friends. As you can see, healthy active living has been a big part in my upbringing! As it is clear that health will be an increasingly important priority for Singapore, I wanted to carry this passion and contribute in some small ways to the healthcare landscape of Singapore’s society.
Lynn Wee: Having personally witnessed the health effects of poor lifestyle choices among family and friends, I firmly believe in the importance of preventive health over curative medicine. During my internship at the school outreach department, I noted how HPB’s programmes were far-reaching and focused on easily introducing healthier changes into people’s lives. And as someone who really enjoys eating healthy and exercising, a job in HPB seems like a great fit for me.
Why did you choose to study your respective majors, and how do they relate to your work at HPB?
Yinn Liang: I studied psychology, as I was fascinated by human behaviour, and wanted to find out the factors that shape our thinking and influence our actions. As our work in HPB is to essentially create new healthier habits and lifestyles among Singaporeans, knowledge regarding how people think and feel is essential.
Lynn Wee: Global Studies is a multidisciplinary major that requires us to specialise in an area of interest. Naturally, I chose to specialise in Health and Environment. I chose the major because it allowed me to take modules from different disciplines, for instance, Sociology, Psychology, East Asia studies, and learning about the topics through various lenses gave me a more holistic understanding of the issues that I deal with in my work at HPB.
What ultimately made you take on the HPB scholarship?
Yinn Liang: I felt that my passion in health and fitness was closely aligned to HPB’s mission of empowering individuals to take ownership of their health. Working and learning with my colleagues from HPB gave me first-hand experience in learning how to curate programs and make informed decisions benefiting the health of Singaporeans.
Lynn Wee: I took on an internship with HPB during the free period I had before university, and found myself to have an affinity with the people in the organisation! I was excited to find like-minded individuals, and also by the prospect of working on public health issues in the future.
What is the culture at HPB, and how does it shape you as a person?
Yinn Liang: HPB has a supportive and nurturing environment, with many opportunities to collaborate with colleagues in other departments and with other government agencies. This is an important and necessary approach, as active and healthy living requires the cooperation of many stakeholders and partners. There is also a strong team focus, where I can always approach others for their guidance and advice and tap on their experiences. Despite their hectic schedules and workload, they are always willing to explain matters to me patiently, and also empower and encourage me to ask questions and challenge the norm.
Lynn Wee: Due to the nature of the job, the people at HPB are generally more passionate about health and fitness than the average individual. For example, we organise self-led interest groups to exercise together! Being surrounded by people who are passionate about healthcare and well-being always inspires me to live better, and to do better to create a healthier ecosystem for Singapore.
How do you see HPB evolving in the next five years?
Yinn Liang: With advancing technology becoming an inevitable part of our daily lives, HPB has to continually evolve to derive creative solutions to address the health needs of our citizens. Differences among individuals require unique approaches to address their healthcare needs. Although this will not happen overnight, the next few years will surely set a foundation for this in future.
Lynn Wee: In the next five years, I see HPB moving towards greater precision in delivering our public health messages, programmes, and nudges! This is exciting because that means we can penetrate deeper into sectors that need health intervention.
What advice would you give to students looking to take up scholarships from HPB?
Yinn Liang: Someone once told me that there are opportunities all around, it was just a question of how willing we are to reach out and grab them. It is perfectly normal to have doubts and uncertainties when considering applying or accepting the scholarship. Many of us were once in the same position as you too. Take your time to consider your priorities, your goals and your interests. If you have a passion to make a difference in Singapore’s health promotion programs, take a leap of faith and join us to fulfil that passion!
Lynn Wee: A scholarship is a huge commitment and the truth is, you’re likely to discover new interests and passions during your time in university! Take on the HPB scholarship only if you have a keen interest in the field of public health and have a firm belief in improving the lives of Singaporeans. Also, do take on internship opportunities to assess whether the job scope and culture is the right fit for you.