Alexander Lim is crafting a system to streamline processes for caseworkers as a Senior Executive at the Systems and Data Branch of the Planning Division, Social Policy and Services Group. He is a recipient of the Ministry of Social and Family Development Singapore Government Scholarship. Alexander studied Management at London School of Economics and Political Science as well as Strategic Communication at Columbia University.
If you click the “About MSF” link on Ministry of Social and Family Development’s website, it is hard not to notice the words “We are professionals with passion for people”. Indeed, MSF places people as a priority, and they put together policies, community infrastructure, programmes and services to develop Singapore’s “heartware”.
MSF’s people-centric approach to nation-building connected deeply with 27-year-old Alexander Lim. He is currently embarking on an impactful and purposeful career in the organisation as a Senior Executive at the Systems and Data Branch of the Planning Division, Social Policy and Services Group.
Like many teenagers in Singapore, Alexander did the Community Involvement Programme (CIP), which aims to nurture students’ social responsibility through community service. However, he often felt that the sessions were a little too transient for his liking.
“After helping the people, we simply leave. It was very ad-hoc,” he explains. “I wanted to do something that has an impact.”
However, one particular CIP session paved his way to a career in social work.
“I visited a rental flat to deliver snacks and food, and clean the homes. The place where I went was just across the street from where I lived. I never knew that the particular block has rental units. This made me realise that a lot of things are happening right under our noses, but we are so caught up with our own lives that we don’t stop to think and see what’s going on.”
He elaborates: “I know that finance and numbers don’t really resonate with me, but people do. So with that, I shortlisted scholarships in the social sector. What drew me to MSF was that they help a diverse group of people with different needs.”
With that, Alexander accepted the Ministry of Social and Family Development Singapore Government Scholarship.
He went back to MSF when he was an undergraduate to do an internship. Apart from giving him a deeper insight into the organisation, the internship gave him a whole new different perspective to social work. “I saw that there are a lot more things that I can do for my colleagues. If we want to make an impact, we have to start from within,” he enthuses.
Alexander was working on putting together a system that aims to streamline administrative processes. If everything falls into place, the caseworkers will be able to do their work more efficiently, and ultimately, the people will get help in a shorter time. After graduation, Alexander went back to Systems and Data Branch and picked up where he left off.
“A lot of them (the caseworkers) are passionate about their work, but they are bogged down by administrative tasks. The grand vision is to remove the bulk of that.”
After working at MSF for more than a year, Alexander has adapted to the rigours and nuances of his role, and civil service in general. For this, he credits his colleagues and the collaborative culture at MSF.
“What I find to be most valuable, is that I feel supported. My colleagues are there for me, not just professionally, but they supported me with the transition back into life in Singapore and finding my way around the workplace.
“The people in MSF are guided by a sense of purpose and mission. Also, people are just nice. We all work well together.”
Developing into an All-rounder
Alexander is grateful for the chance to manage a project that gives him exposure to the different types of work and clientele within MSF, as well as various sub-sectors in the social sector. He is looking forward to the opportunities for professional development and advancement within the organisation.
“This (working in the Systems and Data Branch) is a good jump-off point for me to focus on something more specific, like policy planning. From a development standpoint, that will be very useful. I have project management and technology skillsets, so moving on to policy seems like the next thing to focus on. It will eventually make me a better-rounded person to serve the social sector.”
He is also hoping to see more young people like him joining the social sector.
“For someone who is considering a scholarship from MSF, you have to understand what your motivations are. It goes back to your sense of purpose, because that will guide you regardless of the work you are doing at MSF.
He concludes: “Someone in our society will benefit from your work, and that’s the most important.”
Did you know?
Alexander Lim is an avid dancer. He was the president of the Dance Club at London School of Economics and Political Science and won awards at dance competitions.