Isaac Yee is a Senior Manager, devising youth-related programmes as part of the Youth Engagements and Insights team of the School Health Outreach Division. He is a recipient of the HPB Undergraduate Scholarship and holds a Bachelor of Social Sciences (Honours) with a Major in Psychology from NUS.
As its name would suggest, the Health Promotion Board (HPB) promotes healthy living in Singapore. Some of its more popular initiatives include the National Steps Challenge™ , where people get tangible rewards for making the effort to keep themselves active as part of their daily lifestyle.
HPB provides Singaporeans with evidence-based health information so that they have the knowledge and skills to take ownership of their health. And, to bring the programmes and initiatives to fruition, HPB relies on the hard work of its officers to collaborate with key stakeholders and the community so that ultimately, people in Singapore will lead better and healthier lives.
Isaac Yee is one of the people from HPB who is working tirelessly to make healthy living natural and effortless for Singapore. He joined HPB after graduating with a Bachelor of Social Sciences (Honours) with a major in Psychology from NUS and has gone through a variety of stints within the organisation.
The recipient of the HPB Undergraduate Scholarship looks back at his fulfilling career with HPB, and shares with us his hopes and aspirations.
What prompted you to consider a career in health promotion?
In 2007, my lungs collapsed due to a condition called Spontaneous Pneumothorax on three separate episodes, and temporarily took away my ability to participate in any physical activity. Even though I recovered, the experience made me reflect on how much I had been taking health for granted. Health became a value of mine, and I would often nag at my family or friends to eat well and engage in physical activity.
You joined HPB via its Undergraduate Scholarship. How did you discover it?
I knew about it from a BrightSparks mailer! I started researching more about what HPB did and felt that it could be something that I would enjoy as a career. I was also drawn to the fact that HPB was open to applicants from a wide range of fields, including psychology. It was a bonus for me to be able to apply what I learned in university to my work.
What sort of support did you receive from HPB for your studies?
HPB sponsored my university accommodation and my exchange programme to the University of Toronto, and provided a monthly allowance. This allowed me to focus on my studies, experience hostel life and exchange programmes without worrying about burdening my parents financially.
I had an internship with HPB during my summer break and participated in its corporate events. These gave me a better understanding of the health promotion landscape and allowed me to tailor my education towards it.
Tell us more about your current role and responsibilities.
Since December 2020, I have been with the Youth Engagements and Insights team of the School Health Outreach Division. We work with youths, youth groups and organisations to create healthier physical, social and virtual ecosystems for the youth in Singapore. The work includes conducting research and engagement sessions with youths, developing structures to support youth-led health promotion efforts, and formulating programmes to shift behavioural norms. I was also given the opportunity to take on various inter-division projects beyond just youth health.
Previously, you have held various positions in different departments at HPB. Could you tell us about them?
I started out in the Mental Health Education Department in 2015, managing the mental wellbeing efforts for students from Primary to JC levels. I was responsible for developing, implementing, and evaluating programmes to equip students with knowledge and skills to build resilience and cope with emotions and stress. I also worked with the Ministry of Education's Guidance Branch to help counsellors and teachers provide a supportive environment for students.
In September 2017, I was assigned to the Strategic Planning and Collaboration Division where I was involved in both corporate planning and international collaboration roles. Corporate planning involved creating and facilitating the processes to enable the organisation to develop its strategy and workplans, and to monitor its key performing indicators periodically. Beyond Singapore, I facilitated international dialogues, workshops and meetings to position HPB as a thought-leader in health promotion and learn best practices from abroad.
In April 2020, HPB was designated as the national agency to support COVID-19 testing in Singapore. I was assigned to the secretariat team supporting the Testing Operations Taskgroup responsible for the planning and operationalising of testing operations . My role was in facilitating decision making, monitoring performance platforms, and managing coordination and collaboration across teams.
Looks like your career at HPB has been really engaging and multi-faceted! How does HPB support its officers like you?
HPB provides opportunities for all officers to develop themselves and contribute to the best of their potential. Such opportunities come in the form of training sessions, mentorship, job rotations, secondment to other agencies, and involvement in projects that involve multiple parties. Officers are able to work with their reporting officers and HR to tailor their developmental journey.
There are also year-round opportunities for staff to participate in events and activities organised by the in-house staff wellness committee, "Ministry of Fun", to take their mind off work and bond with fellow colleagues. Time is also provided routinely for staff to participate in physical activities.
What would you say to convince someone to join HPB?
HPB is an organisation where your work will have an impact on the health and lives of thousands and even millions of people. The work will be challenging. Even if you are fresh out of school, you may find yourself being involved in the development and implementation of nation-wide programmes. It will definitely be a test of your resolve but, through the journey, you will gain more confidence in your ability and forge unbreakable bonds with many other passionate individuals.