Leanne Chan is a manager in the Municipal Services Office's Analytics team. She is a recipient of the MND EDGE Scholarship, and she holds a Bachelor of Science, Mathematics and Economics from the London School of Economics and a Master of Urban Spatial Analytics from University of Pennsylvania.
From the homes you stay in, to the parks nearby and almost everything that you see around you in Singapore, the Ministry of National Development (MND) would have had a hand in it.
As its name suggests, the MND is the Ministry responsible for national land use planning and development. Agencies such as Building and Construction Authority (BCA), the Housing & Development Board (HDB), the National Parks Board (NParks), and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) are under its purview. MND's vision for Singapore is "An Endearing Home and Distinctive Global City" by developing world-class infrastructure, creating a vibrant and sustainable living environment and building rooted and cohesive communities.
The MND EDGE Scholarship and a career with the Ministry allows you to work across agencies and with team members from different professional backgrounds.
The promise of a multi-faceted career attracted Leanne Chan to take up the MND EDGE Scholarship. Currently, Leanne's work in the Municipal Services Office at MND involves enhancing data-driven capabilities to improve the productivity of the municipal services sector in her role as a Manager at the Municipal Services Office Analytics Team.
Anchored on Sustainability
It was a case of things falling in place for Leanne. After learning more about sustainability while in school, Leanne was motivated to do more for the environment. In particular, for Singapore.
"Singapore is a small island, our resources are limited compared to other countries, thus developing in a sustainable way is even more crucial for us to ensure that the needs of both the present and future generations are cared for," she explained.
Her experience as an intern at the Ministry of Finance and a volunteer at her constituency's meet-the-people's sessions made her think about pursuing a career in public service.
"I was an intern at Ministry of Finance's Corporate Communications Division, where I compiled feedback from the public and looked through previous year's speeches for policies that addressed these concerns. In addition, my experience as a volunteer at meet-the-people sessions also exposed me to the challenging but rewarding world of public policy, as I saw the direct impact of policy on citizens."
The MND EDGE Scholarship offered a sweet spot for Leanne, and she put pen to paper almost immediately when it was offered to her.
"What drew me to the MND scholarship was that MND's work concerns the built and natural environment that we live in, from housing to greenery, so its work can directly be seen and felt by residents. I saw the scholarship as an opportunity for me to work on conserving and building this living environment sustainably for our community."
On the back of the MND EDGE Scholarship, Leanne pursued a Bachelor of Science, Mathematics and Economics from the London School of Economics and a Master of Urban Spatial Analytics from the University of Pennsylvania. Her education background may be diverse but collectively, it has put her in good stead for her work at MND.
"My undergraduate studies in economics equipped me with the framework and knowledge to solve problems. For example, the idea of scarcity and weighing trade-offs are applicable to any policy decision," she said.
"I decided to pursue a master's degree in urban spatial analytics because I was interested in using data science to solve problems related to public policy. I had the opportunity to apply what I had learnt in theory to solve real city council problems. For my capstone project, I built a website to help the Philadelphia Fire Department prioritise fire-hydrant inspections based on the predicted risk of both fire and hydrant failure. This prepared me well for my current role, where I analyse large datasets of municipal feedback to draw out key insights for our stakeholders."
Leveraging Municipal Feedback Data
As the Manager at the Municipal Services Office Analytics Team, Leanne looks into improving the delivery of municipal services to residents through analysing municipal feedback data for upcoming trends, and sharing these insights with government agencies and Town Councils to help them allocate their resources more efficiently and sustainably.
"My main portfolio includes managing the municipal services dashboard that shows the latest feedback trends and hotspots, and preparing quarterly reports for stakeholders. This challenges me to combine both technical skills and people skills in managing vendors, Agencies, and Town Councils," said Leanne.
She also takes her analytical skills to assist her other colleagues at MND.
"There is a lot of information that can be mined from our municipal feedback data- a large and diverse set of feedback data pertaining to the upkeep of our living environment nationwide. This includes the maintenance of greenery and roads, and the cleanliness of public areas, just to name a few. This rich set of data is also useful for other divisions in the MND family, and there have been many interesting problem statements. For example, I have mined the data to understand the prevalence of group buying behaviour and if it has caused problems to residents as a result."
Beyond her main role and responsibilities, Leanne is the co-chair of the MND Health & Sports Sub-committee. She appreciates the opportunity to take on this "side gig", as it allows her to develop other soft skills and work with colleagues from other teams.
A Far-Reaching Career
As evident from Leanne's career at MND so far, MND EDGE Scholars are given full support to pursue their academic endeavours and are assigned roles where they can apply their skills and expertise optimally. Leanne also values the opportunities to grow professionally in her career, with various roles across various different agencies.
"MND EDGE Scholars can look forward to varied and diverse career opportunities, including job rotations within each organisation, professional industry attachments for greater exposure and inter-agency postings to other statutory boards or the Ministry headquarters."
Leanne encourages prospective scholars to apply for the MND EDGE Scholarship, especially if you want to effect a positive change to the environment around you.
"Come join our MND family and play a role in building a more vibrant and sustainable living environment for your family, your friends, and Singaporeans!"