Housing & Development Board
MND Cluster | HDB

Redefining the Future of Public Housing

With over 80% of Singapore’s population living in HDB flats, it is no wonder that the ubiquitous acronym HDB is synonymous with home! For Chen Tong, HDB was also his choice employer as he followed in his father’s footsteps to join one of Singapore’s largest statutory boards in serving the nation’s public housing needs.

Lee Chen Tong is an HDB Undergraduate Scholar and holds a Bachelor of Computing in Information Systems from NUS and a Master of Philosophy in Management from the University of Cambridge. He is the Deputy Director of the Application & Engineering Section in the Information Services Group.

For over sixty years, the Housing & Development Board (HDB) has housed an entire nation – today, more than one million flats have been completed across Singapore in 24 towns and three estates. Established on 1 February 1960, HDB is Singapore’s public housing authority and a statutory board under the Ministry of National Development. Throughout the years, HDB has provided quality and affordable public housing for generations of Singaporeans and its continuous innovation and upgrading programmes have ensured that the heartlands remain our cherished home.

HDB Scholar Chen Tong takes pride in being part of this organisation that enhances the lives of the masses and shapes the future of Singapore’s public housing. Chen Tong is a technologist and together with his team, they leverage Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to help HDB build better homes for tomorrow!

An Early Spark of Interest

Chen Tong’s interest in ICT started early when he picked up web development at a young age of 11. “Back then, I was intrigued by how information could be readily shared globally through websites and how easy it was to update such information even after publishing,” he shared. The instantaneity of the Internet as a platform for mass communication fascinated him so much that it propelled him to pursue a career in this field.

Chen Tong’s passion in creating things that excite people through technology guided his choice of scholarship. Remembering how his father who used to work in HDB had spoken fondly of “the meticulous and progressive attitude that the organisation bears towards nation-building “, he decided to apply for the HDB Undergraduate Scholarship after coming across HDB’s scholarship invitation on BrightSparks portal.

HDB covers an extremely diverse set of business processes and for Chen Tong, this diversity means that opportunities abound for talents from almost any discipline, allowing scholars to develop themselves in their areas of interest while still maintaining the flexibility to be exposed to other areas of work as they grow their careers.

Chen Tong accepted the HDB Undergraduate Scholarship to pursue a concurrent degree programme - a Bachelor of Computing in Information Systems at National University of Singapore and a Master of Philosophy in Management at the University of Cambridge.

“HDB was supportive of my aspirations and was flexible in making provisions for them. Throughout the four years of my higher education, HDB fully sponsored my tuition fees and provided me with the relevant living and travel allowances for both the local and overseas segments,” he shared.

Chen Tong

Chen Tong

Living Out His Aspirations

Today, Chen Tong is a Deputy Director leading the Application Engineering Section in leveraging ICT to better serve the nation’s public housing needs.

Web applications and digital services are now the norm for most businesses, and ICT solutions have moved from a mere novelty to becoming strategic assets of organisations like HDB. Chen Tong’s responsibilities comprise developing in-house cloud engineering capabilities, delivering cloud-native applications to serve HDB’s business needs, and empowering all existing application teams with the ability and resources to migrate their workloads onto the cloud.

“The work that my engineering teams do ultimately contributes to the creation and continuous enhancement of web applications that allow HDB’s customers and partners to transact with us digitally. These applications also facilitate staff in performing back-office workflows more effectively. Some examples include digital services allowing renovation contractors to register and apply for renovation permits with HDB, back-office workflow systems to streamline customer requests and appeals, and even customer relationship management systems to enable HDB to better attend to customers’ requests,” he explained.

“In HDB, opportunities abound for talents from almost any discipline, allowing scholars to develop themselves in their areas of interest while still maintaining the flexibility to be exposed to other areas of work as they grow their careers.” Chen Tong

Equipping Others for Success

Besides offering technical directions for the organisation’s cloud architecture, deciding on design solutions to adopt and identifying suitable business application and initiatives, Chen Tong also firmly believes in providing mentorship to his teammates in their career growth and seeking suitable opportunities for them to learn and develop themselves in line with their aspirations.

“I believe that a leader’s primary role is to develop his team by helping all members be the best that they can be, while attaining productivity in working towards the goals of the organisation,” he said. His achievement in building his team’s capabilities in developing and delivering cloud-native applications from scratch is testament to that.

As the pioneer in-house outfit developing cloud-based applications in HDB, Chen Tong and his team must explore, assess, and establish all the processes, solution patterns and best practices of cloud engineering from ground zero. The team’s progress represents a new organisational capability, validating the new model of software development for cloud and providing a basis upon which HDB can efficiently scale up its in-house cloud engineering efforts.