Housing & Development Board
MND Cluster | HDB

Designing a Purposeful Future with HDB

SP Thenappa Shanmuham, a Senior Engineer at the Housing & Development Board (HDB), exemplifies how the HDB Undergraduate Scholarship (Local) nurtures his passion for engineering and fuels his dedication to excellence.

SP Thenappa Shanmuham is a Senior Engineer at the Housing & Development Board. He is a recipient of the HDB Undergraduate Scholarship (Local) and holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical Engineering) and Bachelor of Arts (Economics) from NUS.

TThe Housing & Development Board (HDB) is steadfast in providing affordable and high-quality housing for its residents. As a government statutory board, HDB’s mission goes far beyond bricks and mortar; it’s about creating a nurturing environment where communities thrive, promoting positive neighbourly behaviour, and improving residents’ lives.

In this pursuit of excellence, HDB offers scholarships that empower and support bright minds like SP Thenappa Shanmuham, who has a passion for engineering and is dedicated to making a difference in Singapore.

A Spark of Interest in Engineering

Thenappa’s journey in engineering began with a fascination for solving complex problems and creating innovative solutions. His love for mathematics and physics naturally led him towards engineering, driven by the desire to understand how things worked.

“When I was younger, I watched Air Crash Investigation episodes on TV and was fascinated by how much engineering can make the difference between life and death. These experiences piqued my interest in engineering,” he recalled.

After completing his National Service, Thenappa embarked on a quest to look for scholarships to secure a job before graduation, which would in turn provide him with the flexibility to explore a wider range of academic and non-academic interests during university. The HDB Undergraduate Scholarship ticked all the boxes.

“I applied for the scholarship when I saw it on BrightSparks and was glad to be awarded it because of HDB’s diverse work portfolio and significant impact on people’s lives,” Thenappa said.

A Dual Degree Journey

Thenappa simultaneously pursued a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical Engineering) and a Bachelor of Arts (Economics). His choice was guided by his passion for both fields.

He explained, “I chose to pursue mechanical engineering due to its diversity and broad applicability across various industries. My interest in economics was sparked during my junior college years when I took H2 Economics. Then, I was fascinated by how the fundamental principles of economics could help me understand and relate to macro and micro issues happening around the world.”

The HDB Undergraduate Scholarship provided Thenappa with the financial freedom to make the most of his university experience. It covered his tuition fees, provided him with a monthly allowance and supported his participation in overseas student exchange and summer school programmes.

These experiences enriched his university life and provided unforgettable memories, shaping him into the professional he is today.

Applying Knowledge to Work

As a Senior Engineer at HDB, Thenappa is responsible for designing and supervising the construction of mechanical systems in HDB developments. His academic background has proven valuable, helping him better understand and appreciate the designs of mechanical systems.

Additionally, the soft skills he developed during his university years, such as public speaking, teamwork, and interpersonal communication, have proven invaluable in his current role. He often presents ideas, deals with various stakeholders, and collaborates with teams to navigate the milestones of Build-to-Order (BTO) projects successfully.

For Thenappa, the most meaningful aspect of his work is the deep sense of purpose at HDB. “At HDB, everyone is aligned in our strong sense of dedication to bettering the lives of people in all that we do. I find great meaning in what I do, as it contributes to making a positive impact on a large proportion of people in Singapore.”

“I believe that by leading with empathy, integrity, and a growth mindset, I can create a positive impact on the people around me and contribute to the success of the organisation.” SP Thenappa Shanmuham

A Role Beyond Engineering

Thenappa also serves as the Secretary for the HDB Mechanical & Electrical (M&E) Advisory Panel, established to promote excellence in public housing projects’ mechanical and electrical engineering design. The panel, comprising esteemed M&E engineers, advises on innovative engineering design and offers valuable feedback for continuous improvement.

In his role as the Secretary, Thenappa coordinates engagements, prepares materials, and facilitates the appointment of candidates to the panel. “By coordinating these efforts, I ensure that the panel operates smoothly and effectively, enabling us to benefit from the insights and expertise of industry experts and continuously improve our engineering design for the benefit of our residents.”

One aspect of Thenappa’s tenure at HDB that pleasantly surprised him was the significant development of his interpersonal skills. While he expected to be primarily involved in technical work, he found himself working with various stakeholders, internal and external, and learned to adapt to different working styles, understand diverse concerns, and handle different personalities.

His ability to communicate effectively and build relationships with others proved to be just as important as his technical skills in achieving success in his role. The collaborative work culture at HDB fostered an environment where he could apply his technical expertise while developing critical soft skills.

SP Thenappa Shanmuham

SP Thenappa Shanmuham

Unleashing Potential at HDB

In addition, HDB is an organisation that values and promotes lifelong learning. Employees have the opportunity to select their learning plans at the beginning of each year, with the organisation offering a wide range of technical and general courses for competency and personal development.

Thenappa’s aspirations include gaining exposure to various facets of work in HDB, expanding his skillsets, and contributing more effectively to the organisation’s goals. “In the future, I aspire to become an effective leader who can uplift and inspire others to achieve their full potential.”

A Bright Future Awaits

Thenappa’s journey from a scholarship recipient to a Senior Engineer at HDB exemplifies the transformative potential of education, passion, and hard work. He is poised to continue making a meaningful impact in the field of engineering and beyond. Thenappa’s commitment to excellence and the well-being of the community aligns with HDB’s mission of providing affordable, quality housing and nurturing thriving communities.

He concluded: “I believe that by leading with empathy, integrity, and a growth mindset, I can create a positive impact on the people around me and contribute to the success of the organisation.”