I n a country like Singapore where land is a scarce and precious resource, the work of the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) is paramount. It is quite a wonder for our small island state to develop into the rich metropolitan nation that it is today, and this is made possible because of SLA’s efficient use of our limited land.
On a constant quest for innovative solutions to maximise our land resources, SLA dedicates considerable effort to boost Singapore’s growth. The organisation ensures the best use of state land and buildings, regulates an effective and reliable land management system, and leverages essential land information to elevate land management standards.
Joining SLA’s team of dedicated professionals in handling land administration issues are Sharmaine Soon and Alvin Yeo, who are both SLA Scholars. These two lively and passionate individuals spend time with us to tell us about their amazing journeys with SLA, enlightening us about the inner workings of the organisation.
What drew you to the SLA scholarship?
Sharmaine Soon: I have always been intrigued by how Singapore is able to make use of our limited land resources to achieve so much progress. I wanted to satisfy my curiosity about how our government uses innovative ways to achieve the full potential of our land, and the surest way was through a career at SLA.
Alvin Yeo: I have always been amazed by Singapore’s ability to overcome its land constraints and emerge as not only an economic powerhouse in the Asian region – but also the most liveable city.
Sharmaine Soon Qin Rong
SLA Local (Mid-Term) Undergraduate Scholar
Head / Lease Management (Team 4), Lease Management & Sales
As a city-state, there is a high cost of underutilising our land. SLA is dedicated to optimising land resources for the economic and social development of Singapore through its land administration system. A career with SLA provides an opportunity for me to be part of the equation that contributes directly to the success of our nation.
What do you do at SLA?
Sharmaine: I have just been rotated to Head of the Lease Management Team with effect from 1 April 2016. Prior to that, I was the Head of Education, Social & Healthcare Team of Land Lease Private where I lead a team of four to manage tenancies of state properties rented out for uses such as childcare centres, commercial schools, nursing homes and so on. We walk the ground to engage our tenants closely and keep up-to-date on their operations. We also administer tenancy matters, work with other agencies closely on tenant’s proposals for building works, and manage issues of various complexities with different stakeholders. The work is challenging but definitely rewarding.
Alvin: I am currently in the Geospatial Division, which spearheads the use of geospatial information to create value for the government and the community. Traditionally, geospatial information plays a crucial role in land administration, allowing us to clearly define land boundaries and map out our nation. Hence, it is no surprise that SLA is one of the early adopters of geospatial technologies. The use of geospatial technology permeates practically every field such as social and healthcare services. I am glad to be part of the team that engages public agencies to promote the usage of geospatial information in order to improve work processes, service delivery and policy planning.
SLA Local (Full-Term) Undergraduate Scholar
Principal GeoSpatial Executive, GeoSpatial Division
What development opportunities are you given as an SLA Scholar and employee?
Sharmaine: I have been given many interesting and challenging projects. These include implementing the Reservation Framework for state properties, setting up an independent advisory panel to evaluate tenancy renewals for state properties, and collaborating with the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) to institute the price-quality tender for pre-school uses. These projects have taught me to multi-task effectively, and appreciate and adapt to different stakeholders’ considerations to reach a desired outcome.
Just as what most young officers desire, I was also given opportunities to go on overseas trips. I attended a geospatial conference in Korea to learn from the best people in the industry. I learnt to appreciate the effort and challenges in the G-to-G partnership between Singapore and China through a first-hand visit of the Tianjin Eco-City. These interactions with overseas counterparts and exposure to different ways of governance broadened my horizons and gave me insights into new areas beyond my core real estate work. As unlimited as our space is in Singapore, so are the opportunities in SLA!
Alvin: My team at the Geospatial Division not only promotes the use of geospatial information locally, but internationally as well. SLA represents Singapore as part of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UNGGIM), an initiative aimed at promoting the use of geospatial information to address key global challenges. SLA, on behalf of Singapore, leads a Task Group comprising members from eight countries to study and identify best practices in the realm of geospatial information management. I am very fortunate to be given the opportunity to liaise with international geospatial experts and to be part of the team that successfully prepared a report that was presented at the 2015 UNGGIM meeting held in New York City. It is indeed an amazing experience to attend the UNGGIM meeting and hear the views of international geospatial experts.
What advice would you have for those who wish to take up the SLA Scholarship?
Sharmaine: I’m going to answer this by appropriating SLA’s acronym:
Sure. Be sure that you really want to build and grow your career in a statutory board. Don’t take up the scholarship for the prestige or job guarantee after graduation.
Love. You must love buildings and land. You are going to be the custodian of these state assets!
Ask. Ask people and find out as much as you can about SLA, other agencies, and life in the private sector to make an informed decision. It is, after all, a big commitment!
Alvin: Do consider doing an internship with SLA, even if it is for a short period of time. It will help you to better understand the works of the various divisions. During the internship, converse with as many people as possible to understand the business and the skills required. This will help you determine if a career at SLA is suitable for you. Be assured that a pleasant and fulfilling career lies ahead of you if you choose SLA.