Cassandra Pee is currently seconded to Ministry of Community Culture and Youth (MCCY) as Assistant Manager (Transformation) under Strategic Planning & Finance Division. She is a PA Scholar and has a Bachelor of Social Sciences in Political Science from NUS.
The People’s Association (PA) is responsible for fostering racial harmony and social cohesion and acts as a bridge between the Government and the people. From grassroots-level community activities at community centres/clubs (CCs) across the nation to its role in conveying public sentiment to the government to effect long-term positive gains, PA actively fosters a sense of community and belonging in all of us. Thanks to PA, we are never in doubt of our national identity as one people, one nation, one Singapore.
With experience in both grassroots-level engagement and higher-level strategic planning, Cassandra is putting her Bachelor of Social Sciences in Political Science to good use as a PA Scholar.
She is building communities and bridging lives, first as a Constituency Manager at Kampong Chai Chee Constituency Office, and in her current role, where she is seconded to the Ministry of Community, Culture and Youth (MCCY) as an Assistant Manager in the Transformation Office under the Strategic Planning & Finance Division.
Speaking to us about her scholarship journey with PA, she impressed upon us the most important trait of all – a will to work for our home.
Why did you choose to apply for the PA Scholarship?
PA’s mission and vision inspired me: building and bridging communities. I was motivated to be a part of an organisation that affects the lives of every Singaporean. In PA, officers and the grassroots leaders on the ground every day are attuned to the concerns, aspirations, and needs of Singaporeans. With direct access to residents, networks, and resources, PA is about enabling Singaporeans who have ideas, skills, stories, to strengthen social capital in the community. Through these platforms, we would then be able to create a more adaptive, resilient society in future.
With the COVID-19 situation, we experienced first-hand that we live in an increasingly unpredictable and complex world: we must strive to build a society that is resilient – with the capacity to manage its resources efficiently, adapt quickly, and be innovative for the future.
You studied a Bachelor of Social Sciences in Political Science at NUS. What was something you learnt that helped you in your work with PA?
As an undergraduate studying Political Science in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS), I was also part of the University Scholars Programme (USP). Through this, I experienced different cultures and engaged with people with diverse worldviews in Singapore as well as in France (I was there on a one-year exchange programme). The programme made me reflect on my identity as a Singaporean and the societal paradigms of our society today.
From there, I realised anew how integral PA’s mission is to preserving and continuing to preserve that intrinsic Singaporean identity. I developed a forward-looking, learning-oriented mindset and this enabled me to empower and motivate others to be creative and innovative in accomplishing PA’s mission of bridging communities.
Could you tell us about your work and how it bridges communities?
In PA, what drives the work that we do is the empowerment of our grassroots and residents with knowledge, skills and resources for community building. In MCCY, where I currently am, Public Sector Transformation work empowers public officers and organisations to be intelligent and innovative in their work to build a Future Workplace.
When I was Constituency Manager at Kampong Chai Chee, our constituency office served residents who are in need, organised activities and events to engage the community and took care of the day-to-day operations of the CC.
All our work at PA is community-centred and focused on forming long-lasting bonds between our constituents and ourselves, and each other. It is incredibly rewarding to be part of forming connections between people and seeing Singaporeans develop as a community.
What is your most significant career achievement to date?
I would say that the trust and relationships established with my colleagues, residents and grassroots volunteers at Kampong Chai Chee are my greatest achievement.
Building a community involves a shared understanding and trust, which takes genuine interest, care, concern, and time. I began as a fresh graduate with no working experience and it was difficult to enable and empower the local community. Over time, I gained operational wisdom, sensitivity to ground sentiments, and built relationships with colleagues, residents and the grassroots.
I believe that that enables and empowers the residents in the local community, which is an achievement worth celebrating in realising our mission as One PA.
What is it like working at PA?
PA is an organisation that is resilient and has a heart for the people of Singapore. Hence, all our work is with the goal of bridging people, and that’s what inspires us to keep doing our best. The organisation is not only a great place to work at, but a direct source of inspiration and support for me.
My colleagues in PA are amazing: one minute they are interacting with residents, planning events with the grassroots volunteers, and the next minute they could be setting up logistics and writing reports. Sometimes I think that they could surmount any obstacle!
Speaking of obstacles, PA services have been providing essential support throughout the Covid-19 crisis. What did that mean to you, personally?
I am proud to be a PA staff. PA’s efforts in supporting Singaporeans as essential frontline services during COVID-19 have been immensely encouraging and humbling.
With the COVID-19 situation, we experienced first-hand that we live in an increasingly unpredictable and complex world: we must strive to build a resilient society – with the capacity to manage its people and resources efficiently, adapt quickly and be innovative for the future.
For those thinking of joining PA, what possibilities are there for scholars working at your organisation?
PA is an organisation that supports its staff as well as all of Singapore. So, a scholar will firstly have the opportunity to contribute to nation-building in a direct and tangible way – you will be at the frontline of community efforts interacting and learning about so many different people and perspectives. In fact, it was that very opportunity to bring my community closer that drew me to PA.
I am very thankful for an organisation that gives us full support in our independent pursuits of what we believe is meaningful and relevant for our career in PA. For example, although student exchange programmes last only for an academic semester, PA made a special decision to support my studies at in Political Science at SciencesPo Paris (Le Havre) for a full academic year.
What advice would you give to aspiring scholars looking to join PA?
Understanding what you aspire towards and see purpose in is of greatest significance. This compass will direct you in all aspects of your life.
If you have a heart for the community, joining PA would be imperative, almost necessary – in achieving your career goal and life purpose.