Elena Yap, HPB Overseas Merit Undergraduate Scholar, has a Bachelor of Science (Economics) with 1st Class Honours from The London School of Economics & Political Science.
The nationwide efforts of Health Promotion Board (HPB) lay the path for Singaporeans to lead a healthy life. Guided by evidence-based health knowledge, HPB formulates and implements health policies and programmes that improve the nation’s health.
One of the heroes safeguarding everyone’s well-being is HPB Overseas Merit Undergraduate Scholar, Elena Yap. Part of the team that monitors and implements policies pertaining to non-communicable diseases, she is responsible for driving and monitoring the national strategies for tobacco control and early detection and management of chronic diseases and cancers.
Being seconded to Ministry of Health (MOH), she manages multiple healthcare stakeholders such as hospitals, clinics, the Health Science Authority (HSA) and HPB itself. As MOH tackles the pandemic and its effects, her portfolio further diversified to include contact tracing operations, with a team of investigation officers and contact tracers for surveillance and containment efforts.
What do her efforts mean, to her, and all of us by extension? Elena’s answers speak for her passion and the gravity of HPB’s mission.
How did you get interested in healthcare as a career?
Public health is an area of work that makes an impact on many people, and is also multi-disciplinary in nature, which makes it an interesting field to work in.
How did you discover the HPB Overseas Merit Undergraduate Scholarship, and why did you apply for it?
Coincidentally enough, I actually discovered this scholarship through Brightsparks! I was quite certain since my schooling years I wanted to work in healthcare, and HPB’s work appealed to me as it is at the “ground level”, helping each and every one of us.
As a HPB Overseas Merit Undergraduate Scholar, HPB gave you the opportunity to study in UK at The London School of Economics & Political Science. What were some lessons that you apply to your current work now?
Academics aside, the biggest impact that my university days had on me was the exposure and exchange of different cultures, ideas and opinions, especially as there were plenty of international students. Being in a foreign land, I also had to learn how to be independent and establish my own social networks.
Many of these personal and soft skills apply even to this day, for example, being open-minded to new ideas and bringing the different opinions on the table together.
Tell us about the different positions that you have worked in at HPB.
I started off with the community outreach team with the Regional Health System and Community Outreach Division. The bulk of my work then was focused on building partnerships with community partners such as the grassroots and Voluntary Welfare Organisations, and the implementation of health promotion programmes on the ground.
I then transited to the planning and strategy team under the Workplace Health and Outreach Division, where my team monitors and reviews the division’s strategies and programmes for companies. A large part of my job scope includes managing public and private partnerships and establishing thought leadership in workplace health.
Today, I work on non-communicable diseases policies in the Epidemiology & Disease Department in Ministry of Health, specifically in disease screening and tobacco control. This includes policy formulation, regulation, IT and more, all done in collaboration with stakeholders across the public healthcare system.
And how have these enriched your professional experience?
Each stint provided a different perspective to the bigger picture of healthcare and its issues. For example, there are many challenges and considerations when it comes to policy formulation. With the various positions over the years, I have been exposed to many work areas from policy-making to operational implementation, which helps when thinking through issues end-to-end.
Every new position brought with it new challenges and exciting projects because the scope of work varied tremendously.
It is always a memorable achievement to me when I roll out new initiatives that could positively impact others, be it small-scale ones in the community, to national policies.
What possibilities are there for people working at the organisation?
In HPB, there are many interesting projects and areas of work ranging from front-facing partner engagement to strategic planning. There are plenty of opportunities for staff to innovate and take charge of their career development.
The working environment and culture is vital, and HPB provides a nurturing environment for officers to grow and develop their capabilities. HPB officers are also passionate in their work, and that creates a culture that motivates us to press on.
What advice would you give to aspiring scholars looking to join HPB?
It is a career that you are choosing, and not just a scholarship. Be open-minded to try new things, and to learn from others.