Nicholas Oh read a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences (Societies) at University College London under the MND EDGE Scholarship. He is currently an Assistant Director in Infrastructure at MND, where his primary portfolios deal with transforming industries and regulatory reviews.
While he was growing up, Nicholas had always found his home fascinating.
“I have always admired how vibrant and diverse Singapore as a city is,” he recalled. “A large part of me has always been invested in maintaining this global metropolis that we have put together in a very short span of time, and ensuring that all of us living in Singapore continue to enjoy a myriad of opportunities, even as we move into a new age of technology and challenges.”
Nicholas admired public service leaders like the former Housing & Development Board (HDB) and Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) CEO Cheong Koon Hean, and the former Centre for Liveable Cities (CLC) Director Khoo Teng Chye, and aspired to be like them.
Nicholas felt that a career with the Ministry of National Development made the most sense to him, as he was not particularly fixated on any one specialisation; but the built environment sector as a whole.
Something for Everyone
MND is responsible for our nation’s land use planning and development. This translates to a wide ambit of policy areas, such as guiding Singapore’s land use planning, urban redevelopment and building conservation, delivering affordable and quality public housing, developing an efficient construction industry to ensure a safe, quality and sustainable built environment, providing and managing parks, as well as resolving municipal issues. Beyond policy, there is also a variety of job roles including data analysis, public communications and many more.
What stood out for Nicholas was the diverse opportunities which the MND EDGE Scholarship offered – with roles in planning, building and maintaining our built environment. He felt this was where he saw himself beginning and sustaining a career in the public service for some time; as the scholarship provides him with the flexibility to gain work experience in various job roles.
Nicholas is currently an Assistant Director at the Infrastructure Division. His primary portfolio deals with the transformation of the construction and facilities management industries, as well as regulatory reviews for the built environment sector.
Under the MND EDGE Scholarship programme, Nicholas can look forward to diverse career opportunities beyond MND. For his next posting, Nicholas is keen to gain some ground experience at a statutory board under the MND Family, and better understand the issues faced on the ground in the implementation of policies.
Nicholas finds MND’s work in developing world-class infrastructure, creating a vibrant and sustainable living environment and building rooted and cohesive communities meaningful.
“I do think that this is actually the best thing about working in MND,” he said. “As someone who is primarily motivated to find meaning in the work that I do, this comes easily when you work in a Ministry that builds and maintains the built environment for future generations of Singaporeans.”
Diversified Career and Education Opportunitie
Nicholas also experienced a diversity in education opportunities with the MND EDGE Scholarship. Nicholas read Bachelor of Arts and Sciences (Societies) at University College London, where he got to meet and debate opinions with people from across the world.
Free to pursue his interests, Nicholas chose an interdisciplinary liberal arts course. He dabbled in modules such as urban studies, sociology, political science, economics, population health, and even coding. Outside the campus, Nicholas was a mental health advocate, volunteered as an academic coach, and even did a three-month volunteering stint in Kenya to help develop a school.
On how this was relevant to his current work, Nicholas said “What I have tried to carry over into working life is the need to create buy-in for the important things we do. When you are aware there is no correct answer to most complex policy issues, you keep in mind the need to engage and listen to as many stakeholders as possible.”
“This will ensure that we can make decisions that can actually bring benefit to Singaporeans, and are sustainable for the longer term.”
A Future with MND
On pursuing a career with MND, he emphasised: “If you feel strongly about making a difference in the Built Environment, then I would say that a job role at MND is something you should seriously consider.”