Left: Rouvin Erh Heng Rui will be pursuing a Bachelor of Computing in Information
Security at the National University of Singapore (NUS). He is a Smart Nation scholar and he will be embarking on a career with Cyber Security Agency of Singapore after his studies.
Middle: Anna Ying Fangfei is pursuing a double degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering and Economics at NUS. She is a Smart Nation Scholarship recipient and she will be applying her knowledge, passion and expertise at Government Technology Agency upon graduation.
Right: Enelton Satria graduated from NUS with degrees in Computing (Information Systems) and Business Administration (Accountancy), and he will be pursuing an MPhil in Technology Policy at the University of Cambridge in 2022. He is a Smart Nation Scholarship (mid-term) recipient and he will be joining Infocomm Media Development Authority upon graduation.
Just imagine going through a day without your smartphone and the Internet. For most of us, it’ll be quite a torture.
It is quite evident that technology has become an integral part of our lives. We use online applications for socialising, entertainment, and even work. Businesses use technology as an enabler, allowing them to innovate and create novel solutions for clients and customers. For the Singapore government, a lot of its services are now digitalised and accessible virtually at your fingertips. More will be expected, especially with Singapore’s push to be a Smart Nation.
The opportunities are boundless for people working in this space, and to help young talents fulfil their passion and potential, we created the Smart Nation Scholarship (SNS).
Rouvin Erh, Anna Ying and Enelton Satria are recipients of the SNS, and they are raring to apply their knowledge and expertise to Singapore’s technology sector. They will be joining Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA), Government Technology Agency (GovTech) and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) respectively upon graduation.
The trio shared with us their journey as Smart Nation scholars, as well as their aspirations and goals working in their respective organisations.
Rouvin (joining CSA): How did your interest in cybersecurity come about?
Rouvin: I got interested in cybersecurity through Capture-The-Flag (CTF) competitions. I found out about CTFs while serving National Service, and after taking part in a few competitions and doing online challenges, I was hooked. The community and people I have interacted with during CTFs are sometimes already working in the industry and getting to find out more about how they can protect their organisations’ digital infrastructure or the nation’s cyberspace further sparked my interest. This made me decide to pursue a career in cybersecurity.
Anna (joining GovTech): Tell us more about your interest in technology and how both engineering and economics come into the picture?
Anna: Growing up, I always wanted to become a professional puzzle-solver like one of my favourite literary characters, Sherlock Holmes. As such, I chose to pursue a Double Degree Programme in Industrial & Systems Engineering and Economics. Just as Sherlock Holmes would identify small bits of evidence and apply logical and deductive reasoning to solve mysteries, I would define economic models in terms of objective functions and constraints and apply statistical and analytical methods and tools to computationally solve them. Going one step further, I could build machine learning models and use the values to support my analysis.
Enelton (joining IMDA): How did you find out about the Smart Nation Scholarship?
Enelton: I received an email from my university’s career services about the SNS. Intrigued by the opportunity, I started researching Singapore’s Smart Nation vision and the various SNS agencies - CSA, GovTech, and IMDA. Through this self-discovery, I grasped an overarching understanding of how the agencies work cohesively to advance Singapore’s Smart Nation agenda and protect our cyberspace.
There are many options in the technology sector. Why did you choose to start your career with your respective agencies?
Rouvin: CSA is responsible for overseeing the national cybersecurity strategy and developing the cybersecurity ecosystem for Singapore. Understanding the role that CSA plays, I wanted to start there as it would allow me to directly contribute towards protecting Singapore’s cyberspace. Working in CSA would also expose me to both red and blue team jobs, allowing me to hone my skills and become a better cybersecurity professional.
Anna: Beyond data science and artificial intelligence, I am also passionate about social entrepreneurship, which I find very meaningful because the beneficiaries can feel empowered by their active involvement in the business, which also makes the model more sustainable because it does not depend on the graciousness of donors. This makes my dream job an intersection of infocomm technologies and making a social impact. Hence, GovTech is the perfect fit for me.
Enelton: As an undergraduate studying Accountancy and Information Systems, IMDA is the natural choice for me because they operate at the intersection of the private and public sectors. I hope to marry the business and technology skillsets and to work on Smart Nation projects which aim to build a future-ready digital infrastructure and accelerate the digitalisation of businesses through innovation and experimentation.
Share with us some of the opportunities that you have benefited from as a SNS scholar.
Rouvin: The SNS gave me the chance to intern at CSA. Through the internship, I learned how to do risk assessments of emerging technologies and how they impact Singapore. Furthermore, I was exposed to cybersecurity technical standards from organisations such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The internship was an overall enriching experience as I discovered more industries and different fields of cybersecurity through interactions with the team I was attached to.
Anna: The Smart Nation Scholarship enabled me to pursue a student exchange programme at Georgia Institute of Technology in the United States without worrying about financial constraints. This allowed me to experience independent living in a foreign country and immerse myself in the local culture, to broaden my perspectives in an increasingly connected world. It also allowed me to take a wider variety of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE) courses in data analysis, mathematical modelling and simulations at Georgia Tech, which is known for having the best ISyE programme in the US. In addition, GovTech offers mentorship during the remainder of my studies, as well as networking opportunities with like-minded peers, experienced engineers, and leaders. I was also provided with periodic career conversations and personal development check-ins with my mentors.
Enelton: Firstly, SNS provides internship opportunities for students to explore their interests in various departments. Secondly, this scholarship enables students to fully immerse themselves in either a local or overseas university for the duration of a semester. Thirdly, during one’s undergraduate programme, agencies will invite students to networking events and development workshops. I recently attended IMDA’s inaugural “Associate in Infocomm Media (AIM): Hang Out!” event to network and learn from recent graduates, and participated in IMDA’s Year-End Retreat 2021.
What opportunities are you looking forward to the most when you start work with your respective agencies?
Rouvin: Upon graduation, I will be joining CSA’s Cybersecurity Development Programme (CSDP), and I look forward to learning more and honing my cybersecurity skills. I’m excited at the opportunities to explore the multiple different cyber domains, to get hands-on experience in national projects, collaborate and journey together with fellow cybersecurity enthusiasts.
Anna: I am looking forward to the 2-year Technology Associate Programme (TAP), a leadership-trainee programme which would allow me to sharpen and develop my technical and professional skills through exposure to large-scale projects, with the opportunity to rotate among technology tracks including the five tech domains and various ministry-based clusters. In this way, I hope to find my best fit in GovTech where I am applying what I have learnt in doing meaningful work by contributing to nationwide projects that can and will touch the lives of many in our society.
Enelton: I look forward to joining IMDA’s Associate in Infocomm Media (AIM) Graduate Development Programme, which is a structured rotational programme. We have the opportunity to explore a total of four departments over the span of two years. I am keen on applying for the technology policy roles in my first rotation.
How do you feel about being able to contribute significantly to Singapore’s push to be a Smart Nation?
Rouvin: The prospect of working in CSA really does feel very fulfilling. I feel privileged to be able to achieve my goal of using my skills for the greater public good and also being able to pursue a career in a field I am passionate about. Seeing the rapid move towards digitalisation in Singapore and the increasing importance for cybersecurity, it strengthens my resolve to be part of CSA’s mandate – to keep Singapore’s cyberspace safe and secure.
Anna: I am proud to say that I am working towards becoming the change I wish to see in the world, and I hope that others in my generation and younger are also doing the same to build our nation.
Enelton: I am grateful to be a part of the nation’s digitisation movement. Digital Innovations are tremendously evolving the way that we make, consume, and share information, and unleash opportunities for more new and exciting ventures, be it business models, methods to govern data and technology or avenues for public engagement. This can aid in addressing the current technological problems which are cropping up, taking into account the perspectives of the government, society and business. I very much look forward to contributing to shaping the digital innovation in Singapore’s ICT ecosystem.
What would you say to convince someone to consider the Smart Nation Scholarship?
Rouvin: If you have an interest in pursuing a career in technology and want to use your skills to transform the country and better the lives of people, then this is the scholarship for you!
Anna: As the saying goes “Be the change you wish to see in the world” If you are looking to pursue a career in tech while making a meaningful social impact, then the Smart Nation Scholarship is for you.
Enelton: I’d strongly encourage prospective candidates to apply for the Smart Nation Scholarship because it is also an opportunity for applicants to learn more about the agency during the assessment period.The SNS scholarship will open many doors to countless opportunities. Scholars can hone their technical and leadership skills and participate in meaningful projects that would make a positive difference in society.