In Service of the People

After studying and working in the US, Japan and China to broaden his horizons, PSC scholar Eugene Lim returns with a vast spectrum of knowledge and experience to serve the public.

By Nabilah Husna A. Rahman

The Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) has been a cause for celebration for many Singaporeans, seeing how this inaugural event is set to be held locally in August this year. Together with the champions, the men and women in the Singapore YOG Organising Committee (SYOGOC) are the people who work hard to make this first-of-its-kind Olympic event a success.

At the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS), heavy involvement in the YOG is inevitable. Since the organisation plays the role of building a cohesive society in Singapore, the YOG serves as an ideal opportunity to encourage and promote this through sports.

Serving the Public

A large part of public service work involves inter-organisation effort, and the YOG is no different. For Public Service Commission (PSC) Overseas Merit scholar Eugene Lim, this interaction is what has kept him going for the last five years in the sector.

“I took up the scholarship because I wanted to give back to society, and this was a good way to contribute to Singapore,” the 30-year-old shares. “The public sector is a very large sector; it offers a wide variety of work that touches the lives of Singaporeans.”

Eugene went on to earn a Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering, as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The scholarship had also blessed him with many non-academic opportunities such as a study trip in Japan and working for a multinational corporation in China.

“I returned to Singapore in 2005, joining the Ministry of Law where I was posted to the Intellectual Property (IP) Policy Division, overseeing the area of patents,” he reveals. “It was my first experience doing things for the public service. Those two years were interesting, having to work with different people and learning quickly what copyright, trademarks and patents were about.”

In 2007, Eugene joined the Youth Division at MCYS where he contributed to Singapore’s bid for the YOG as part of youth development policy. He decided to join SYOGOC when Singapore won the bid so that he would have the opportunity to see the ideas for youth development in the bid through from conceptualisation to implementation. As Head of the Schools Programme Branch under the Culture & Education Programme Division in SYOGOC, he leads a small team of officers that oversee the implementation of various YOG-related programmes focused on schools.

“My portfolio in SYOGOC focuses on programmes to create opportunities together with the Ministry of Education (MOE) for young people in schools to be part of YOG,” he explains. “As part of my job, I give talks to teachers and students, as well as come up with policies and programmes. In fact, the Singapore Friendship Camp, which we organised for about 400 participants from over 130 national Olympic committees has only just ended!”

Seeing his efforts pay off is both gratifying and professionally fulfilling for Eugene. This, together with constant interaction with his colleagues and other professionals, keeps Eugene satisfied with his career.

“I get to interact with a lot of different people, and see others appreciate and enjoy the programmes we’ve helped to create,” he muses. “There is a real partnership between us and the schools. When we launched the Olympic education programme in December 2008 together with MOE, we left it to the schools’ creativity. Some schools have been very creative, like organising their own torch relay during sports day.”

Nurturing Future Leaders
The PSC not only takes in talented and passionate individuals under its wing, the scholars are also groomed to be the future leaders of civil service organisations under the Management Associates Programme (MAP).

“It’s been an interesting ride these past two years, especially as part of the MAP,” enthuses Eugene. “I’ve been really privileged to be given so many learning opportunities at work. Just having the satisfaction of seeing the ideas we have get translated to reality and being able to implement them ourselves is a satisfying and fulfilling experience.”

Still, such work comes with its challenges. “There are many projects that we need to juggle at work, so certainly in overcoming this challenge, planning, project management as well as partner management is important. We have to establish good relationships with colleagues from other agencies.

“We are also mindful of the fact that we are usually working in the background to make sure that everything ticks. But because it’s (the public sector) so wide, it’s almost like there’s something for everybody, as long as we can see the big picture and the need to pull as a team. What’s important is that you want to serve the people of Singapore and are willing to work hard to do that.”

While the nation and world awaits the inaugural YOG, Eugene and his colleagues work hard to give them the best sport, culture and education event they can offer.

“There’s been challenging and frustrating times, but overall it’s been a positive experience, and I’ve grown and learnt a lot from this experience,” he smiles. “So I would recommend others to consider the public sector as well as a career choice if they feel they want to give back to society in more tangible ways.”

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