Since starting in 1955, the CPF Board has continually worked to help Singaporeans in all aspects of their lives. Find out from two CPF scholars how being in CPF has helped changed their lives and the lives of Singaporeans at the same time.
By Joyce Lin
From a simple retirement savings scheme conceptualised in 1955, the Central Provident Fund (CPF) has evolved into a comprehensive social security system that helps Singaporeans to plan for their retirement, housing, and healthcare needs.
Over the years, the CPF Board has adapted to meet the ever-changing needs of its CPF members with the launch of new programmes like the CPF Life scheme in 2009 and more recently, the Workfare Training Support scheme on 1 July 2010.
As Singapore moves into a more competitive world environment, it has become even more imperative for the CPF Board to have the capabilities to make social innovations that enable Singaporeans to plan for their retirement and financial needs.
To address these challenges, the Board continually sources for new talents who want to make a meaningful impact in the lives of fellow Singaporeans while embarking on an enriching and fulfilling career with the Board.
One such channel is the CPF Board’s Mid-term Undergraduate Scholarship Programme, which is specially tailored for bright undergraduates from local universities such as National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University, and Singapore Management University.
An enriching and fulfilling career
April Lee was searching for exactly that.
The Hwa Chong Junior College alumnus had graduated with stellar ‘A’ level results and was trying to figure out the best choice to make for her scholarship and career.
An incident with an elderly man helped her make that choice.
April assisted an elderly man who had lost his way to find directions, and she felt good to be able to help the elderly in need.
“The satisfaction of helping someone gave me the answer that I was looking for when I was deciding on which scholarship to take. By joining the CPF Board, I can help Singaporeans to accumulate adequate CPF savings for retirement. Hence, I chose to take up the scholarship,” she shares.
April graduated with a degree in Information Systems from NUS under the CPF Board’s Scholarship programme and she started her career in the Board’s IT department.
“I was tasked with handling one of the biggest online systems in Singapore back then. The system is so vast that at any one time, there are 130 ‘mini-systems’ going on,” she reveals.
“I also had a pager and had to be on standby around the clock in case an issue crops up which I have to fix.”
Her experience in the IT Department had given her a good appreciation of the complexity of computer algorithms and the importance of working in teams in supporting the CPF processes and prepared her well for her subsequent role.
Regular, dynamic job rotations
April is now a Manager in the Policy Department where she manages and initiates CPF policy reviews, after having successfully completed her stints in IT Department and Strategic Planning Department.
“We deal with a lot of time-critical matters and sometimes have to work late into the night to resolve policy issues. I really enjoy the dynamic pace,” she says.
In fact, regular job rotations are quite commonplace in the Board which allow scholars to gain more management development experience. The different postings which April experienced had honed her ability to evaluate issues from multiple perspectives.
“The management would likely give you more roles and responsibilities because they believe you have the attitude and ability to excel. I guess that’s part and parcel of being a scholar. However, you also get more leadership development exposure and career advancement opportunities,” says April.
Good to be a scholar
Fellow scholar Chen Yanying was able to enjoy a boatload of opportunities with the CPF Board’s Scholarship Programme
“I went for an exchange programme in the UK for one semester during my second year in NUS. The trip was wholly sponsored by the CPF Board,” the 26-year-old says with a smile.
For the Economics major, her interest in the organisation was piqued when she came across the CPF Board scholarship while voraciously flipping through magazines and newspapers to read about the different scholarships out there.
Despite being shortlisted for several scholarships, she chose to sign on with the CPF Board because she identified with its mission of serving Singaporeans and helping to shape Singapore’s retirement policies.
Planning policies for the people
Yanying currently works in the Research Department, which studies the behaviour of CPF members, income utilisation patterns, and its impact on income security.
The Department also scans the global environment for best practices in income security systems.
Yanying is upbeat about her current posting at the Research Department.
“When policies are designed, certain assumptions have to be made about how the beneficiaries of those policies would behave. With time, some of the assumptions may no longer hold true. It is then the Research Department’s job to validate the relevance of those assumptions in light of updated data,” she says.
Both April and Yanying agree that the working culture in the CPF Board is wonderful and has exceeded their expectations.
“The work culture here is very good. Visitors to our office always marvel at how family-like and harmonious the work atmosphere is. It’s very nice to know that we can work so well together,” April gushes.
Yanying agrees wholeheartedly.
“It helps as our management is very encouraging and open-minded. They are open to taking out questions. It’s a great place to be because you can be yourself,” she concludes with a grin.