A Fine Balancing Act

Heng Shiru

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) continues to pursue its mission of developing a productive workforce and progressive workplaces, and one MOM Manager’s aim is to help Singaporeans like you and I achieve the delicate act of work-life harmony.

By Edmund Wang

In her four years studying at the National University of Singapore (NUS) as a Psychology student, Heng Shiru was unsure of her true calling. But one thing was remarkably clear to her: her future occupation would see her working to better the lives of Singaporeans.

And when considering a future career in the Civil Service, the cheerful and gregarious 25-year-old looked no further than MOM. Shiru believes the organisation’s ideals and the nature of its work to be compatible with her personality, and she decided to commit herself to MOM’s mission of helping Singaporeans attain better jobs and eventually, a healthy, secure retirement.

“When the opportunity to be part of MOM came up, I thought, ‘Why not give it a try?’ After all, I resonated strongly with the core principles of the Ministry. Even though I have been here for only a year, it’s turning out to be one of the best decisions in my life!” says Shiru.

Shiru also considers MOM to have an extremely familial work environment, living up to its vision of being a Great Workplace. “My colleagues are terribly helpful and often give me advice, even for work that is not under their purview! We also have regular badminton and Pilates sessions together!” adds Shiru.

As a Manager (Tripartite Programmes), what are some of your responsibilities? Walk us through a day at work.

Heng Shiru: My work involves the active promotion and development of specific tripartite programmes designed to enhance progressive employment practices, such as work-life harmony. Work-life harmony is an oft-discussed topic but it is also one of the most difficult issues to deal with, given that it is still not a priority for employers amidst the many other challenges they may face in the labour market.

At MOM, we work closely with the employers and unions – our tripartite partners, to promote work-life harmony and their support is invaluable to us. I sincerely hope my work will help every Singaporean achieve their work-life needs, which I feel is of paramount importance. When an event receives great feedback from the participants, or when a funding scheme comes to fruition, I feel immensely proud of my work! This fuels my pride for my job and drives my passion to do even more.

Share with us a highlight during your time at MOM.

Shiru: My first overseas work trip to attend a Work-Life Conference in the US earlier this year was a blast! There was a lot of work involved beforehand such as seeking approval and scheduling various overseas meetings, but I got to share my learning experiences with the team and management upon my return and I gained a lot more from the exposure and interaction with overseas practitioners.

What are some challenges you face at work?

Shiru: My colleagues are so proficient in and familiar with their work, and this is a ‘good’ problem for me! Working at MOM has helped trained me to think faster and comprehend matters on the fly, and being new in the job does have its perks as I can provide a fresh and different perspective on topics, such as work-life harmony.

I’ve also gained competency along the way from my fellow colleagues and bosses. It is heart-warming to know that I can always count on the support, guidance and mentorship of my teammates.

What kind of training and learning opportunities has MOM provided to you?

Shiru: There are many opportunities for learning in MOM and my supervisor has also allowed me to explore other areas of work, like organising and participating in various tripartite activities, such as the Singapore Tripartism Forum (STF) and the annual Tripartite Golf Friendly.

I also have ‘co-curricular activities’ in MOM, such as being a member of the Social Development Committee and helping to set up a booth to display our Design Thinking project for our MOM’s Innovation Carnival. All these have contributed to diversity in my work scope and made for a more holistic work environment.

What are you future plans, career or otherwise?

Shiru: I am only a year into my position at MOM but I am keen on learning as much as I can from my supervisors and colleagues. Every day is a new learning experience for me – I even keep a little notebook to document the important ‘lessons’ that I think can be applied anywhere, not just MOM. The skills I have acquired here will stand me in good stead, wherever I may go in the future.

What advice would you have for aspiring degree applicants considering a career with MOM?

Shiru: Passion! You have to find joy in helping others, and with this in mind, you’ll hardly find a better place than at MOM. Being enthusiastic about your work and never giving up even when meeting with challenges are good qualities for candidates considering a career with MOM. After all, true competency will only come with experience and the willingness to learn, and nowhere is this truer than at MOM.

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