Warfighters. Trainers. Leaders

Second Sergeant (2SG) Govind

Third Sergeant (3SG) Irene Leong

A career with the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) offers the chance to enjoy numerous opportunities for personal development, as well as experience an exciting and varied life through a variety of challenging appointments. We speak to 2SG Govind and 3SG Irene, who share with us how they have used their leadership and decision-making skills to add value to the lives of their peers and the men they lead.

By Png Han Yong

Tell us about your interest in defending the nation, and how it came about – was there a particular incident or observation that sparked this interest?

2SG Govind: I first developed an interest in defending the nation while being part of the National Cadet Corps back in secondary school. I also enjoyed how my friends and I were able to bond through the various trainings, and decided to take up the challenge of pursuing a military career upon graduation.

3SG Irene: My interest in defending the nation came about when I attended a dialogue session where senior commanders shared their overseas deployment experiences with me. Through their personal experiences, I realised how a military career would enable me to protect the nation and my loved ones, and at the same time expose me to a myriad of opportunities and unique experiences. With that in mind, I took up the JPSDS (Joint Polytechnic SAF Diploma Scheme) and have never looked back since.

Share with us some highlights during your time with the SAF and why they were so memorable.

2SG Govind: I took part in the SAF Day parade and Army Open House in 2012. The experience of going through the required trainings and preparations together with my platoon enabled us to forge close ties and obtain great memories which I still retain till this day.

3SG Irene: My 21st birthday fell during our Basic Military Training. I remember lying on my bed in the bunk after a long and dirty day of training when my buddies surprised me with a bowl of hotpot. I was very touched by this gesture, especially since they had to do jumping jacks and push-ups in order to get the hotpot for me from our sergeants!

Having been with the SAF for some time now, what are some challenges you’ve faced at work?

2SG Govind: Challenges are met and dealt with every day. I believe that it is simply a matter of how one confronts the situation and derives a suitable solution. One common challenge I face at work would be punctuality. I always take the initiative to educate my men on the importance of punctuality and its impact in their daily lives, even after they leave the military.

3SG Irene: In the SAF, military personnel are regularly being posted in and out of various units. This means that I have to quickly get used to the new working styles of any new colleagues and superiors who are posted to my unit. By staying positive and flexible, I have learnt to adapt and have even been able to pick up new skills and gain valuable experience while on the job.

How have you grown through your time with the SAF?

2SG Govind: I feel that I have matured and grown more confident as an individual. It was only after enlisting and serving the nation that I realised I could achieve things beyond my limits. For example, I never thought I could survive the rough climate and living conditions while staying outfield over extended periods of time, but I have come to realise that I can achieve anything if I put my heart into it.

3SG Irene: My physical and mental endurance level has definitely increased. I’m now able to undergo and complete the same type of training as the rest of the men, as well as efficiently perform duties under pressure for a longer period of time. The trainings and lessons in the SAF have also moulded me into a more mature person, who is able to better communicate with my family and friends.

How have your Diplomas helped you in your daily work?

2SG Govind: It has prepared me to deal with the various duties and responsibilities that I undertake at work. Having dealt with the tremendous academic workload in school, I feel that I am more mentally prepared for the challenges of the working world, particularly those posed in the military environment.

3SG Irene: My academic experience has taught me to prioritise and organise my work methodically, which allows me to work more efficiently. I am also able to work well under stress, having been exposed to such conditions during my course of study.

Lastly, what advice would you give to graduates considering a career with the SAF?

2SG Govind: A good leader also has to be a good follower. Leadership qualities aside, commitment to the job is also very important. Possessing a strong sense of belonging is crucial for integration into the close-knit family that is the SAF.

3SG Irene: Start prepping yourself both physically and mentally because trainings can be very demanding in the SAF. It is also important to be prepared for the many commitments and responsibilities you will have to undertake in the future. Though the SAF may seem challenging, it is a place where you will get to experience things that cannot be experienced in other organisations!

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