Last updated: 13 March 2023
Published on: 10 March 2016
5 MINS READ
We catch up with Ms Tan Siew Hong, senior consultant with IDA, to chat what she loves about her career and her life philosophy.
Prioritise, weigh the importance of different demands, and draw strength from the family’s understanding and support.
And this is how Ms Tan Siew Hong, senior consultant with the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore’s Government Infrastructure Group (GIG), has managed to strike a balance as she tackles the challenge of becoming “a better self” — both in her career and at home.
Ms Tan’s work involves providing the solution architecture, design and delivery of network infrastructure projects for both the Whole-of-Government (WOG) and agencies.
She joined IDA in 2006 after a 6 years-stint as a Solution Specialist in the private sector.
At that time, a career in the public sector had seemed like an exciting prospect, and she was also curious about the Singapore ICT masterplan (Intelligent Nation 2015) that IDA was spearheading at the time.
There would be avenues for her to participate and contribute to society, she felt.
It proved to be all that and more; over time, she found even more reasons to love her job.
“It has been really rewarding to work with the people you respect and trust and whom you know will work hard, stay with you despite the differing opinions, and support you in difficult and challenging situations,” she said.
In the course of her work, she has had the opportunity to work with – and learn from – both internal people such as management and colleagues, as well as external parties such as the service providers.
“You know that these are the people whom you can really learn from, the things that textbooks won’t be able to teach you.”
She has, for example, seen first-hand how the IDA management team sets an example by leading from the front, giving firm directions on objectives and goals, while assigning the right resources to each task and creating opportunities for the staff to take on challenging but interesting projects.
“This really helped us develop and improve our skillsets and discover capabilities that we initially thought we did not have. This is a big reason why I have never regretted joining the government sector,” she said.
Among the highlights of Ms Tan’s career with IDA thus far has been to develop the solution architecture and to design and deliver the central backend network infrastructure services for both the WOG ICT infrastructure programme and the Standard Operating Environment.
It helps that she has a very strong pillar at the backend, in the form of family support.
In balancing career and family, the bubbly Ms Tan tries to complete most of her work-related tasks during the week.
An occasional afternoon hi-tea session with female colleagues helps her to get away from work and unwind. Friday night is “chill-out time” with her husband, when indulging in desserts after dinner helps her clear any tension or stress.
And when the weekend swings around, she unwinds by spending “cuddling time” with her kids, now aged 5 and 9, without having to worry about work.
But keeping the balance is not always easy.
She recalled one period when she was attached to a critical, high-impact project with a very tight timeline, and had much less time for her children during one particular month.
True to her 'can do' spirit, she did her best despite the trying circumstances.
“There were pressures coming from both my work and family, so I weighed the priorities and importance, and made some adjustments after discussing with my family,” she said.
The understanding and support from the family was critical, she said, and everything turned out well in the end.
“The project was a success, and now I have more time to spend with my kids than before.”
Ms Tan’s personal life philosophy is to think simple and live life simply, which has helped her to overcome challenges without losing her optimism.
She added: “Be gracious, be content and be grateful for what we already have. There is so much beauty and happiness in the smallest things in our everyday life. When we seek, we shall find!”
And she looks forward to coming to work at IDA every day.
“I would definitely love to continue to build my career here because of the people, working conditions and breadth of opportunities available,” she said.