All Set to Make a Greater Impact

Scholarship Guide NEA New Scholar Chew Li Hong

With the National Environment & Water Scholarship (now known as the Singapore Sustainability Scholarship), Chew Li Hong hopes to give back after graduating.

Why Did You Choose the National Environment & Water (NEW) Scholarship?

The values of the agencies offering the scholarship resonated with me. I wanted to be part of an organisation’s mission where I can make a positive impact on people’s everyday lives. Certainly, the opportunity to study abroad, to challenge myself in a foreign environment, was attractive too. At that age, I wanted to experience living outside of Singapore to broaden my perspectives.

What Course Did You Graduate in and Why Did You Choose This Discipline?

I pursued a Diplôme d’Ingénieur in Materials Science and Engineering from the Institut National des Sciences Appliquées de Lyon in France, followed by a Master’s degree in Environment and Sustainable Development at University College London, UK. Like many other 18-year-olds, I was not entirely sure about what I wanted to do. I chose to study engineering as it was a subject that is broad yet applicable to so many fields.

During my undergraduate studies, I worked on projects and sought internships opportunities that were related to the topics on sustainability. I did a research project on applications in carbon capture during my year in Stockholm, and another project on valorising waste from the wood pulp industry in Sweden. Through these stints, I decided that I wanted to have a more holistic education in the area of sustainable development. Hence I chose to pursue a MSc in Environment and Sustainable Development in University College London, UK where I learned about how the world works, how the social and environmental change is inextricably linked, and how power relations shape the environment we live in.

Share With Us Your Working Experience in NEA. What Are Some of the Notable Projects That You Are Currently Working On or Have Worked On?

I had the opportunity to work in the Resource Conservation Department (RCD) and Environment Technology Department (ETD) over the span of 3 years in NEA. In both departments, I have been involved in various processes, which are essential to programme planning and supporting policy-making.

I am currently working as an Engineer at the Environment Technology Department (ETD), supporting the team’s work in research & development management. My role there includes mapping the local environmental R&D eco-system, as well as taking stock of the various R&D projects, and capabilities. I am also involved in the formulation of NEA’s Intellectual Property (IP) Policy, which will help NEA actively manage our growing IP portfolio more holistically. The work in ETD exposes me to a wide variety of topics, from the environmental landscape to the digital landscape, and it is interesting to know what multi-disciplinary sustainability work entails.

Prior to this, I was with the Resource Conservation Department (RCD) where I worked on a wide range of work and had the opportunities to work with partners on promoting industrial energy efficiency. I was part of the planning team for the Energy Efficiency National Partnership (EENP), and we oversaw an incentive scheme to encourage industrial companies to implement energy efficiency improvement measures. We also organised the annual EENP Awards and conference. I was also working on a few key and interesting projects, such as the development of the Energy Efficiency Technology Centre (EETC), which provided me the opportunity to collaborate with partners like the Singapore Institute of Technology and SkillsFuture Singapore, to ensure the successful implementation of the programme.  I was also involved in planning and implementing the Energy Efficiency Opportunities (EEO) Assessors Certification Scheme, which supports the legislative requirement of the enhanced Energy Conservation Act.  I had the chance to work with different agencies and stakeholders of industrial and energy services companies. This gave me the opportunity to better appreciate their challenges and broaden my perspectives.

Besides my core work, I was appointed as liaison officer for an international event where I was exposed to the area of international relations and I had the opportunities to get to know the foreign delegates on a more personal basis. I recalled playing host to a delegate of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).  I also worked with other officers from NEA more closely, which I see as an important opportunity to establish networks, and better understand the work of other divisions at the same time.  I felt a sense of fulfilment to be part of a well-executed event.

What Do You Enjoy About Working in NEA?

Working in NEA allows me to interact with a diverse group of people, both within and outside the public sector. NEA’s work touches many aspects of Singaporeans’ lives. It is interesting to understand every stakeholder’s role and contributions in advancing sustainability, and I am constantly learning something new or gaining fresh perspectives. Colleagues in NEA are down-to-earth people, for which I am very grateful.

What Advice Can You Give To Aspiring Scholars Who Are Considering Taking the NEW Scholarship?

Talk to the people working at NEA, PUB, or MEWR, as well as the working scholars at various stages of their career. Understand yourself, motivations and aspirations. Expect change and challenges along the way.

Singapore Sustainability Scholarship (Previously known as NEW Scholarship)
Attained: Masters in Science in Environment and Sustainable Development, University College London, UK
Now: Engineer, Technology & Systems Integration Division, Environment Technology Department
From: Hwa Chong Institution

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