Behind Every Housing Block & Unit is a Story of Dedication

Of the thousands of stories about the extraordinary team of people behind Singapore’s public housing authority, this story belongs to HDB Scholar Elaine Goh. Currently an executive estate manager at the Housing & Development Board (HDB), Elaine takes pride in applying her statistics and economics expertise in her work to add value to the nation’s public housing scene and improve the lives of Singaporeans. Learn more about her journey, growth, and development opportunities with the HDB scholarship.

Shaping Singapore’s Public Housing Landscape

My friends from university come from all over the world; we often share our experiences growing up in different countries under different systems. One thing that always stands out about Singapore is our public housing.

It is impressive that an organisation can provide quality homes for 80 per cent of a country’s population! HDB flats permeate Singapore’s landscape. It may be so ubiquitous that we take it for granted sometimes, but behind every block and every unit is the work of thousands of people—work that spans the areas of planning, designing, and building to administration, maintenance, market analyses, and policymaking. 

I am constantly excited to be a part of this team that continues to shape our public housing landscape. Within my few years in HDB, I have had the privilege of learning and value-adding to Singapore’s public housing scene in countless ways.

On-The-Ground Experience

I spent the first two years understanding the ins and outs of the resale market. I processed resale and appeal cases and held seminars and talks with buyers, sellers, and estate agents to understand the market. At the frontline, I found myself in high-pressure situations when serving customers, some of whom had met with unfortunate circumstances. For example, if buyers are unexpectedly unable to afford a flat that they had committed to, it would require quick thinking and problem-solving skills to bring them through their options amidst their anxiety. Such interpersonal and communication skills gained from interacting with individuals from all walks of life have been useful as I moved on to other projects and portfolios involving different stakeholders.

Operational Efficiency and Planning

Apart from working on-the-ground, I also worked with various teams to improve information communication and user experience in our digital offerings. I was involved in developing the HDB Flat Portal, which enables buyers and sellers to access resale and purchase information on HDB flats on a single integrated platform. Among its features are Build-To-Order flat listings and customised financial calculators for buyers to check their budget and payment plan and for sellers to estimate their sale proceeds. I also streamlined our operations, which was a top priority, especially with the increase in resale transactions in the last few years. We even employ machine learning methods to replace manual work, maximising our resources! To me, to be able to fully utilise my technical statistical knowledge and R coding skills to improve processes for both customers and the organisation is greatly rewarding.

Policy Development

In my current role in policy development, I review and formulate policies to address the ever-changing needs of society. These include studying policies from different perspectives and applying rigorous statistical methods to analyse their impact. An example would be the Prime Location Public Housing (PLH) model. If left solely to market forces, it is likely that only the better-off would be able to afford housing in prime locations, given their attractive locations and attributes. Hence, after extensive public engagement and evaluation, the team designed the PLH model to keep public housing in prime locations affordable, accessible, and inclusive for Singaporeans. Such policies have long-term and far-reaching implications for the housing market and our social fabric. It is indeed an honour to have my work impact the welfare of Singaporeans.

The HDB Scholarship

I am grateful for the HDB scholarship as it has provided me with many coveted opportunities, contributing not only to HDB’s mission but also to my personal growth and development. My strong foundation in statistics and economics, exposure to different cultures during my studies, and the dynamic work environment of HDB have empowered me to swiftly adapt to tackle various challenges in today’s data-driven and fast-changing world. If you desire a meaningful and fulfilling career, apply for the HDB scholarship and join me in shaping our country’s housing landscape!

HDB Undergraduate Scholarship
Master of Science (Statistical Science), University of Oxford;
Bachelor of Science (Statistics, Economics, and Finance), University College London
Now: Executive Estate Manager, Estate Administration & Property Group, Housing & Development Board (HDB)
From: Raffles Institution (Junior College)