Military Expert 4 (ME4) Ho Yan Jin gained more than just an engineering career with the SAF. As an officer in the 808 Squadron, she leads and develops a team while serving with purpose in defending Singapore’s airspace.
Did you originally plan on having a career in the MINDEF/SAF?
In school, I enjoyed maths and science the most, so I saw myself doing engineering as a career. Joining MINDEF/SAF did not cross my mind until I attended a career talk in my first year of Junior College, and subsequently the MINDEF Experience Programme. I was inspired by the officers who shared at the career talk and felt very motivated by the experience I had in the programme.
Tell us more about your current role, day-to-day responsibilities and challenges.
As an officer in 808 Squadron, I lead a team in maintaining the F-16D+ fighter aircraft to ensure that the aircraft is operationally ready. This includes putting engineering skills into use when troubleshooting defects, and also people skills to lead my team effectively.
The job is dynamic and challenging – I need to adapt quickly to changing situations and make effective decisions.
How has a career in MINDEF/SAF changed your life and/or thinking?
Joining MINDEF/SAF taught me to appreciate the peace we enjoy and sometimes take for granted in Singapore. The threats that Singapore faces are real and we need to continue defending our homeland.
MINDEF/SAF also gave me the opportunity to pursue my university studies overseas, allowed me to learn strong engineering fundamentals, work with people from diverse backgrounds and explore the world.
How is the MINDF/SAF career a rewarding one?
It is rewarding because I get to lead and develop people, while also pursuing my passion for engineering. I find meaning and purpose in answering the higher calling of national defence.
How have you impacted lives as an SAF officer?
A part of my role as an SAF officer is to lead and help my team members.
I had a team member who took up additional workload when other team members were away on medical leave or course. I could see his efforts and his positive attitude, so I recommended him for the Squadron’s Best Airman of the Month. Although he was not the most eloquent, I helped to prepare him for the interview and eventually he won the award. It may seem trivial, but he shared that he was thankful that he was recognised for his efforts, and I was glad to see that it motivated him to do even better at work.
What is the most memorable moment in your career?
Completing my Military Domain Expert Course (MDEC). It was a milestone for me that marked the official beginning of my career. I felt relieved when I completed my training phase and obtained good results but also daunted about starting my first tour at an operational unit.
What keeps you motivated at work?
The people keep me motivated, especially when work gets tough. My team and my peers go through challenges together.
What makes a good, effective leader?
A good, effective leader must be able to motivate and inspire others to achieve a common goal or mission. He or she must also be humble enough to learn.
What do you aim to improve/achieve as an SAF officer?
I aim to lead and develop people to work on the next-generation fighter aircraft in the future, and to contribute in building up our capabilities.
What have you learnt from your MINDEF/SAF career?
I have learnt to consider different perspectives when dealing with issues or making decisions. This has helped me to see things from a broader perspective, allowing me to empathise with others better and ultimately make better decisions.
What’s your advice to aspiring scholars who wish to embark on a military career?
I would advise them to take time to understand the career they are considering. With the right understanding and mindset, an SAF career can be rewarding and purposeful, although the path may be fraught with challenges.
ME4 HO YAN JIN
Officer, 808 Squadron, Republic of Singapore Air Force
Recipient of The SAF Engineering Scholarship, 2016
Master of Engineering in Aeronautical Engineering, Imperial College London