Singapore's picturesque urban landscape and pleasant living environment did not come by easily. Playing a large part in enhancing Singapore's vibrancy and ensuring its sustainability is the Ministry of National Development (MND). It was this unique role that the ministry played that led Jerome Lau to embark on a career with MND.
Shaping Housing Policies
Jerome's interest in the public service sector started during his university days. He was a student at the National University of Singapore (NUS) where he pursued a Bachelor of Social Sciences in Economics. There, he gained the knowledge and skills to evaluate public policies, which helped to broaden his perspective on social issues. Jerome yearned for a career where he could contribute to the development of these policies and improve the lives of people.
The opportunity came during his final year in university. "MND invited students to an engagement session with the directors and staff of various divisions at the ministry. Through the engaging conversations, I was able to better understand the work that the ministry does, and the impact it has on people's lives."
Jerome was particularly interested in shaping Singapore's public housing policies. "Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats are unique icons of Singapore's landscape. They are not just basic shelters, but quality homes," explains Jerome. "HDB flats are spaces where people, regardless of race, language or religion, live together and create shared memories. They promote a sense of belonging."
Today, Jerome is part of the Housing Division's Home Ownership Team at MND, where he oversees the supply and pricing of new HDB flats, housing grants and priority schemes as well as policies affecting the HDB resale market. "A typical work day involves reviewing a policy, preparing a paper or presentation, evaluating an appeal case, or crafting messages to communicate our policies to the general public," says Jerome.
Jerome Lau Yong Liang
Manager, Housing (Market)
One significant highlight of Jerome's career was being involved in the formulation of the Proximity Housing Grant, from conceptualisation to implementation. The Proximity Housing Grant, which encourages families to live closer for mutual care and support, was introduced at the National Day Rally in 2015. "Working on it from its public consultation phase, where we organised a series of discussion sessions on "closer families, stronger ties", to its formulation, and finally to its implementation and communication to the public, was an eye-opening and fulfilling experience," describes Jerome.
He excitedly added that he has been given the opportunity to think and work independently on policy reviews before presenting proposals to management. "This has helped to make me more confident."
However, as with every job, working at MND has its unique set of challenges. Jerome can attest to that. His responsibilities may sound straightforward but Jerome shares that they are not as simple as they seem.
One such challenge is balancing competing needs and its trade-offs such as the needs and interests of homebuyers and homeowners when working on housing policies. He says, "Policy work requires us to be able to see the big picture, think long-term, and consider multiple perspectives. As our policies will impact people's lives, I feel a sense of responsibility that pushes me to think critically to cater to the needs of various parties. This is a skill I am actively working on."
A Welcoming Environment
Despite these challenges, Jerome is grateful for dependable colleagues and supportive bosses. "Teams often come together to discuss and debate ideas, and the bosses are open to hearing different views and proposals," he shares. "In addition to that, my bosses take an interest in my personal and professional development, encouraging me to develop my own strengths and competencies."
Going forward, Jerome seeks to improve his skills in formulating policies and working with different stakeholders. His long-term dream is to contribute more towards making Singapore a better home for everyone. "I also hope to gain knowledge in different areas of MND's work in order to broaden my perspectives and better understand the challenges and opportunities Singapore has in the area of housing," says Jerome.
Jerome highly recommends students who want to pursue a career with purpose and meaning to embark on a journey with MND. "MND provides diverse opportunities for you to play a part in making Singapore an endearing home and a distinctive global city. However, it is still important to build on your personal strengths and interests as these will sustain your career and individual development."