PSD: MAP Your Future As A Leader

The Management Associates Programme in the Singapore Civil Service offers talented public officers the opportunity to tackle diverse challenges and address complex issues that impact Singapore and Singaporeans.

By Tricia Chan

Most accountancy graduates want a successful career at the major accountancy firms. After completing his studies, Chin Chee Kiat started work at one of these firms as a tax analyst. But he wanted more from his work.

“I didn’t want just any 9-to-5 job. I only did the filing of tax returns, and that was it. What then is the purpose of my job?” says Chee Kiat.

Armed with a strong desire to contribute to society, Chee Kiat joined the Public Service as a Management Associate in 2003. He has since had the opportunity to work on significant issues with national impact, such as tackling the SARS crisis, early in his career.

“As Management Associates, we are given many opportunities to develop policies that will have a huge impact on the people around us, on the country,” he says. “I see it as something very meaningful that I want to be part of.”

Developing Talent

The Management Associates Programme (MAP) is the premier talent development programme that prepares young men and women in the Singapore Civil Service for a challenging public service career. During the programme, they will develop a deeper understanding of public governance and acquire skills in public administration. Management Associates start off at one Ministry for two years, after which they are posted to a different Ministry for another two years. At the end of the programme, Management Associates who perform well will be invited to join the Administrative Service, a premium scheme of service which grooms and develops the next generation of public service leaders.

Chee Kiat entered the MAP through an open recruitment drive, where top graduates are assessed based on their academic results, leadership potential and passion for public service. He joined the Ministry of Manpower and subsequently, the Ministry of Education (MOE). Today, the 31-year-old is an Assistant Director of Corporate Finance at the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

Gain New Perspectives

Management Associate Fu Shufen chose a more specialised path within MOE. She became passionate about a career in education after a relief teaching stint following her ‘A’ levels. A Public Service Commission Teaching Scholar, Shufen graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in History which led her to obtaining a master’s degree in Education. She embarked on her first posting under the MAP as a History and Social Studies teacher.

“It was the most difficult thing I ever had to do,” Shufen says. “It really took a lot of effort to get the kids to like me, and then to improve their work. I found the experience fulfilling and I really liked it.”

After her two-and-a-half year stint as a teacher, Shufen now works at MOE headquarters as part of her second posting under the MAP. This has given her the opportunity to explore another aspect of education – policy-making.

“Being a teacher, it’s possible to get quite myopic and become bogged down by the details of daily work,” says Shufen. “At the ministry headquarters, you’re in a different environment. You learn a different perspective.”

A Fulfilling Career

“One of the attractions of the Public Service is that it invests a lot in the training and development of its officers,” Chee Kiat says.
Management Associates go through rigorous training and development programmes that prepare them for complex situations and multi-faceted challenges. Apart from a three-month foundation course, they also attend policy forums and seminars, and take part in cross-ministry projects.

One such project which Shufen participated in was the recent Skills Programme for Upgrading and Resilience (SPUR) initiative. She has gained an appreciation of the macro issues faced by the Government and broadened her perspectives, becoming a more well-rounded public officer.

Management Associates can also look forward to being mentored by Administrative Officers, as well as Deputy Secretaries and Permanent Secretaries. “The doors of the offices of the senior management, our bosses, are always open,” Chee Kiat says. “We are free to consult them, reach out to them, and seek their advice. This is something I appreciate a lot – being able to approach the senior management directly to get their advice when I need it.”

For Chee Kiat, Shufen and many others, being on the MAP programme has been rewarding, with many opportunities for growth, new challenges to overcome and the chance to be a leader in the Singapore Civil Service.

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