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BUILDING HIGH PERFORMANCE TEAMS AND A STRONG MAS FAMILY
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Box Story 13

The One MAS Family

“I joined MAS 12 years ago, in 1998. I probably blend so thoroughly into the MAS 'mould' that people may think I joined as a trainee officer and was 'born and bred' MAS. In fact, MAS was my third job, and I was once a mid career recruit. In 1998, I probably bordered on being a job-hopper, having spent only one to two years in each of my previous jobs. But it was third time lucky, and I found a fit in MAS.

It was strange but the moment I started out in MAS, it just felt 'right'. I was energised by the level of intellectual debate and the calibre of the people I worked with. There were clear shared values and I felt that it was a place I could grow and develop, and where I could belong.

Over the years, I have moved from legal work, to policy, to financial sector development and now capital markets. I must say sometimes I feel like I am not allowed to stop learning. Indeed, learning new skills and new domain knowledge is both stimulating and challenging. It means I'm never bored, but also that I can never cruise. It also means plenty of opportunities to learn about myself and appreciate my own strengths and weaknesses, while valuing the strengths of others.

The things that keep me going are the people, the shared values and the intellectual stimulation that comes with every challenge. These were never so intensely felt as in the recent economic crisis. If not for the people, and the shared values and mission that bond us, we surely would not have navigated the crisis so well. Our people are resilient and they take pride in their work. In the midst of the crisis, someone asked me whether this was the worst time to be a regulator. After some reflection, my answer was that to the contrary, it was the best time to be a regulator, for that was the moment when what we did counted the most. I believe many of us share that same quiet pride, even if we don't always articulate it.”

- Loo Siew Yee (Capital Markets Department)

“Since joining MAS as a Trainee Officer in August 2004, I often struggled for words when people ask me about my job responsibilities as a banking regulator because of the many roles we are performing. Imagine telling them that you are essentially a compliance officer, auditor, risk manager and relationship manager rolled into one. These do not yet include our other roles in rules and policy formulation. Of course, the recent financial crisis helped me to better articulate my responsibilities in a very concise statement. I am a small part of a very big team that helped maintain the safety and soundness of Singapore's financial sector during the financial crisis.”

- George Ong (Complex Institutions Department)

“I have been with MAS since 1999 and have witnessed the changes in the working environment within the organisation. When I first joined, the culture was similar to what people would perceive of a public sector organisation, full of ‘red tape’ and where most people may not be open to sharing. However, this has changed over the years and departments now interact and share information more readily in the various work groups. To add to that, my views have been sought! In my years in MAS, I was also given the opportunity to pick up new and interesting knowledge, and be exposed to networks outside of MAS such as the other ministries.”

- Stephanie Kok (Strategic Planning Office)

“I have been with Consumer Issues Division (CSI) for the past five years. The work at CSI is varied. I am part of the team that interacts with consumers who approach MAS with their complaints against financial institutions. I also help to implement initiatives to raise consumer knowledge of financial products through the MoneySENSE national financial education programme.

My interaction with consumers requires soft skills such as empathy, a listening ear, patience, and an inquiring mind. In addition, hard skills are also needed in terms of knowledge of the financial products consumers are complaining on, as well as the ability to analyse and determine the crux of consumers’ concerns based on the information provided. I have also learnt to detect non-verbal cues of consumers such as frustration and to react to these cues appropriately.

One important aspect of my work is in explaining to consumers what MAS’ role is with respect to the resolution of consumer disputes against financial institutions. It was especially challenging during the global financial crisis when many consumers approached MAS after their investments declined sharply in value or their credit-linked structured notes defaulted or were redeemed early.

But this is more than made up for by being able to assist consumers who genuinely need help in resolving their concerns or disputes with financial institutions. I also take satisfaction in working on financial education initiatives to address consumers’ knowledge gaps of financial products, knowing that they would benefit from these initiatives.”

- Tan Chee Khiang (Investment Intermediaries Department)

“My association with MAS began in 2002 when I received an undergraduate scholarship to read Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford. I joined the Financial Centre Development department briefly in 2004 as an intern, and started work as an Economist in 2006.

My work is a balance of current analysis, quantitative research and policy work. I provide forecasts and reports on the manufacturing, trade and transportation sectors, which ultimately feed into the monetary policy process. The recent crisis outlined starkly how various sectors in the economy were linked to each other, as well as with the rest of the world. It made the analysis of the underlying drivers more complex and challenging. It has been an exciting time as an economist - to stay one step ahead of a global economy that has both collapsed and rebounded, and to try to make sense of all the surrounding uncertainty. ”

- Koh Tsin Zhen (Economic Surveillance and Forecasting Department)

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