04 December 2014

What does it take to be a National Human Resource scholar?

04 December 2014

What comes to mind if you are a Human Resources (HR) professional? Most will associate a HR job to managing salary issues (and bonuses!), errant employees (or even bosses!), medical and transport claims, and training. 

But HR management is so much more than that. The role of HR management is changing in business and is increasingly key to business success.  A HR professional contributes to an organisation through understanding the organisation’s business and its future plans, and then recruiting, engaging and grooming the right people to achieve these goals. At the staff level, a HR professional helps employees fulfil their career potential by identifying and providing for their training needs.    

Growing a local talent pool of HR professionals requires not only an education system which supports such vocations, but also an overall learning environment that allows HR professionals to take a hands-on approach in gaining practical experience. That is why MOM and our industry partners started the National HR Scholarship in 2011 to groom young HR talent in Singapore. Over the years, we have partnered organisations such as healthcare company Eu Yan Sang, telecommunications giant SingTel, HR consultancy Aon Hewitt, F&B company The Soup Spoon, and fragrance and beauty brands distributer Luxasia, just to name a few, to offer sponsorship for the education and development of Singaporeans who will eventually pursue HR careers with their sponsoring organisations.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary Hawazi Daipi with this year’s National HR Scholarship recipients
Wonder what it takes to be a National HR scholar? We spoke to one of the 2014 scholarship recipients, Daryl Tan, a third-year student with Nanyang Technological University’s acclaimed Nanyang Business School, who will be joining Hyflux Limited after graduating.

Daryl, far left, was an intern at the National Human Capital Office this year.
 Daryl, who was also an intern at MOM this year, took time off his overseas exchange in Spain to tell us about what he finds interesting in HR and his experience working at MOM. He even has some tips for aspiring National HR scholars!

1. Tell us about yourself.

I am currently a Year 3 student majoring in Human Resource Management at Nanyang Business School.

I love eating and in my free time, I enjoy looking for places with affordable and delicious food. Another lifelong passion is playing and watching soccer. It is my favourite sport as not only does it keep me fit, it has also enabled me to make many like-minded friends, some of whom I consider my closest friends today.

2. When did you first consider HR as a career and what was it about the industry that appealed to you?

I first considered HR as a career during my first year at Nanyang Business School when I had to choose my specialisation.

I have always enjoyed working with others and I realised through my part-time job as a tutor that I derive great satisfaction from helping others to improve. Coupled with my interest in subjects such as Organisational Behaviour, I felt inclined towards a career as a HR professional.

I was also attracted to the increasingly strategic role that HR plays in businesses – from an administrative supporting function to a key driver of organisational effectiveness and business performance. It confirms my personal belief that the best strategies cannot achieve its goals without the right people to execute it.

3. How did you first come to know about the National HR Scholarship? What made you decide to apply for the scholarship? Which of the National HR Scholarship industry partners were you most looking forward to working with?

I was first informed of the scholarship by an email sent out by my school.

I saw the scholarship, which offered a HR career in local SMEs, as a valuable opportunity to develop myself as a HR professional. By joining an SME instead of a MNC, I felt that I would be able to better appreciate the stages and challenges of growing a company and make more direct and tangible contributions to the company’s development, as well as Singapore’s economy, especially since SMEs employ quite a big portion Singapore’s workforce.

I also felt spoilt for choice with seven industry partners to choose from, each a leader in its own field.

4. Tell us more about what you did as an intern at MOM. What was the most valuable lesson you took away from the internship experience?

I interned with the National Human Capital Office in MOM, which works to raise the profile of the HR profession and build strong HR capabilities in Singapore. In the long run, the office aims to make Singapore a global exemplar (in Asia and beyond) in human capital management.

I was involved in a variety of initiatives to improve the National HR scholarship and engage the current scholars. I also researched about human capital standards and needs of SMEs. These required me to contribute new ideas, plan, coordinate and market events. My experience at MOM improved my ability to multi-task, work in teams and communicate effectively. I also learnt more about the functions of the Ministry and its role in improving our economy. My experience at work has helped me to understand the difficulty of pursuing perfect outcomes as goals may conflict and trade-offs have to be made to achieve optimal results. This can be seen in government policy-making, which has to balance the conflicting needs of Singaporeans, foreign investors and other external parties to grow the Singapore economy and create equitable outcomes for all.

5. Did your experience as an MOM intern affect your view or decision to apply for the  scholarship?

I had already intended to apply for this year’s scholarship before my internship. In fact, this is my second year applying as I was unsuccessful in my previous year’s application. However, I came back a year older and wiser and my previous setback made me more determined to succeed in this year’s application.

6. Why do you think you were awarded the National HR Scholarship? Are there any experiences or qualifications that you believe gave you that extra boost?

I gave a genuine account of myself during the interviews and I believe that it was my passion for HR, willingness to learn and confidence which saw me through. My previous year’s setback also made me more determined to improve myself and motivated me to succeed in this year’s application.

7. Any words of advice to aspiring National HR scholars?

I would advise aspiring NHR scholars to discover their personal strengths and weaknesses and how these qualities would help or possibly derail them as a HR professional. An aspiring scholar should be able to align his or her strengths to meet the job demands of a modern HR professional while constantly seeking to improve perceived weaknesses.

Lastly, even if you fail at first, do not be deterred from trying again. More often than not, we improve by learning from our failures. The important thing is not to give up!

For more information on the National HR Scholarship, check out the MOM website
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