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3 Things to Consider if You Want to be a STEM Officer

3 Things to Consider if You Want to be a STEM Officer

Heard that the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) fields are male-dominated? Boring? Laboratory-based? A place with limited progression? Mostof these stereotypes are false except that the STEM industry by and large remains male dominated, says Ms Evangeline Chua, Chief People Officer at GovTech. 

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Boring?  On the contrary, she has found it is a vibrant field where “sharing and learning is key”, flexibility is valued, and a diversity of backgrounds and disciplines are welcome. 

To those looking to take the plunge into STEM, here are her words of advice.


Consider your strengths. Play to them.

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“Whatever competencies you have, leverage on them,” Evangeline advises. 

She clarifies that she doesn’t mean a university degree, because while “a degree can help get you through the door, it might not get you through your work,” she quips.

Skills is more critical, noting that over the last two years, GovTech has altered its hiring criteria to prioritise technical competencies and work experience over paper qualifications.

Interpersonal skills and stakeholder management abilities – “basic survival skills” across all industries, should be a given, especially as engineers now are expected to “translate the technicalities of their work into layman terms, so the people on the street understand what they are doing”.

Evangeline emphasises that this is especially so in the public sector, as each new piece of technology is designed with the feedback and needs of the citizens in mind.

She adds that this “customer-centricity” has opened doors to those without STEM qualifications. Those from the social sciences are sought after for their ability to understand human behaviour and drive adoption of technology, while GovTech also value the domain-specific expertise.


Conquer your fears. Overcome them.

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Evangeline laments that although STEM employers are broadening their hiring criteria, jobseekers often “hesitate and ponder on their fit”. She believes this is because the vibrancy of the tech sector makes it attractive, yet paradoxically, people worry that if they enter, they will either be unable to keep up or their jobs will be made redundant.

These fears are puzzling to her, she says, after all, “Why wouldn’t you want to be part of what’s disrupting the brick and mortar business you are in?” 

She reassures aspiring STEM officers that the demand for workers far exceeds the supply. “The only thing they should fear is if they remain stagnant, do not learn new skills, as the industry evolves.” 


Consider your ambitions. Live up to them.

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Evangeline encourages aspiring STEM officers to chase their dreams. “With new ideas, new apps, new industries, there’s never a dull day in the tech industry,” she says, adding that STEM work in the public sector is particularly meaningful.

This is partly because public service work serves the people. But it is also because officers are also creators rather than recipients of the policies and laws that regulate technology.

She adds that within the Public Service, there are many exciting initiatives to help STEM officers grow. At GovTech, one programme attaches engineers to technical mentors from Silicon Valley, while another creates opportunities for attachment with renown tech organisations, she shares.

In addition, GovTech also recognises that “there is no point trying to put a square peg in a round hole”, and has created new pathways to address the career aspirations of specialists who don’t want to move into management roles.

Opportunities abound, she reiterates – so shelve your complacency, set aside your fears, get ready to learn and collaborate.