Meet Kitson Tan. Currently on secondment with the Public Service Division (PSD), from the Ministry of Education (MOE), here’s how he continues to pursue change and growth in the workplace and in his own career.     

What do you do in PSD? 

I’m currently double-hatting in two teams. My first hat is with the Public Sector Transformation (PST) Engagement team, where we look at transformation across the whole Public Service. We engage key stakeholders to drive PST within every agency. 

My second portfolio is with the Future Workplace team, where we envision how our workplaces should look like, and implement those ideas. In particular I look at supporting the wellbeing of officers, especially in the area of mental health. 

What attracted you to this team here in PSD? 

I think I’m the kind of person who’s always thinking about how we can do things better. It’s not only thinking about what we can do to make things better, but how can we better engage stakeholders. I think that is what appealed to me.

I think that mental health has always been a bit of a taboo topic, and I’m glad that now we have the chance to do something about it, and I personally think that it’s very meaningful. 

You are currently on a two-year secondment with PSD. Why did you decide to take up this opportunity?

I was in MOE doing education policy work but after a while, I felt that I was getting too comfortable in the job and needed a new challenge. I knew that I wanted to stay within the Public Service, so my bosses suggested that I try going for a secondment. 

It sounds like you have a good relationship with your bosses. How have they shaped your career in the Public Service

I think I’ve always had very good bosses who care for me as an individual, and not just as a unit of work. My boss who recommended me for this secondment could have easily said “No, you just stay here and do your work,” because that is what would have been best for him, the team and the organisation. Instead, he recognised me as a person who likes to try new things and as someone who seeks growth. I felt that he took my career development seriously, and that’s something I appreciate about the Public Service. I hope to pay it forward too to the people around me. 

colleagues discussing over laptop

What’s a common misconception that people have about the Public Service? 

People like to say that it’s an iron rice bowl, but I don’t think it is. While I don’t think that my job is at stake, I also don’t feel like I can just rest on my laurels and assume that my career will be taken care of for the next 30-40 years. You must always be prepared to pick up new things, and I think it’s good that the Public Service gives you many opportunities to learn, be it through attending courses, furthering your studies or trying new things at work. In fact, I actually ‘arrowed’ myself for this second role in the Future Workplace team because I felt that I could do more and I wanted to learn new things.

What is one thing that you’ve learnt during your time here?

Don’t take things too personally. I guess I used to be a ‘young upstart’ who was always raging at things. Things happen for a reason, and when I learnt to take a step back, I started to see things from a bigger perspective and accepting that there are always many other factors in each situation. This has helped me to be a better officer. Of course me seven years ago wouldn’t take that advice!

What advice would you give to someone considering a job with the Public Service? 

Be open to new experiences. Learn to take a step back beyond just focusing on your work and look at your development. Self-reflection is important for self-care! And don’t assume that you are going to be doing the same job for the next 30 years. It doesn’t work that way anymore. 


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