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Guardians of Our Home: An Eye on the Future

Big or small, it’s all about making an impact – and that’s what matters to Gwendolyn Wong, a Strategy Planning Officer with MHA.
PHOTOS: Soo Jun Xiang

Guardians of Our Home is a series that features civilian careers in the Home Team. Check out the MHA Merit Scholarship to learn how you can pursue a fulfilling career and jump-start your leadership journey as a Home Affairs Senior Executive.

Senior Manager (Strategic Planning), Planning & Organisation Division, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA)
A thoughtful go-getter with a passion for making a difference in the lives of others – that was the impression that Gwendolyn, a Home Affairs Senior Executive, gave during our conversation.

Gwendolyn’s interest in the Home Team, particularly the Singapore Prison Service (SPS), was sparked when she was young. As a Sociology student at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), she made it a point to pursue an internship with SPS. “I’m very interested in correctional work," explained Gwendolyn. “Internships with SPS weren’t offered by NTU back then, so I asked my university tutor for a recommendation.”

Gwendolyn’s first taste of the Home Team’s vital work came during an internship with SPS’ Strategic Planning Division in 2012. This experience gave her an early understanding of what uniformed Prison officers did and deepened her passion for correctional work. 

Helping Others Make a Fresh Start
After graduating in 2013, Gwendolyn joined SPS’ Psychological and Correctional Rehabilitation Division as a Home Affairs Senior Executive. She ran counselling programmes for female inmates at the Drug Rehabilitation Centre as well as offenders.

“Some of our counselling sessions last from six to nine months,” she recalled. “During this period, we can often see the change and growth that offenders undergo, especially for the younger ones. It’s heartening to be able to make this impact.”

(Top photo) Gwendolyn (right) with Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean and then-Commissioner of Prisons Desmond Chin (fifth from right) in 2017. That year, Gwendolyn served as Head (Reception) as part of the organising committee for the Yellow Ribbon Prison Run. PHOTOS: Gwendolyn Wong, SPS and Home Team News

In 2016, Gwendolyn had the opportunity to take on another role in organisational planning at SPS' Strategic Planning Division, where her work involved the longer-term planning of Singapore's correctional landscape. She was also a member of the Yellow Ribbon Prison Run organising committee from 2016 to 2018. 

“That was also one of the reasons I joined Prisons!” she shared enthusiastically. “It was heartening to help organise an event that allows the public to show its support for offenders.”

Fostering Collaborations in the Home Team
In June 2019, Gwendolyn was posted to MHA’s Planning & Organisation (P&O) Division, where she currently manages the Innovation and Strategic Planning portfolios. This allows her to look at and devise solutions for potential issues that the Home Team will face in the next five to ten years.

“At MHA, I’ve learnt to think of the big picture more,” said Gwendolyn. “We all have a part to play in keeping Singapore safe and secure, and that’s how we work as One Home Team.”

To encourage collaborations across the Home Team, the P&O team regularly speaks with Home Team officers to understand their concerns and organises various events for them to exchange best practices. “The Home Team is always about collaboration, figuring out one another's needs and achieving our goals together,” said Gwendolyn.

The P&O team conducted its first Innovation Month virtually in October 2020, bringing Home Team officers together to exchange best practices. PHOTO: Gwendolyn Wong

Gwendolyn takes pride in helping Home Team officers streamline their structures and processes that, in turn, benefit the public. Together with her team-mates, Gwendolyn organised the inaugural Home Team Innovation Month in October 2020 for Home Team Departments to share success stories. 

“Though the sharing session was held virtually due to COVID-19, it was very well-received, and we had positive feedback from the participants,” she said. 

Spreading the Transformation message is part of Gwendolyn’s job at P&O. PHOTOS: Soo Jun Xiang

As part of her personal development, this year, Gwendolyn attended the Home Team Leaders-in-Development Programme, a structured, MHA-wide course that prepares officers for higher appointments.

“Meeting fellow Home Team colleagues involved in different areas of work has helped me to gain new perspectives about the Home Team’s mission,” shared Gwendolyn. “The opportunity to interact with each other also prompted me to think about other potential areas for collaboration.”

Making an Impact at Different Home Team Agencies, and in Different Domains
According to Gwendolyn, one common element in all her chosen roles has been the opportunity to make a difference. “Whether it’s in rehabilitation or through supporting the Home Team’s Transformation efforts, it’s heartening to make an impact to Singapore's safety and security,” she explained with pride. “In ways big and small, that’s what being in the Home Team allows us to do.”

PHOTO: Soo Jun Xiang

Asked what she thinks has helped her to transition between her different roles, Gwendolyn said it was a willingness to take on new challenges without preconceived notions. “We may think we have the knowledge upon graduation to work effectively, but that’s not always the case,” she said. “Things can change quickly and the only way to keep up is to change as well. It’s about constant learning, having a growth mindset and enjoying the process!”


Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) Merit Scholarship
The MHA Merit Scholarship is awarded to outstanding individuals who are passionate about strengthening Singapore’s security and public safety. 

Recipients of the MHA Merit Scholarship may choose from a variety of exciting and rewarding Home Team careers according to their interests and aspirations. This civilian scholarship offers six career tracks: a generalist track as a Home Affairs Senior Executive and five specialist tracks in Intelligence; Psychology; Commercial Affairs; Science and Technology; and Internal Security. 

Applications are now open! Click here to learn more about the MHA Merit Scholarship.

Guardians of Our Home
- Intelligence career track: A Police Analyst at Work
- Commercial Affairs career track: Taking a Global View of Fighting Crime
- Psychology career track: Busting Myths About Being a Home Team Psychologist
- Science and Technology career track: At Work with a Crime Scene SpecialistRecovering Digital Evidence to Fight Crime
- Internal Security career track: Internal Security, from the Inside

Written by

Ashley Tuen


29 December 2020

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