I am currently an Assistant Director in the Human Resource Directorate where my team oversees the development and review of MFA’s strategic human resource strategies. Prior to this I was the First Secretary (Admin & Consular) at the Singapore Embassy in Qatar, where I had a multifaceted portfolio, managing consular work, financial and procurement issues, vendor management and Protocol.
All Foreign Service Officers (FSOs) have to go through a three-round selection process which consists of a series of tests which assess the candidate's language and analytical ability, a one-day assessment centre and a panel interview.
Working as a diplomat overseas allowed me to make a difference to the people I worked with and the lives of Singaporeans in Qatar. This ranged from managing the operations of the Embassy and facilitating high-level visits, to helping distressed Singaporeans in their time of need.
That said, working overseas comes with its challenges. You will have to adapt to a new country and culture, while, in some cases, learning a new language. However, the Ministry and my colleagues were always there to provide me with support. Prior to assuming post overseas, MFA sponsored my Arabic language classes which allowed me to operate more effectively in Qatar. My colleagues also brought me around the city to help me settle in. We developed a bond through our time in Qatar and still grab meals together whenever we can even after we’ve returned to HQ in Singapore.
When news of the pandemic first broke out, MFA also reached out to ensure that we had access to the necessary protective gear and good medical facilities.
One of my most memorable moments was when I helped secure safe passage back to Singapore for a Singaporean lady and her four young children who had been trapped in a danger zone for several days. The sheer relief and happiness in her voice when she realised she was finally safe made an indelible impression and remains a constant source of motivation for me.
FSOs need to be flexible and quick on their feet to respond to dynamic situations. It is also important to be calm and empathetic, particularly when somebody is in a tough situation and requires Consular assistance. While building up these skills can take time and the work can be challenging, a career in MFA provides an unique and unparalleled experience that allows you to grow both professionally and personally.