A scholarship with the Central Provident Fund Board Singapore (CPF Board) changed the life of Ms Daphne Wee Miaoyu.

Ms Wee — a CPF Board Mid-Term Undergraduate Scholarship recipient — graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Mathematics and Economics.

The Nanyang Technological University graduate recalls that she was quite reserved and uncertain of her abilities, and rarely spoke up during discussions.

Now, after seven years with the CPF Board, the assistant director heads the team at the Retirement Management Offi ce. This was set up to coordinate communications on retirement-related matters, as well as to integrate retirement- related processes across relevant departments.

Says the 29-year-old: “Through the projects I’ve handled and regular interaction with external parties and colleagues across departments, I am now more confi dent and comfortable in expressing myself, and now lead a team of my own.”

Overcoming challenges

Ms Wee recalls how she had to conquer her fear of public speaking in only her second year at her workplace.

She had co-authored a paper for an overseas international conference on managing longevity risk, which aims to increase awareness on CPF Life, the national annuity scheme. When her co-author could not attend the event to present the paper, Ms Wee had to make the presentation instead.

She recalls: “The thought of addressing academics and industry experts from around the world was daunting but fortunately, the presentation ran smoothly and became a highlight of my career.”

Through a carefully structured programme, Ms Wee has been rotated through various departments to gain greater exposure to the work of the CPF Board and its partners.

She began in the Policy Department, which schooled her in policy-making and allowed her to work on CPF Life.

After about 18 months, she was seconded to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) to work on CPF policies relating to housing, insurance and self-employed persons. After her MOM stint, she was posted to the Lifelong Income Department.

Macro-view opportunity

At MOM, she was given a macro- view on policy-making and its implementation.

She says: “Even though I was also doing policy work, I learnt to view the policies from a different perspective in the Ministry, and better understood the challenges involved in policy implementation and reviews.”

Ms Wee adds that through the job rotations and working on the different schemes and policies, she also gained a better understanding of how the various social security policies are intertwined. This has enabled her to better assist Singaporeans in their housing, healthcare and retirement needs, she explains.

Since Ms Wee was a Mid-Term Scholar, she did not get to intern at the CPF Board. Her advice to scholarship aspirants is to fully explore the organisation’s internship opportunities to understand the spectrum of work there.

Her scholarship covered a one-time overseas exchange programme, full tuition fees, annual maintenance allowance and a computer/book allowance. Mid-Term Scholars are bonded for only two years.

On the overseas exchange programme, she spent a semester (fi ve months) in Troy, New York, at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

She says: “This stint provided me with valuable experience of studying abroad and the opportunity to interact with students from all over the world. This helped to broaden my perspectives and equip me with a skill set that I could tap when I started work.”