What Makes Us Tick?

28 Jul 2021

We talked to some DSTA staff to find out what it’s like working here, and what inspires them to give their best every day.

Wilson Kwa

Principal Engineer
(Naval Systems)
Wilson Kwa

What’s your favourite thing about working in DSTA?

I like DSTA’s focus on people development, which aligns individual career aspirations with organisational goals and a rewarding career. The various learning opportunities ranging from weekly tech sharing sessions to courses at DSTA Academy enable us to acquire a wide range of skills and build our technical knowledge.

The people here are also very helpful and a constant source of support. Everyone is very willing to share their experiences and knowledge.

What do you do every day?

The work here is simulating and not monotonous. We are exposed to multiple disciplines ranging from sensors, weapons systems to other cutting-edge technologies in our area of work. Some days, we review technical documents; on other days, we may need to attend trials or work closely with our partners from the defence ecosystem and industry partners to get things going.

What’s one highlight of your career?

One of my most favourite highlights was the delivery of the enhanced Bionix 1 Armoured Fighting Vehicle, when I was part of Land Systems Programme Centre. As part of the armour family that uses this vehicle during my in-camp training, I find it a gratifying experience to be using something that I have contributed to as a defence engineer.

Any words you’d like to share with your colleagues?

Resilience and staying focused will help you carry on despite the odds, while courage is needed to challenge the norms. Keep an open mind to continuous learning, as well as gaining new perspectives, especially from your colleagues.

Fiona Chen

Deputy Head
(Tech Office)
Fiona Chen

What do you enjoy best about DSTA?

Definitely the teamwork and collaboration. It helps that we have lots of supportive co-workers in DSTA who readily share their expertise so that all of us can work together towards a common goal. Be it management or staff, everyone here is friendly and readily offers help and guidance, which really exemplifies the collaborative spirit. We don’t work against one another, but work hand in hand to contribute to the team’s and the organisation’s success.

Name a career highlight!

Over the years, I’ve been able to work and interact with multiple agencies beyond just DSTA and MINDEF. I enjoy these opportunities as I get to work with many stakeholders to understand their challenges and points of view, and reach a common ground to resolve issues for everyone’s benefit. That has also gotten me access to many areas which would otherwise be out of bounds to most people!

Any words you’d like to share with your colleagues?

I’d like to thank my co-workers, past and present, for the camaraderie we’ve shared and the help that they have provided. Also a big thank you to my bosses for their leadership and spurring me on to perform to the best of my abilities. I think it helps that DSTA provides us many opportunities to explore various tech areas and types of work, and at the same time, recognises us for our efforts and contributions.

Kenrick Hor

Senior Programme Manager
(Building and Infrastructure)
Kenrick Hor

What drives you at work?

I would say teamwork! Collaboration and working well in teams are key to every project, and I love how the sharing culture in DSTA allows everyone to learn from each other. We all have our own expertise, and working with subject matter experts in other Programme Centres has definitely helped me grow as a defence engineer.

Name your favourite thing about working in DSTA!

I love how the organisation provides us with bountiful opportunities to work on exciting projects. Hence, I constantly look out for new challenges and opportunities to acquire new skills and knowledge. There is no project which is similar and through exposure, there will be new lessons learned.

For example, I am grateful that I had the opportunity to work on large-scale national events such as the National Day Parade in 2017 and 2020. As a power engineer, I reviewed the power demands and requirements to ensure that the show had a reliable electrical system and will remain powered up throughout. It was insightful to work on a highly anticipated event where I can draw on the expertise and experience of my work as a defence engineer. As a programme manager now, I’ve also had many opportunities to broaden my horizons and integrate different technical disciplines into my work to manage my projects.

Any career highlights?

To be a good electrical engineer, it takes experience and time to build up technical expertise. On top of that, we are encouraged to further our knowledge and pursue accreditation with professional certifications. So, the highlight of my career was when I attained the certifications to be registered as a Professional Engineer with the Professional Engineers Board Singapore. Not only is it a personal achievement, it is also a milestone in my engineering career as a recognition of my technical competencies and testament to the skills I’ve acquired over my career.

Cheng Siew Yen

Head Capability Development
(Systems Resiliency)
Cheng Siew Yen

Can you describe DSTA’s culture?

We have a deep focus on the pursuit of technological innovations and excellence. We are encouraged to push boundaries, and to strive to do things differently to provide greater value in our work or improve productivity. It’s not always about major technological breakthroughs, but about fostering the correct attitude that we can make a difference not just to ourselves but also to our end users, no matter how small a change or insignificant an idea may seem.

What do you like best about DSTA?

There are plenty of opportunities for continuous learning and getting exposed to multi-technical domains in our work. DSTA is very generous about giving staff the time and whitespace to build new competencies and pursue ideas. With the world getting increasingly complex, the problems faced are often multi-faceted, so being familiar with multi-technical domains will enable us to grow ourselves in various expertise to address problems. This is probably one of DSTA’s greatest strengths.

Any career highlights you could share?

It’s not so much a career highlight, but being able to enjoy a challenging career. My current portfolio of system resiliency is such an unbounded and open-ended field that there isn’t really any existing model answers or references. It’s created sleepless nights, not knowing at times what can be done or what can be delivered, but it’s also extremely exciting because we get to chart our own paths and venture into new domains.

Do you have any words you’d like to share with your colleagues?

Every one of us brings a unique strength and skillset to make a difference that will contribute to the final outcome. Let’s continue to work with and support one another, and celebrate the little achievements along our shared journey as we push ahead together! Thank you for the great teamwork!