Tan Xuan Rong

Deputy Director, Research and Development, Ministry of Trade and Industry - Public Service Commission

Name: Tan Xuan Rong
Year Awarded Scholarship: 2004
Scholarship Scheme: Overseas Merit Scholarship (Open)
Undergraduate University: Tsinghua University
Undergraduate Course: Materials Science and Engineering
Postgraduate University: Columbia University
Postgraduate Course: Industrial Engineering and Operations Research


1. What sparked your interest in the PSC Scholarships and the Public Service?

Growing up, I’ve always been inspired by stories of how Singapore has built up an incorruptible and effective Public Service that has brought us from third world to first. At the same time, the Public Service offers many varied and intellectually stimulating opportunities where officers can make a difference to the lives of Singaporeans.

2.       What are your responsibilities at work? Have there been surprises along the way - an unexpected observation, an epiphany, or a defining moment?

Currently, I am working on policies relating to A*STAR and Research and Development (R&D) that have economic outcomes for Singapore. Prior to this, I was working on policies for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) at MTI, and was also a diplomat with MFA before joining MTI.

One of my biggest learning points at MFA and at MTI is realising how vulnerable Singapore is. We must not take Singapore’s success for granted, and must continue to work hard and break new ground, so that we are well-positioned for the future.

3.       What are some of the challenges you have faced at work and how have you overcome them?

As the Singapore economy matures and more stakeholders are present in the ecosystem, one of our biggest challenges today is in coordinating and engaging these multiple stakeholders, who could be from other agencies or from outside of the public sector. To overcome such challenges, it is important to develop a sense of empathy to be able to see things from other perspectives.

But more broadly, we can always look towards strong teamwork in the public sector to overcome most challenges that come our way.

4.       What do you enjoy most about your job? What is the most fulfilling part of it?

I enjoy working with colleagues and bosses who are passionate about raising the competitiveness of Singapore and ultimately improving the lives of Singaporeans.

5. What advice would you give to someone considering whether to apply for a PSC scholarship?

Find the opportunity to speak to a few PSC scholarship holders about a career in the Public Service