Shirlynn Koh Zhiwen

Associate, Financial Operations, Salaries & Pensions - Accountant-General’s Department

Name: Shirlynn Koh Zhiwen
Year Awarded Scholarship: 2012
Scholarship Scheme: AGD Accountancy Scholarship
Undergraduate University: National University of Singapore
Undergraduate Course: Business Administration (Accountancy)


1. What sparked your interest in the AGD Accountancy Scholarship and the Public Service?

Fresh out of junior college, I was keen to pursue a career in the public service as I wanted a meaningful career for myself. The Public Service offered a means of contributing to our nation and our people. At the same time, I wanted to deep dive into the world of business and accounting. Thus, the AGD Accountancy Scholarship naturally became my top choice to achieve both aspirations.

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

Under the AGD Associates Programme, my first deployment stint is at Financial Operations where we are responsible for managing the Civil Service financial systems and operations. I also drive system enhancements and process improvements to raise public sector productivity and improve service delivery to key stakeholders.
While AGD is a government department, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the culture and structure were less hierarchical than imagined. Senior management, including the Accountant-General are warm and approachable. There are many opportunities to work closely with them and learn from their experience.

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

As part of providing service delivery to key stakeholders such as civil servants, pensioners and external organisations, it is important to empathize and listen to them. One challenge would be to identify and tackle issues at its root. By understanding the key pain points, we can further improve on and refine our service delivery and system processes.
For example, at one point the team was overwhelmed with many requests from various stakeholders. Attributing this to a lack of awareness, my team and I focused on building up self-help channels. This helped to empower stakeholders with the necessary knowledge to perform their actions, which in turn enabled the team to provide service delivery more effectively to those in need.

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

Of the many things I enjoy, I appreciate the dynamic nature of the job at AGD the most. There are many learning opportunities and exposure across various finance functions, capitalising on AGD’s unique position as the central agency to manage Government’s finances.
The fulfilment comes with each satisfied stakeholder or successful system enhancement. This includes having achieved the objective of putting finance at the heart of decision-making in the public sector and improving the effectiveness of Government to better serve the public..

5. What advice would you give to someone considering whether to apply for the AGD Accountancy Scholarship?

It will be good if you are clear on your goals, your passions and your motivations. For those who would like to further your studies in Accountancy and are keen to pursue a career in public sector finance, I’d say “Go for it!”.