Deputy Superintendent (DSP) Kalaivanan Pannerchilvam is a senior operations management executive with the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA).
He joined ICA in 2011 after graduating from the National University of Singapore with a bachelor’s degree in political science.
The 31-year-old recalls being inspired to play a part in border security at a recruitment drive at the campus.
“I did more research and realised that ICA’s work was not just about passport clearance at the checkpoints, but multiple aspects contributing to the safety and security of Singapore. It was at this point that I decided to join ICA,” he says.
One of the things that appealed to DSP Kalaivanan was the variety of tasks that ICA officers undertake.
He explains: “As an ICA officer, you could be a team leader at the checkpoints supervising day-today operations; a policy officer working with Ministry of Home Affairs in developing border security polices, or an investigator looking into the cases of immigration offenders.
“For someone who did not want to be stuck doing the same thing for a prolonged period, the flexibility and varied job roles in ICA greatly appealed to me.”
In his current role, DSP Kalaivanan oversees operational policies, as well as formulates and reviews operational guidelines for implementation across the checkpoints.
He also works with other Home Team agencies and strategic partners on operational policies and procedures. In operations management, he helps to drive initiatives and manages projects to enhance checkpoint operations.
After his 12-week basic training at the ICA Training Command, he was posted to Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal (TMFT) where he led a team of 25 officers to ensure smooth and secure checkpoint clearance.
The following year, he took on the role of a staff officer at Coastal Command where he had to develop operational guidelines and project planning, as well as liaise with other work units to facilitate process review and dissemination of new directives.
As an ICA officer, DSP Kalaivanan has to keep abreast of security incidents around the world.
“At all times, it is imperative to have clarity of thought so we can identify critical information, make an assessment and recommend the right solution,” he says.
The most satisfying aspect of DSP Kalaivanan’s job is seeing how policies or guidelines that he has drafted translate to real outcomes at the checkpoints.
“It serves as a constant reminder of how my work contributes to Singapore’s border security, improvement in travellers’ experience and helping checkpoint officers perform their jobs more effectively,” he says.
One such instance was when he was part of the project team for the implementation of the Flexible Immigration Clearance System (Flexi-I) at the Marina Bay Cruise Centre, the world’s first dual-mode clearance system.
The system allows ICA to adjust the number of manned and automated counters in response to the ground situation.
He says: “It was an amazing experience when we hear travellers’ positive feedback about the system. It adds to my sense of accomplishment.”
DSP Kalaivanan finds that the work environment and culture at ICA encourages innovation and expression of ideas.
“I enjoy creative thought and finding new ways to address challenges, so the open environment and culture appeals to me,” he says.