Throughout his career in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), Senior Lieutenant Colonel (SLTC) Wong Shi Ming has worn many hats.
Starting out as an infantryman, the 34-year-old is now the Commanding Officer of the 3rd Battalion Singapore Infantry Regiment (3 SIR).
His lot in life still surprises him occasionally. He did not expect to stay on in the military after his National Service (NS). He started out in Basic Military Training as a fresh-faced recruit, and subsequently entered Officer Cadet School, where everything changed.
A holistic career development
His academic excellence and natural affinity for leadership netted him the President’s Scholarship and SAF Scholarship in 2003, which enabled him to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Government at Harvard University. On his return to the SAF, he served as a platoon commander in 2 SIR and a company commander in 3 SIR, before his appointment as a staff officer in the Joint Manpower Department.
He says: “I am fortunate to have served in both command and staff appointments in MINDEF/SAF. Command roles on the ground are my favourite, as I get to lead soldiers and make a difference to their National Service experience.”
Thereafter, SLTC Wong was posted to MINDEF where he served as an assistant director in the Defence Policy Office and worked on enhancing defence relations with neighbouring countries. He later assumed the position of a brigade operations officer.
The SAF has given him many leadership and development opportunities. As a young officer, he was sent to the US for military training. In 2015, he attended the US Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, where he pursued a Masters of Military Art and Science.
Making a difference for people
To SLTC Wong, defending Singapore is an important mission. More significantly, the uniformed career allowed him to make a difference to the people around him.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the unique camaraderie and teamwork found in military life, which can’t be found elsewhere,” says SLTC Wong. “The military profession stretches you not just physically, but also intellectually, emotionally and in the leadership domain — a variety of challenges that is not easily found in other jobs.”
Currently the Commanding Officer of 3 SIR, SLTC Wong’s first priority is always to create positive experiences for his soldiers as they serve NS.
“I tell my soldiers that through challenging times, we learn important life skills, such as resilience, teamwork and fighting spirit, all of which continue to be relevant for life after NS.”
His advice for aspiring leaders? “If you are a people-oriented person, and want a career that stretches you in different areas, do consider the SAF. The career may not be an easy one, but it will be deeply satisfying as you know that you are making a tremendous difference to the people around you.”