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A fulfilling journey of growth

Today, Mr Jackson Tan may be interacting with the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officers and observing how passengers are being cleared at Changi Airport.

Tomorrow, he may be having meetings with various partners and stakeholders to brainstorm initiatives to improve airport operations.

For the deputy commander of ground operations in airport command at ICA, there is no such thing as a “typical work day”. He is not only responsible for managing immigration-related operations in all terminals at Changi Airport, but he is also in charge of implementing projects to introduce more automation at immigration, while managing day-to-day operations at the airport.

However, Mr Tan’s career experience extends far beyond his present duties. His journey with ICA began when he was awarded the PSC Local Merit Scholarship in 2001.

A holistic career
With the scholarship, he completed a Bachelor in Social Sciences in economics from the National University of Singapore in 2005.

To Mr Tan, public service offers a wide range of careers, each of which appeared interesting in its own right.

“In the end, I chose to serve in ICA as it offered a wide and interesting mix of jobs, ranging from checkpoint operations to policy roles,” he says.

The 37-year-old cites his second posting — to Airport Command — in 2007 as the one heenjoyed the most. As a young officer, he led a team of 18 ICA officers at Changi Airport Terminal 1 Departure.

He got to see travellers from all corners of the world, but also had to learn and understand different security challenges that different travellers posed, ranging from immigration offences to more serious crimes and even terrorism.

In 2010, he took off his operational “hat” to deal with challenges from a border and transport security policy perspective after being seconded to ICA’s parent ministry, the Ministry of Home Affairs.

And in 2012, he was attached to Singapore’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations General Assembly. There, he negotiated on resolutions that covered migration issues.

The many different career opportunities meant that the scholar had to be dynamic and versatile, constantly reinventing himself and flexing different sets of competencies and attributes according to his postings.

He says: “I had to lead my team decisively in operations but also display my analytical capabilities in a policy role. I was able to exercise my relationship building skills in international relations too.”

In 2017, the deputy commander was also able to further his studies with the support of ICA. He now holds a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Oxford, which equips him with more knowledge in management and leadership.

Ultimately, the breadth of learning opportunities remains the highlight of Mr Tan’s career with ICA.

Thirteen years after entering the organisation, he continues to look forward to his next posting, which promises to introduce new experiences and insights.

“The job constantly pulls me out of my comfort zone, and helps me become a better person and well-rounded officer.”