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Building relationships

As a child, Ms Ong Xi Chun often overheard conversations between her parents — who are working in the civil engineering industry — about building construction and design. The thought of bringing ideas to life piqued her interest in the field and inspired her to follow in her parents’ footsteps.

Today, the 26-year-old is an executive engineer with the Housing & Development Board (HDB) — a career path made possible through the HDB Scholarship.

“I’ve always been intrigued by engineering work. Attaining the scholarship gave me the opportunity to further my learning in this field,” says Ms Ong.

The HDB scholarship funded her four-year education in Nanyang Technological University’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

After her graduation, Ms Ong joined HDB’s Infrastructure and Reclamation Department (IRD), where she plays an integral part in laying the paths and bridges that help people get from place to place.

Ms Ong enjoys the dynamic nature of her work as an executive engineer. She is responsible for an entire spectrum of processes that takes place before infrastructure such as roads, trunk sewers, pedestrian ramps and vehicular bridges are implemented.

From the early planning stages to negotiations with other agencies and actual construction, no detail escapes her scrutiny.

“Behind the roads and bridges we see are intricate processes that entail careful coordination between HDB and many other agencies. It can be challenging to work with so many timelines and details simultaneously, but doing it on a day-to-day basis keeps me excited to learn on the go,” says Ms Ong.

Negotiate for success
During her time with IRD, there were plenty of instances where Ms Ong had to step in to iron out potential project clashes. What may seem as simple as laying a new stretch of road can involve multiple stakeholders and considerations. For instance, she had to step in to facilitate negotiations between HDB and the Land Transport Authority (LTA). HDB had planned to commence road construction works at one of the cross junctions along LTA’s future Punggol North Link during the same period.

Should they have proceeded as planned, potential interruptions might have occurred due to simultaneous construction works being carried out within close proximity of each other.

“We have to always think of a win-win situation. Being collaborative and understanding the value of compromise are necessary for us to get the job done,” she adds.