Mention the word “tax” and what comes to mind is likely the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS). However, many people may not know that what powers the organisation to carry out its mammoth task of collecting tax revenue is a large-scale, complex and robust information technology (IT) system running behind the scenes.
IRAS scholar Amy Eow, 38, already knew about the organisation’s focus on IT when she signed up for its scholarship, but it was not until she embarked on her career there later that she grasped the full magnitude of it.
Today, she is the director of IRAS’s infocomm applications branch (in the infocomm division) which has over 80 staff, and she oversees the software design and engineering for IT systems.
ENGINEERED FOR CORPORATE SUCCESS
Having come from a family of engineers, it is no surprise that computer engineering has always been one of Ms Eow’s top choices for an undergraduate degree.
Not only does she recognise the usefulness of developing analytical and systems thinking skills, but she also appreciates how computer applications have the potential to simplify processes and greatly improve the efficiency of how things are done.
That is why she chose to enrol in the computer engineering degree programme at the National University of Singapore (NUS) on an IRAS Undergraduate Scholarship in 2002.
During the four-year programme, she learnt the technical foundations required for delivering the IT applications in IRAS.
She says: “The key takeaways from my studies are the analytical and problem-solving skills that will always be relevant in any scenario. For instance, how to systematically break down and tackle a problem, and balance the trade-offs to arrive at the most optimal solution, given limited resources and time.”
BROADENING SKILLS AND KNOWLEDGE
After working for about five years at IRAS, Ms Eow returned to NUS to pursue a Master of Business Administration (MBA) on the IRAS Postgraduate Scholarship in 2011.
“As my career progresses, I believe that on top of vital technical skills, it is important to have foundational knowledge in the various business functions such as accounting, finance, strategic planning and organisational behaviour,” she says.
“This will not only give me a better appreciation of how the whole organisation runs, but also equip me with the skills to lead more effectively and efficiently.”
At IRAS, new technologies are constantly being explored to improve taxpayer experience, enhance staff productivity and ensure its platforms are up to date.
One of its major endeavours is a technology modernisation programme to shift the core tax administration system onto the Cloud and leverage cloud-native services, microservices architecture and DevSecOps capabilities. Previously the manager who oversaw its blueprint study and proof of concepts with a team of architects, Ms Eow now supervises the programme management office as the digital transformation continues.
POWERING THROUGH THE PANDEMIC
During the outbreak, Ms Eow assumed new responsibilities and led a team to disburse government payouts to businesses under the Covid-19 support measures such as the Jobs Growth Incentive, Jobs Support Scheme and Rental Support Scheme.
“It has been fulfilling to see that our collective work has a bigger purpose and impact in supporting the economy and nation-building,” she says.
Being resilient is especially crucial during the pandemic.
“As teams work from home for extended periods, we need to think of creative ways to facilitate collaboration, maintain morale and nurture team-bonding. Situations can evolve rather quickly, which is why we need to adopt an agile mindset and positive spirit.
“We need to accept that change is certain. The ability to anticipate and manage risks, and to adapt and innovate accordingly in the face of change, will enable us to sustain in the long run,” she adds.
Visit iras.gov.sg/careers/opportunities-at-iras/scholarships for more information.