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Tax and tech savvy

As a director (Enterprise Digital Solutions) in the Infocomm Division of the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS), Mr Robin Ng plays a key role in using information technology (IT) to enhance taxpayer services.

The 42-year-old helps IRAS identify new digital opportunities, conceptualise and design digital solutions, and transform business processes. Mr Ng and his team also heads information and communications technology (ICT) innovation and the adoption of technology. They also develop modern ICT capabilities within the organisation.

“The role gives me the opportunity to be at the forefront to shape and transform the way we serve citizens, the way we engage the community for co-creation, and the way our people work, through the use of technology, data and design,” he says.

He also wants to create a smart digital workplace for IRAS that will allow it to excel in these fast-changing times.

Well-rounded programme
Mr Ng was attracted to the IRAS scholarship programme as he was looking for a career that would provide challenges and a wide range of opportunities for IT skills and personal development.

“IRAS, being a leading government agency that advocates the use of technology as well as staff development, fits the bill,” he says.

On the IRAS Merit Undergraduate Scholarship, Mr Ng pursued his Bachelor of Science in Computer Science at the National University of Singapore (NUS). He graduated with first class honours in 1999.

As part of their development, scholars have to complete a fourweek internship with IRAS during one of the school vacation periods.

Then, from 2006 to 2008, he completed his Master of Business Administration at NUS on the IRAS Postgraduate Scholarship.

Coming from an IT background, Mr Ng says the MBA course provided a very different yet rewarding experience and perspective that better prepared him for his subsequent job postings in IRAS.

“The IRAS scholarship allowed me to hone my skills and capabilities through exposure to a variety of work functions, job roles and projects in the organisation,” he adds.

IRAS scholars receive guidance and support through mentorship and buddy programmes, and are provided with the opportunities to sharpen and demonstrate their leadership and technical skills.

Benefiting the community 
“We work very closely with various stakeholders (community, citizens, staff, intermediaries, other government agencies and so on) to understand citizens’ needs, and design intuitive, convenient services and solutions that meet our stakeholders’ needs and make tax-filing and tax payment practically a non-event as it is so hassle-free and quick, and allows them to access information and services anytime, anywhere,” says Mr Ng.

In terms of technology adoption, his team also plays the role of influencer and educator among the stakeholders so that they understand the various technologies and the benefits they bring, he adds.

One gamechanger is IRAS’ inaugural Hackathon, which was held in September.

He says: “We co-created with the community and generated many good ideas. I was fortunate to lead a dedicated team that made it a successful event.

“We are currently following up on some of the ideas generated during the Hackathon, and we aim to push out these new initiatives progressively this year.”

To be an IRAS scholar, one should have the passion to learn and excel, possess an inquiring mind and be open to possibilities, be determined and have a “neversay- die” attitude, and, of course, be professional, says Mr Ng.