Defence Policy Office
Think back to your childhood. Most of us would probably recall aspirations that changed from week to week. Some of these ‘dreams’ or interests may have continued to grow within us, eventually influencing our chosen fields of study. For Eugene Chew, his childhood free time was spent eagerly poring through his elder brother’s history textbooks, where he learned about the Russian Revolution and the League of Nations. His interest in how history was shaped by relations between countries and how world-changing events influenced different nations, contributed to his decision to study Political Science in university. And like they say, the rest is history.
Scope Of Work
Today, as the Assistant Director of Strategic Plans in the Defence Policy Office at the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF), 35-year-old Eugene leads a team that looks at external risks which impact Singapore’s defence, and develops plans to meet these challenges. This requires him to be well-acquainted with a broad range of geopolitical issues that cuts across domains and geographies, allowing him to look at defence issues from different angles and see how they interact and impact Singapore.
It is a complex job with a tremendous scope, as the many issues are often multi-faceted. Few can claim to be masters of every subject, which is why Eugene considers it important that members in his team “have a predisposition to learn new things, adapt quickly, and to read widely.”
There is no shortage of opportunities for people of various talents and skill-sets looking to build a meaningful career with MINDEF. The organisation provides Defence Executive Officers (DXOs) the option to rotate through a wide variety of roles where they can accumulate a wealth of experiences. “I had the privilege of having a variety of experiences in the Defence Policy Office, rotating across different teams that allowed me to manage Singapore’s bilateral defence relationships, and more recently, to develop strategies and plans. Besides defence diplomacy, I also had the chance to be involved in MINDEF’s outreach and engagement activities during my time in Nexus, the central agency for National Education,” recounts Eugene.
A robust talent management programme also helps to groom future leaders and specialists, something which Eugene attests he has benefited enormously from. On top of that, Eugene was given the opportunity to pursue his postgraduate studies at the Australian National University, through the MINDEF Postgraduate Awards. This allowed him to deepen knowledge in his line of work and explore new areas of interests. “The best part was that I was able to bring these tangible experiences back to MINDEF.”
His time at MINDEF has led to some particularly memorable experiences, as Eugene shares an incident during one of Thailand’s worst flooding in decades, back in October 2011. As the only desk officer around at the time, he found himself thrust unexpectedly into the role of coordinating Singapore’s relief efforts to Thailand.
Surprisingly, Eugene says that he hadn’t considered pursuing a career with MINDEF even as a university student. It was a chance exchange at a career fair that set him on this path, one that he has not looked back on since. With countless opportunities to grow professionally and pursue areas of interests, his career with MINDEF has been an exciting journey; one that he looks forward to exploring further.