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Speech by Mr Soh Yap Choon


Mr Tan Choon Shian,
Principal and CEO, Singapore Polytechnic
Distinguished Guests,
Teachers, Parents and Graduands,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good evening.


  1. As an alumnus, I am very happy and honoured to join you today for this special occasion. My congratulations to you on this big day! I also congratulate parents and faculty members who have made this day possible for you.

My Story

  1. Allow me to tell you more about myself. More than 20 years ago, I sat where you are now. I was a part-time student and graduated from Singapore Polytechnic in 1991.

  2. I joined an American company as a Service Technician after National Service. Being young and energetic, I volunteered to help out in the commissioning of a new project. My boss at that time was not too keen about it. I had my own maintenance work to take care of. But I assured him that I would manage both commitments. Fortunately for me, I had a team of wonderful colleagues helping me and things worked out well. From this experience, I picked up valuable lessons, such as project management skills.

  3. Later, when I applied to study at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), I was rejected. Not wanting to give up, I appealed. Fortunately, my appeal was successful. I went on to graduate from the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering in 1994.

  4. I then joined the Public Utilities Board as an Electrical Engineer. I was responsible for long term planning and system studies, in building Singapore’s infrastructure. As a new engineer with no practical experience, I requested for a field attachment to learn about power engineering. I did this so that I could be a better planner.

Finding Your Path

  1. So how does my story apply to you? Some of you may already know your dreams and your ideal career path. For others, you may be looking for new ideas, new opportunities, and new paths.

  2. Whether or not you know what you want for your future, let me share with you the three Ps I have learnt – Perseverance, Purpose and Patience.

  3. First, persevere – never give up. Always ask when in doubt or when you need help. If I did not volunteer to help out in a new project in my first job, I would not have picked up project management skills. If I had accepted the rejection from NTU and did not make an appeal, my life-journey could have turned out differently.

  4. Second, find purpose in what you do. For me, my job with the Energy Market Authority (EMA) is to ‘Keep the Lights On’ for Singapore. I cannot imagine a moment without electricity in our technological world now! This, to me, is important and meaningful. It keeps me in this job. Once you find your purpose, you will have the initiative to do more and do better.

  5. Last but not least, be patient. It takes years to build something, be it an aeroplane, or a building! So be patient and see things through. This will later give you great satisfaction and fulfilment.

  6. In the engineering sector, success does not come instantly. The longer you stay in the trade, the more you build your expertise and confidence. With hard work and discipline, you can achieve much.

  7. While hard work is important, remember that society has given you the opportunities to succeed. So I hope you will do your part to find ways to give back to society. (In Chinese - 取之社会,用之社会)

Continuous Learning Journey in the Power Sector

  1. Learning does not stop after your graduation. It is a life-long journey and this stage is only one of your many destinations.

  2. In the power sector, we encourage lifelong learning and there are many resources available for those who want to do well. EMA and the industry have been supportive of students who seek a career in this sector. For example, in 2012, EMA and the Singapore Institute of Technology and Newcastle University, started a two-year Electrical
    Power Engineering degree programme for polytechnic graduates.

  3. EMA and industry partners, such as Singapore Power, Keppel, Sembcorp, and Tuas Power, also came together to offer Singapore’s first dedicated power sector scholarship – the Energy Industry Scholarship. Last year was the first time we awarded the scholarship. Two of the scholarship recipients are from SP’s Electrical and Electronic Engineering course. One of them, Mr Teo Wen Xuan, shared that he is thankful for the financial assistance and the opportunity to work in the power sector. The other recipient, Ms Noor Nashriyah Binte Jalil, is eager to prove that women can succeed in the engineering field, which has the reputation of being a ‘man’s field’. We are happy to welcome them into the power industry when they graduate, and would like to invite you to consider these opportunities.

  4. Besides scholarship, EMA also offers sponsorship programme with the objective of supporting employees (eg. by paying for their course fees) to continually upgrade their skills and facilitate a continuous learning culture in EMA.

  5. There is also a SkillsFuture Earn and Learn programme in which participants will be matched to suitable employers, allowing you to deepen skills acquired in school, through workplace learning and mentorship. You can find out more at the SkillsFuture website.

Market Outlook and Opportunities in the Power Sector

  1. As graduates from SP, you will find many applications for your skills, be it in engineering-related or other fields. Being from EMA, I would like to encourage you to enter the energy sector and make your mark in this exciting industry. There are many challenging engineering projects such as the building of our Liquefied Natural Gas Terminal. Besides that, we also invest in R&D for emerging technologies, such as renewable energy, and energy storage.

  2. The power sector is challenging and dynamic. At EMA, we constantly explore how to integrate new technologies into our existing systems, to keep the lights on for Singapore in the most efficient way.

  3. There is also a wide range of non-engineering roles in the power sector. For example, we also work on developing our energy market and industry. This could involve work in market trading and industry promotion. I invite you to find out more from our website at You can also ‘like’ us on Facebook to get updates on what’s happening in the energy industry.

  4. The energy industry offers much career options. It was this that drew one of your seniors, Ms Kwok Sher Wei to EMA and the energy industry. In 2013, Ms Kwok graduated with a diploma in clean energy. She applied for an EMA scholarship and is now pursuing a degree in electrical and electronic engineering at NTU. She chose this course because it involves looking at various energy sources and power. We are looking forward to her graduation next year.

  5. With the training and skills picked up from your time at SP, you have a promising future. My parting advice is that whatever industry you join, always be willing to pick up new knowledge and skills. Remember the 3 Ps – Persevere when facing difficulties, find Purpose in what you do, and be Patient for results. I wish you success and happiness in your years ahead. Thank you!

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