Tan Lay Kheng, Senior Assistant Director (Corporate, Operations, Information and Disease Outbreak Systems), Ministry of Health, Singapore

By Medha Basu

Women in GovTech Special Report 2020.

How do you use technology/policy to improve citizens’ lives? Tell us about your role or organisation.

I am an Executive Digital Service Manager (DSM) leading a GovTech team (based at Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH)) to support MOH’s Public Health Group and Operations Group to develop and implement systems for the management of Infectious Diseases and Outbreak Management in Singapore.

What was the most impactful project you worked on this year?

2020 is a particularly challenging year for all of us. The severity and speed of the worsening Covid-19 situation in early 2020, challenged our pandemic response plans and strained our existing systems. To support the growing complexity and scale of the operations, various new IT systems had to be implemented and integrated quickly, which included capabilities of contact tracing/listing, case management and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions to quarantine suspected cases. These IT Systems helped ease the load of our healthcare and frontline workers, and supported the effective management of the pandemic.

What is one unexpected learning from 2020?

The team had to work, discuss and get things done remotely during the Circuit Breaker period and we weathered through the experience with resilience and the collaborative spirit in all of us. Racing against time, everyone embraced online-meetings, video calls while juggling our family commitments.

Our brains and creativity were completely tapped while holding ourselves to the hectic implementation deadlines. It is amazing how well we intuitively pivoted ourselves into a single team - to help each other when issues arose and then saw it all come together during the launch [of systems].

What are your priorities for 2021?

The focus continues to be on Covid-19 related projects as there are still many opportunities for us to innovate and use technology to ensure our communities, economy and daily activities can restart and continue safely beyond 2021. In-action and after-action reviews have already started, and the aim is to learn from the pandemic, adopt a Product-Centric Delivery methodology while leveraging on a microservices architecture so that we can be better prepared for the next pandemic.

Write a message for your future self.

I hope you still remember me, the younger version of yourself. I hope you’ve let go of the trivial things that bother you about yourself and find joy in the things that have truly meant so much in life. I hope you carry around the things that the past has taught you, humbled you and enlightened you. I hope you feel confident that you’ve tried your best to be the best mommy, despite the constant weight of “mommy’s guilt” and realise that you are just the mommy your children need 😊