Wong Hefen, Deputy Director, Co-Lab, Ministry of Manpower, Singapore

By Chia Jie Lin

Women in GovTech 2018 Special Report.

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

I lead Co-Lab in the Ministry of Manpower, a multi-disciplinary innovation team. We aim for all policies to be human-centred and all decisions to be data-driven.

What has been the most exciting thing that you worked on in 2018?

Co-Lab used a combination of data analytics, behavioural insights and design thinking to help construction companies take greater ownership of their workplace safety. We co-designed and tested the changes to our enforcement strategies, work processes and interactions with more than 200 construction companies.

Our trial revealed that our solutions were effective in creating safer workplaces, with six times less enforcement actions taken against the companies. We also gained 15% in resource savings.

The coolest bit was seeing our colleagues take charge to test and experiment with us, and having their efforts pay off as we observe companies’ behavioural shifts. To scale human-centred and data-driven solutions, the greatest change has to come from within.

If you were to share one piece of advice that you learned in 2018, what would it be?

Everyone wants to play in the gap between aspirations and reality. Sometimes our hidden fears of failure and inadequacy get in our way ~ When we better understand each other’s needs and interests, we can co-create greater change together.

What tool or technique particularly interests you for 2019?

Instead of just one tool, I’m particularly excited about multi-disciplinary teams coming together to create new approaches and more sustainable solutions. I believe diversity makes stronger teams!

What are your priorities for 2019?

Humanising digital transformation with design and data.

What is one skill that has helped you the most throughout the course of your career?

Believing what others can see in me, far beyond what I can see in myself.

What advancements do you predict will happen in your field in the next ten years?

Many jobs that exist today will be replaced or complemented by technology. We can embrace our appetite for change and co-design new work processes and our future jobs together.

Empathy, creativity and innovation make up the essence of our human spirit; these can never be replaced by machines :)

Coffee, yoga, music… what powers you through your day?

I drink 400ml of water and grab a freshly baked bun from Barcook Bakery to get going.