The fast-changing nature of work has prompted many Singaporeans to upgrade their skills to stay relevant. TODAY’s Voices section is publishing first-hand accounts of Singaporeans who have recently done so to give their careers a boost, or even pursue new paths in life.
In this instalment, Mr Mohammed Faiz Junaidi, 38, recounts his academic journey from the Institute of Technical Education to completing his master’s degree as an adult. Despite his early struggles, he discovered his passion for his career as a safety professional and upgraded his skills over the years to retain his competitive edge.
I completed my Master of Science in Health and Safety at the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS) in March.
This was just a year after getting my Bachelor of Science in Safety, Health and Environmental Management, also at MDIS, at the age of 37.
Looking back at my 16 years as a safety professional, I would not have imagined achieving this when I was younger.
As a child, I had a mischievous nature and found it difficult to sit still.
Staying focused was a challenge, as images of toys and cartoons continuously flashed through my head. As I got older, my mind would often wander to football.
During that period, conversations on mental conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder were scarce, and I did not seek medical attention or get a diagnosis.
Luckily, my academic performance was unaffected. I finished primary school in 1997 and subsequently passed my GCE N-Levels.
With my parents’ encouragement, I completed a Nitec in Automotive Technology (Light Vehicles) at the Institute of Technical Education Ang Mo Kio.
In 2007, I began working as a technician at ComfortDelGro’s taxi service centre after my National Service.
However, my time in the automotive industry was short-lived. A few months later, I was offered a position as a trainee safety advisor in the oil and gas industry. This marked the beginning of my career in Health, Safety and the Environment (HSE).
I was motivated to advance in this career as I saw how safety lapses led to injuries, and how machinery became faulty in the hands of untrained workers.
I also enjoyed communicating with workers and their management on how to prevent injuries and unnecessary breakdowns.
I obtained a specialist diploma in workplace safety and health at the BCA Academy in 2011.
This allowed me to become a registered safety officer recognised by the Ministry of Manpower.
During that period, balancing my work with part-time studies was still manageable because I was still single.
I was then a safety coordinator in the oil and gas sector and planned my night classes around my shifts.
In the following years, I observed changes in the industry, such as more foreigners getting registered as safety officers. Most job postings also required safety officers to have degrees.
Thus, in 2019, I enrolled in my degree programme at MDIS.
I chose MDIS for its attractive fees and because its degree is IOSH-accredited.
IOSH, or the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, is a global organisation for health and safety professionals. I felt that such accreditation would give me an edge over similar degrees from other institutions.
Compared to my previous studies in 2011, I had to care for my two children, then aged one and four, and support my wife.
I was then a HSE advisor for an integrated facility management company working normal office hours.
When I returned to school, I was excited and nervous.
The lecturers were very accommodating to our work commitments. They shared their contact details with us so we could reach them if we had questions.
A big challenge that I faced when attending school was that I had less time to play with my children. When I got home after class, they would be sleeping, and would still be asleep the next morning when I left for work.
Nevertheless, with my family’s unwavering support, I excelled in my bachelor’s programme and graduated with first-class honours.
I was eager to continue my professional growth and started my master’s course exactly a year later.
It was an easy decision to carry on at MDIS, thanks to the lecturers who assisted us.
Furthering my studies was a dream which I thought was unachievable since I was from the ITE stream.
Through my academic journey, I have gained a comprehensive understanding of the HSE field, including best practices in risk management, occupational safety, and environmental sustainability.
I have also honed my analytical skills, enabling my ability to identify potential hazards and develop effective strategies to mitigate them.
As I reflect on my journey thus far, I am grateful for the opportunities that have shaped me into what I am today.
ABOUT THE WRITER:
Mr Mohammed Faiz Junaidi, 38, is a corporate safety manager for a local construction company. He has worked as a safety professional for various industries such as oil and gas, aviation, and facilities management.
If you have an experience to share or know someone who wishes to contribute to this series, write to voices [at] mediacorp.com.sg with your full name, address and phone number.