18.35 Activism - Young Union Leaders
The leader who knows how to seize opportunities and make the best out of it

Impatient, short-tempered, not up for challenges. These are common traits many people perceived the new generation of youths to be. This month, we interviewed Lee Yong Quan, young Union Leader from the Singapore Industrial and Services Employees' Union (SISEU), who rise up to challenge this common misconceptions and will show you how youths are more than capable to withstand challenges and are in fact, very eager to learn.

Some background about Yong Quan. He has been working in ABB, an engineering company for almost seven years. Having graduated with a mechanical engineering degree, we were surprised to find out that Yong Quan first joined the company as an industrial designer. With a job scope quite different from what he majored in, having some knowledge in engineering definitely helped, but, it was his ability to adapt and learn on the job that made him thrived and excelled in his career. Just recently, he took up a new challenge as a Bid and Proposal Specialist in ABB.

Yong Quan’s eagerness to explore new things does not stop at work. During the circuit breaker period, Yong Quan started trying out planting at home. He also began experimenting with his 3D printer, one that he gotten two years ago. That’s not all he does in his free time, Yong Quan also allocates time to do sports, meddle with simple photography and playing DOTA 2. He is definitely one youth who knows how to work hard, work smart and play hard.


1.    Please share with us what do you do in ABB

The words ‘circuit breaker’ certainly resonates with me. In my first five years in ABB, my job role is mainly focused on industrial design related to switch gear for commercial and industrial buildings. In layman terms, it is like the circuit breaker you find in your house, but a hundred times bigger.

I have a very interesting job, with every project largely out of the norm and highly non-standardized. Yes, it does take extra effort and you can expect mistakes along the way, however, it also pushes me to step out of my comfort zone, to keep trying till I succeed. And even after I succeed in the first step, it doesn’t end there. The length of the project? I will say I am accountable through the entire lifespan of the product. With responsibility comes stress, but it is also this that makes the job worthwhile and satisfying.

I have picked up technical skills while being on the job, but I still feel that I can brush up on my soft skills, especially in the aspect of client management and communications. I wanted to challenge myself further. Two years ago, the position of a Bid and Proposal Specialist opened, after some thoughts, I took the leap of faith, requested for an internal transfer and I never regretted.

2.    What are your thoughts about frequent job hopping? Have you seen peers who done so and what made you decide to stay on with this same company for so long?

I have friends who have moved on, seek other opportunities, or even switched industries. Personally, I think it could be the engineering job nature. Having a broad discipline meant that it would take many years before one can really master or call ourselves an expert in a particular area or specialisation. Even now, I am constantly learning new things and brushing up my skills. When I was thinking of exploring new roles, I wanted to continue in a familiar environment, as such moving into a new company was not my first choice.

3.    Do you have any career development tips to share with fellow youths?

Always be curious! Don’t let repetitive daily work routine bore you. Wake up every day with the mindset to explore, to discover, to learn.

One good way to grow and develop is to challenge the norms and seek to improve things in a positive manner, this way we can gain more experience and move towards a new direction each time. Think out of the box, experiment, and constantly ignite your passion.

4.    How long have you been volunteering at Young NTUC and what made you decide to step forward?

I have only been volunteering with Young NTUC for over a year. I decided to step forward because I wanted to contribute back to the society, albeit in my own small ways. Joining SISEU and then taking on the appointment of Chairperson, Industrial Sector, Young NTUC, I must say this one year plus has been very fulfilling. In my interactions with fellow Union Leaders, I am humbled and thankful to be able to join them on this journey. I have seen their passion and drive in serving. They understand ground concerns, and never fail to share their thoughts on possible gaps policies may have.

I never thought I can be a voice for fellow youths at workplaces, but my experience in the union has shown me how I can play a part in helping them.

Young NTUC and the union are definitely good vehicles to drive about changes and help the society, and that is what motivated me to volunteer.
5.    Please share with us some of your highlights volunteering at Young NTUC.

One of my highlights was joining the Young NTUC – North East CDC Project Refresh last Christmas. We visited a home for seniors, helped to freshen up the living spaces and interacted with the seniors through a series of games and craft activities. It was a fulfilling experience and I am glad that we managed to put a smile on their faces and join them in celebrating the year end festive period. In fact, it had already been a while since I volunteered with seniors. I also got to know new friends and bonded with my fellow union leaders during the session.

6.    Please complete this sentence “To me, Young NTUC is...”

“To me, Young NTUC is an extended but close-knitted family. They bring me inspiration and motivation to do good and make others’ lives better.”