Chin Yit Sheng, Eugene
Chin Yit Sheng, Eugene graduated in 2006 and is a Principal Manager at the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA)









What do you do?
I look at cultivating partnerships with overseas best-in-class institutions to complement and strengthen the local continuing and education training (CET) capabilities. Previously (just a few months back), I was doing more industry engagement activities and worked with industry partners to develop training programmes and initiatives for professionals and enterprises in the creative industries, which stretches into arts, design and media sub-sectors.
So you came up with programmes to better their skill sets?
Our day-to-day work (while I was doing industry engagement) was to meet up with companies and understand the manpower situation on the ground—the kind of creative talents they need, their hiring plans, and how we can support them. We will then offer recommendations tailored to the needs of the companies. In areas where training interventions are lacking, we will source for appropriate partners to develop and deliver new and relevant programmes, courses, masterclasses or workshops. This can pertain to emerging and specialised skills such as infographics, data visualisation or broad-based competencies like entrepreneurship, design thinking—to help our creative professionals perform better, either in technical areas or to help them start and manage a creative business. We also have various schemes in place to help companies holistically by lowering the direct and opportunity costs for them to send staff for external or internal training.
Interesting, it’s a bit of a far cry from DID.
Not exactly if you ask me. What I learnt in DID was actually quite significant and relevant to what I’m doing now. DID created the foundation for my appreciation on how design can impact what we do in our everyday lives. My prior work experience in a design consultancy also helped me better understand the value of design in helping businesses and how it can impact people. So with this in mind, it was a lot easier trying to put myself in others’ shoes to think about how I could design programmes that better address companies’ manpower needs; to help creative professionals stay competitive through relevant training interventions. It was also much easier for me to connect to the creative community, because although I might be doing a different type of work, I meet people that I have actually known for a while since my NUS and designer days.
How did you get into the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA)?
I was in my earlier career working in a design consultancy, and a time where I was considering a job switch. I chanced upon this opening at WDA through recommendation from a friend (who was also working in WDA), and thought it was tailor-made for me since they were looking for someone to perform engagement work for the design sector. I went for the interview, and the rest is history—a meaningful career that I’m seven years into, and for definitely many more years to come.
What made you choose DID?
Since primary school, art was the subject that was kind of my favourite and an area that I continued to excel in all the way till junior college. So I was actually looking out for a course that was very much related to art and creativity. When DID came up I thought it was a perfect match for me.
Now being in WDA, do you miss that kind of really artistic approach in design?
I do and yes I am still able to express my artistic side in little ways, such as through presentation materials—simple as it may sound, there’s a lot of art and science going into how to make presentation content clearer and more concise through visuals and graphics, and that is design in itself. Also within the team, every year we make a conscious effort to embark on a special project such as a creative calendar or creative toolkit. We try to be daring and move away from conventional collateral and brochures to develop something more interesting and useful so that people will love and keep it. There are people who actually follow and collect our collateral.
Looking back at DID again, what was one of the most meaningful or interesting projects that you worked on?
Probably it’s in Year 2 when it was the first time we embarked on some kind of group project and it was pair work. That was when I met my wife-to-be. We were sort of matched through a draw. We worked on an easel project; a drawing tool for kids. It was the first time that we developed a real physical product because prior to that we had worked a lot on semantics, form understanding and research. So that was one of the first few projects where we were required to make a product, test it and make sure it worked. There was a lot of interaction and exploration involved in trying to get a product to work, so a lot of groundwork was done—we actually got children to try different iterations of the product, to validate it.
Memorable also because you worked with an awesome partner.
Haha! Of course.
So the easel was one of the most meaningful projects, because you had to do a lot of groundwork?
Yes, that was the first time we went through the entire design process—what we now call the design thinking or design innovation process—where we really needed to get our hands on it, get feedback, and if it didn’t work, we had to redo it, change something.
In DID what was your most-loved tool to use?
Copic markers. Whenever I did something well, or when I finished a presentation, I would reward myself by buying Copic markers. Probably because of my art background, I feel that Copic markers can help me express my thoughts very well. So if I could get just one or two more, that would make my day.
Have you reached any personal milestones since graduating from DID?
You know in Chinese there’s this idiom 成家立业 (chénɡ jia lì yè)—you start your family before you build your career. So not only have I married, I now have a lovely three-year-old boy. Career-wise, I have just embarked on a new journey at WDA, and am now with the campus division stationed at the Lifelong Learning Institute, one of WDA’s CET campuses. I see this as a timely move, and am part of career development and growth. I look forward to sharing more exciting stories on my journey at the campus in the near future.
What do you think is essential for someone to possess, to be able to move from DID to another industry, such as WDA?
First, you must believe that design is actually a tool that is quite borderless. “Transferable” is the more technical term. Design has moved beyond boundaries and is not only relevant for designers or the design sector. I also realised that the way you think about how to solve a problem, how to create solutions—the process itself, the thought behind it—is very much applicable to almost anywhere you go. So that is believing in yourself and believing in design as an enabler and a tool. And this is something that I have witnessed in many of my peers who, although not in the design scene, are valued in their own industries. That’s why I think design is something useful that stays with you. It’s just like swimming or cycling—once you learn it, it will never go away.