As a Deputy Director of Media Relations for the Land Transport Authority, Aaron Chong (MMC’11) is always keen to help the public understand public policies better. PHOTO COURTESY OF: AARON CHONG
Aaron Chong knows all too well that a communications career in the public sector can be a challenging one.
“Whether you take a bus, ride a train, hail a Uber, ride a bicycle, use an electric scooter or simply just walking on the pavements, you will come into contact with something that we do at LTA,” said Chong, who is the Deputy Director of Media Relations at the Land Transport Authority.
“We have to be prepared for any unexpected situations, and always be ready to respond to such situations. [We need] to know exactly what to do, what to say, should anything happen,” he added.
Yet, it is a career he has passionately pursued over the past 14 years. A growing number of MMC programme graduates from the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information have gone on to assume leadership roles for communications teams in the public sector. Other graduates in similar fields include Group Director (Corporate Development) for the Building and Construction Authority Jeanna Das, as well as Norshima Aziz, Deputy Director of the Corporate Communications Department at Yayasan MENDAKI.
“Communications work is always challenging. We’re kind of like the bridge between our internal and external stakeholders, so we always need to be wary of what we say,” said Jeanna Das (MMC’15). “It is not easy but since we don’t just look at a single issue but the organisation as a whole, sometimes we just have to learn very fast! We kind of become experts at everything.”
As public sector leaders in the communication field, they all share a common goal: maintaining the balancing act of what to say, how much to say; while ensuring that the image of their organisation is retained.
“We try to help the public better understand what we do, why some policies are taken or simply help them understand our projects and the challenges we face,” Chong said. “To truly be able to appreciate land transport issues, you have be a bit of everything – an engineer, an economist, a planner, and most importantly a user of the system.”
“We try to help the public better understand what we do, why some policies are taken or simply help them understand our projects and the challenges we face.”
Chong, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communication studies from WKWSCI, said that he always wanted to pursue a career in communications. “Honestly, it was a choice between a job as a journalist or as a corporate communications professional. It just so happened,” he said.
Before joining LTA in 2006, Chong was with the corporate communications department in Singapore Polytechnic. In 2009, he decided to enrol in the MMC programme part-time to further strengthen his expertise in communications. “I decided that it was the right time to go back to school,” said Chong.
The MMC programme, which focuses on media studies and strategic communication in Singapore and Asia, was designed to expose students to theories, research and practice applicable to the workplace.
“I had a better understanding of certain communications theories, which I didn’t appreciate as much during my undergraduate days. When you are able to relate your experience in practice to the theories you learn in your textbooks, the learning journey becomes a lot more enriching,” said Chong.