PASSIONATE, positive, nimble, dynamic and adaptable - these are qualities that Mr Audi Fong, senior assistant director of the Industry Division in the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), feels are essential for a career in the civil service.

Mr Fong, 37, heeded the call to join the public sector after seven and a half years in the private sector. He was in research and development and in technology management with a global multinational company.

The public service, comprising 15 ministries, nine organs of state and more than 50 statutory boards, employs 110,000 public officers. Some 18,000 jobs are expected to be available in the public sector over the next two years. Recruitment will be carried out by the respective agencies.

His job with MTI taps on his earlier private sector work. He works with the manufacturing and services group within MTI's Industry Division.

He says: "This is a division that functions as the ministry's counterpart to the Economic Development Board in respective industry clusters, such as biomedical sciences, healthcare services, chemicals, and oil and gas.

"This unit is responsible for the formulation, coordination and review of policies to develop and anchor high value-add industries in Singapore to ensure that value chains are captured on a sustainable basis."

His job also involves the evaluation of incentive proposals aimed at promoting strategic industry development within Singapore.

He made the mid-career switch to join MTI because he was passionately driven by a need to broaden his horizon and expand his job scope, he says.

He was also curious about a career in the civil service, and it prompted him to make the move.

In addition, the civil service job allowed him to balance work and family commitments by giving him more time with his young son and at the same time contribute to shaping the economic development of Singapore.

Since he joined MTI in January last year, Mr Fong says no two workdays are the same for him. For example, he could be desk-bound one day, working through a series of analytical papers, and the next, accompanying a foreign dignitary in an official event.

He adds that although the same general workplace rules apply to both private and public sector jobs, the key difference lies in the scope and breadth of the issues dealt with at the government level.

"They tend to be more macro and long-term in nature. Our 'customers' are the public at large, and the desired outcomes are long-term sustained growth of Singapore's gross domestic product, an abundance of good jobs and opportunities for the population, an increased affluence, and geopolitical stability such that Singaporeans can 'dare to dream'."

Mr Fong, a National University of Singapore valedictorian with a PhD in chemistry, says that a strong desire to serve the greater public good drives him.

"MTI's role as an economic agency, its organisational dynamism and the high quality personnel offer a perfect opportunity to gain mindshare into the complex challenges that confront the Government," he says.

"At MTI, there is always a certain buzz and connectedness in the air - policy desks working feverishly with agencies, inter-ministry groups exchanging viewpoints, industry leaders calling on our ministers and future-oriented discussions with senior management."

Mr Fong thrives on the varied opportunities within his job. This year, he is looking forward to the possibility of meeting the United States' President Barack Obama at the Apec Leaders Week in November, where he will take on the role of liaison officer for Apec.

The public sector aims to attract mid-career professionals such as Mr Fong. To find out more about careers in the public sector, interested applicants can log on to