From engineer to HR professional, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

From engineer to HR professional

This article is more than 12 months old

Daphie Tan says good time management was key in attaining certifications in her new field

When she started her career as an engineer, Hyflux human resource (HR) manager Daphie Tan did not foresee becoming a certified HR professional one day.

The 36-year-old made a complete career switch in 2011, moving from engineering to HR.

Looking back, she says the journey has been a rewarding one.

"I wanted to leverage on my strength and ability to engage with people and businesses. Looking at all the possible options back then, I thought HR gave me the most liberty to bring about change in an organisation," said Ms Tan.

After completing her Bachelor of Science in Industrial and System Engineering from Ohio State University, Ms Tan's career took her to the US and Malaysia, along with a brief stint in Indonesia, before she settled in Singapore.

A postgraduate from the Singapore Human Resources Institute, she has worked for over a year at sustainable solutions company Hyflux.

"From possessing a very basic fundamental knowledge of HR up to what I know now, it has been a very steep learning curve. Shadowing my mentors and peer-sharing has equipped me with my skills," she said.

Senior vice-president of HR at Hyflux Jeremy Tan, 44, sees a culture of learning and focus on human capital development in the company.

I was able to identify the gaps in my competency, whether it was being tech-savvy or managing a company's change from one culture to another. Hyflux HR manager Daphie Tan

When he came across a pilot national certification programme for HR professionals, Mr Tan said he was excited by the prospect, and recommended it to his staff.

He said: "The certification was refined with feedback from a committee of business leaders from multinational companies and employees in listed companies here. These are the people on the ground dealing with and solving the problems facing businesses on a day-to-day basis. It was definitely something we supported and wanted to be a part of."

The certification measured the competency of candidates, testing their knowledge, ability to engage and their professional conduct.

For Ms Tan, the certification was an important opportunity to prove her credentials in HR.

She said: "For someone like me, who was coming from an engineering background, I realised this would validate my credentials. It helped me refresh my knowledge and I recognised the high standards and benchmarks of Singapore's HR industry.

"I was able to identify the gaps in my competency, whether it was being tech-savvy or managing a company's change from one culture to another."

Ms Tan plans to take up higher levels of certification in the future.

She said: "In time to come, higher certification still aligns with my long-term career goals.

"HR is my forte and the area I want to focus on and am passionate about."


Ms Tan, who has a four-year-old daughter, said she relied on good time management and the company's support to prepare for the certification.

She would put her daughter to bed at nine before starting her readings for the night.

With the company's approval, Miss Tan and three other colleagues were able to take time off from work for the assessment.

She advises working mothers like her to "take up the commitment and just go for it".

(Above) Hyflux Innovation Centre. PHOTOS: HYFLUX LTD

The certification's adoption will be driven by the Institute for Human Resource Professionals (IHRP), which is set up by tripartite partners Ministry of Manpower, National Trades Union Congress and Singapore National Employers Federation.

IHRP seeks to strengthen the standards of HR practices and professionalise HR in Singapore, keeping in mind the country's human capital development.

It is part of a wider HR Industry Manpower Plan that will be unveiled on Monday.

HR courses to give you an edge

The Institute for Human Resource Professionals (IHRP) certification framework comprises three levels: Certified HR Professional, Certified Senior HR Professional and Certified Master HR Professional.

The individual's job role and its complexity will be used to determine which level of certification he is eligible for.

HR professionals can register their interest in the certification programme at

They can also boost their professional development through training courses by applying for the SkillsFuture Study Award for HR at

To learn more about the initiatives and measures in place to strengthen the HR services sector, the public is invited to visit the HR Industry Manpower Plan interactive showcase, which will be held at the Orchid Ballroom, Level 4, Marina Bay Sands, between 12.30pm and 5.30pm on July 10.

Visit to register for the event.