SCHOLARS OF A*STAR: Dr Lee Hui Mien, Formerly from SIMTech
The A*STAR Graduate Academy provides scholarships and fellowships to enable young aspiring scientific talent to pursue their passion in science and prepare them for a rewarding career in research and development (R&D).
Meet our scholars and find out how an A*STAR scholarship has helped them in their R&D careers.
Dr Lee Hui Mien, Former Scientist at A*STAR’s Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech)
Vice President & Team Lead at Sustainable Solutions, Mandai Park Development
Q: Why did you choose to pursue your degree and eventually a PhD in Electrical & Electronic Engineering (EEE)?
A: As an inherently curious person, I always like to know how things work, and engineering fits the criteria. After studying common engineering at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) for a year, I realised that my inclination and skillsets were more suited for Electrical & Electronic Engineering (EEE). My background in common engineering was very beneficial to my work in sustainability as this is a highly interdependent field that combines both hard and soft science for solutions. Being able to appreciate the technical sides of sustainability enable me to grasp the concepts and issues faster. It is also a developing field with great potential to contribute positively to sustainable development.
Q: What are some of your most notable achievements?
A: My first project upon graduation in 2008 was a partnership with Nanyang Optical to develop the world’s first almost 100% recycled eyewear frame. Our team won several awards for this innovation, including the A*STAR’s Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech) Award 2008 (Industry) Merit and the 2008 International Optical Show in Milan. During my time in SIMTech, I was instrumental in setting up the Sustainable Manufacturing Centre in 2009, which won the MTI Borderless Award in 2010.
Hui Mien has a strong passion towards environmental protection and sustainability. She took her Ph.D topic on analytical tools for product sustainability when the area was not well recognised for its importance. She joined SIMTech after her Ph.D, and continued her research in the field. During her time in SIMTech, she explored and developed assessment methods for product eco-performances, and actively involved in the promotion of sustainable manufacturing in local industries.
– Dr Song Bin, Senior Scientist, SIMTech
As the Head of Sustainability at IKEA Southeast Asia from 2013 to 2017, I helped set up the regional plan and framework for IKEA Southeast Asia, which integrated sustainability into everyday work.
As a lead for sustainable solutions at Mandai Park Development, where I am today, I was one of nine sustainability executives selected for the Eco-Business A-List 2019. The list recognises influential individuals in the Asia Pacific who advance sustainability in their respective businesses and industries.
Dr Lee speaking at the A*STAR Scientific Conference in 2019
Q: What does the A*STAR scholarship mean to you?
A: It is a pathway to many opportunities, exposure and possibilities. It allowed me to pursue and explore exciting research, combine my passion and career, and at the same time contribute to a greater purpose. I particularly appreciated the postdoc opportunity where I spent time in New York and Sweden to broaden my perspectives. The two years have given me much personal growth and development and enhanced my experience in electronic waste management systems.
Q: Tell us more about your career journey beyond A*STAR.
A: Back in 2013, I had the opportunity to join IKEA Southeast Asia to lead the regional agenda for sustainability. At that time, there were not many companies with sustainability positions available, and I had always wanted to gain more industrial exposure in this area to enrich my perspectives and create impact. As a global brand and leader in sustainability, IKEA provided me with a platform to learn and directly impact customers’ lives.
In 2017, I joined the Sustainable Solutions team at Mandai Park Development. It has been a journey of growth, both personally and professionally. My team looks after the sustainability aspects of the Mandai precinct from design to development to operations. Our goal at Mandai is to operate and develop responsibly and embrace sustainability best practices for the long term.
Being one of the pioneers in circular economy and sustainable product development in Singapore, I believe it is important to help build up the younger generation’s understanding of sustainability design. Therefore, I have also guest lectured a module on remanufacturing and designing for sustainability for two years at The Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT).
Q: Your thoughts on solving global issues and responding to national contingencies.
A: No matter how big the issues may seem, every one of us can make a difference in one way or another. Hence, our collective efforts to work towards a solution is essential. One such issue would be combating climate change.
Q: What keeps you occupied outside of work?
A: I like the outdoors and enjoy travelling to experience different cultures and environments. Back home, I bowl, jog and read, in addition to catching up with friends and family. I also volunteer at the Southwest CDC as a District Councillor and serve as a member at NTU Alumni Council and National Youth Achievement Award Council.
Q: If you could invent something for the betterment of the world, what would it be?
A: An innovation that can convert excessive carbon emissions into something useful and reverse climate change.
Q: What would you say to your younger self?
A: Keep pursuing our passion; recognise that there are many perspectives to a situation.
Q: Any words of advice for new scholars interested in sustainability?
A: The sky is the limit. Focus on the topic you like, and always find ways to make your research more sustainable.