The Unsung Heroes of Innovation

They are the heroes behind the scenes ensuring the smooth operations of our corporate functions. Often, their presence may be overlooked or, at times, taken for granted.

Find out how our corporate services colleagues stay passionate in what they do and play their part to drive innovation in every small way.

Lydia Sum
Assistant Head, Corporate Communications


Trust, Respect and Camaraderie

At A*STAR, Lydia took on the challenge to understand the inner workings of various technologies, from science and engineering to the biomedical sciences.

Working in A*STAR, there’s never been a dull moment as I’ve had opportunities to work alongside many talented researchers and scientists on their dynamic journey to scientific discovery

Her role in the corporate communications team acts as the brand guardian for A*STAR. It has given her a front-row seat to witness many cutting-edge technologies and changes in the innovation landscape and how A*STAR's R&D capabilities have positively impacted the daily lives of Singaporeans.

"It’s a privilege to witness firsthand how the science translates into impactful outcomes for Singapore, and that has added much meaning to the work that I do.”

Joining A*STAR in late 2008, Lydia has seen it grow and evolve in many ways as an organisation—and yet some things have remained the same.

What's consistent is the culture of trust, respect and camaraderie that my bosses and colleagues have demonstrated; this has made my working experience in A*STAR much more enjoyable and enriching.

Many memories stood out; the fun and bonds cemented by shared memories of social and work events, crazy costumes donned by colleagues during the corporate Dinner and Dance events over the years. Also, milestone events such as the annual President's Science and Technology Awards (PSTA), Singapore Airshow, Opening of Fusionopolis Two, and one-north Festival, where many teams and departments across A*STAR came forward to support the events.

"It's heartening to see everyone come together to achieve BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals) through our collective strengths," shared Lydia.

Ng Aik Harm
Assistant Head, Information Technology

Aik Harm_NZ6_0770

Innovating to Learn

The allure of a unique work environment steeped in innovation and new possibilities first attracted Aik Harm. Before he knew it, he has become one of A*STAR's longest-serving employees.

"I joined Archon IP in 2001, a subsidiary company of the National Science and Technology Board (NSTB), to help set up its IT infrastructure. What I thought would be a straightforward task that would see me moving on within a year has become a 20 year-stint at A*STAR!"

A highlight of Aik Harm's career at A*STAR was the opportunity to support Dr Sydney Brenner, the renowned pioneer in molecular biology. His encounter with the Nobel laureate was a memorable one. Dr Brenner was a giant in the world of science, and he helped put Singapore on the global biomedical map and shaped modern biology by deciphering the genetic code. But Aik Harm recalls with amazement how his ground-breaking work did not require complex IT support.

"The late Dr Sydney Brenner made things simple. For example, he didn't need a notebook computer with all the bells and whistles. Instead, he preferred to work with a simple laptop without the standard office productivity tools."

Aik Harm wishes to have more engineers, undergirded by vigorous promotion of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines among the younger generation. He also hopes to see more national education in science and technology, where the younger generation is involved in the discovery and innovation process with A*STAR scientists.

We need more engineers to create and improve products and test out new ideas for future ecosystems.

Cindy Tan
Assistant Head, Enterprise, A*STAR


It's All About the People

Having been with A*STAR for ten years, Cindy has seen the working environment evolve to focus on staff well-being and more interactions between staff and senior management today. An example that comes to mind is the lunchtime chats hosted by senior management like the Deputy Chief Executives.

"It has been heartening to know that management is concerned about staff well-being, as they take the time out of their busy schedules for such interactions."

Cindy started her career with the A*STAR Graduate Academy (A*GA), where she had the opportunity to manage A*STAR scholars. Subsequently, she joined then-Exploit Technologies (now known as Enterprise) in 2008 to support corporate services, including Administration and Human Resources.

One of Cindy's roles in the Enterprise’s People & Operations team is capability development for colleagues in Enterprise and Research Institutes and helping to manage DXD Hub’s internship programme. Her role has become more meaningful knowing that she contributes to supporting A*STAR in nurturing a pipeline of talents for the R&D ecosystem so that Singapore can maintain its position as one of the most innovative economies in the world.

Training enables the acquisition of new skills and better performance. I'm excited about how my small role in supporting training initiatives is contributing to the bigger picture.

Another highlight for Cindy was the launch of the Fortitude Kit that can detect the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, quickly and with high accuracy.

Many people within and outside of A*STAR were involved in the development of Fortitude Kit. I appreciate the hard work and sacrifices put in by my colleagues in the Diagnostics Development (DxD) Hub and A*ccelerate. It has been wonderful seeing the fruits of their labour and doing good for humanity—kudos to all the people working behind the scenes!