NSmen Share: How NS Helped My Career

NSmen on how lessons learnt in camp remained relevant when they joined the workforce.

By Mandy Lim Beitler        24 May 2022

Like any rite of passage, serving NS is a learning journey in many ways. These men share how their experiences in NS made a difference in their careers afterwards.


“My kids today are blessed with the latest gadgets from mobile phones to tablets, and their definition of ‘Apple’ is very different. For me, growing up as Gen X-er meant hours of cartoons and movies, such as my favourite He-Man, Care Bears and Smurfs, on the TV.

After BMT, I was posted to another division and was to report to a Captain. An hour after introduction, he called me on the phone, asking me to look for a particular folder. ‘Inside is a document containing a name list – read them out as I need them urgently,’ he said.

While he remained on the line, I immediately began searching frantically around the office. Sweating buckets, I looked everywhere, but just could not find the folder. After five minutes, he gave up, hung up on me and ran back to the office. He asked where I had been searching and without hesitation, I pointed at his cabinet.

I saw his face twist, before he put his arm around my shoulders, looked into my eyes and exclaimed, ‘Colin, we are in deep trouble!’ He continued, ‘I am the System Administrator of the XXX Division and you, as my backup, should be proficient in computers, which you are NOT.’

Only then did I realise that he had been asking for a digital file in his computer, not a physical folder in a filing cabinet! I was so embarrassed. On the same day, I signed up for multiple computer courses and spent the next few months enriching myself with digital knowledge.

This is one important episode of my life which I love to share, one that I learnt during NS that greatly influenced my career and life after. In fact, now as I work from home, it is utilising the very knowledge that I humbly learnt during that day in NS.” – Colin Goh, Head, Technology & Services, served NS from 1997 to 2000


“The Singapore Armoured Regiment’s motto ‘Swift and Decisive’ reminds me to capitalise on opportunities presented in front of me. That has helped me to reach different levels of breakthroughs in various aspects of both my personal and professional life.

Most importantly, the relationships forged with my leaders and fellow NS men made the whole experience meaningful and worthwhile. Serving together showed me how important it is to be people-oriented, something that has helped me immensely in my career as a financial advisor.

Besides empowering others in making informed financial decisions, I’m also a financial services manager leading a team of new generation financial advisors, and that’s another area where the people skills I picked up during NS has come in handy.” – Willis Lau, Certified Financial Planner (MSG, 473 SAR)

Melvin Ang (front row, first from right)

“I worked with a CSM who shared these wise words with a group of specialists (myself included) when we were preparing for a unit assessment: ‘When you’ve done all you are supposed to do, the only thing you need is to stay positive.’

NS teaches you many things that will be useful in your career, but I think one of the greatest skills you can learn is having a positive mindset. It will carry you through the tedium of routine and motivate you when you are faced with bigger challenges in the office or elsewhere.” – Melvin Ang, Marketing and Communications Specialist (3SG, 700SIR/1SIR)


There are only two types of people in Singapore: Those who enjoyed National Service (NS), and those who didn’t – but all will agree it was a memorable time. In this series, we speak with NSmen who share their most memorable experiences during National Service.

Share your favourite NS memories with us at magnsman@sph.com.sg!

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Main photo: Singapore Press Holdings