Bold new careers for a brave new world

Results of a biomimicry approach to sustainable design: (from top to bottom) an energy-efficient impeller inspired by a seashell, a paint inspired by lotus leaves and an IoT network inspired by bee behaviour. (Screenshots of GCEO’s presentation)

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The built environment sector may be perceived as a brick-and-mortar business but digital technology is fast changing handsets, skill sets and mindsets. Drones are used to monitoring the progress of land reclamation of Singapore’s west, for instance, while IoT sensors across all the various critical assets give asset owners and operators a view of the diagnostics all at a glance on handheld devices. 

Increasingly, designers are also turning to biomimicry – the design of structures, systems, and processes that are inspired by biological entities and processes – to find more sustainable solutions. These include designs for self-cleaning paint and water impellers that move millions of liters of water with just enough electricity to power two light bulbs and housing inspired by bees (see illustrations above).

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(From left to right) The panel discussion was moderated by Samir Bedi, Partner, ASEAN Workforce Advisory Leader with Ernst & Young Advisory Pte Ltd, featuring NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng, Monetary Authority of Singapore Chief Fintech Officer Sopnendu Mohanty and Surbana Jurong GCEO Wong Heang Fine (below)

WONG Heang Fine

These are just some examples of the brave new world of green technology that the built environment industry is witnessing, said Surbana Jurong Group CEO Wong Heang Fine at LIT Discovery 2021, a recent career symposium which was graced by Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Heng Sweet Keat. He was speaking in a panel on “The Future Redefined: Sectors that are here to stay” with NTUC secretary-general Ng Chee Meng and the Chief Fintech Officer at the Monetary Authority of Singapore Sopnendu Mohanty. The moderator was Samir Bedi, Partner, ASEAN Workforce Advisory Leader with Ernst & Young Advisory Pte Ltd.

Opportunities for career growth

In fact, as green growth in the region could trigger $1.3 trillion in annual economic benefits, said Mr Heng in his keynote speech, youths keen on careers in the digital scene can tap on many opportunities to grow their expertise and engage in lifelong learning. Mr Heng is also the Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies. 

“I think in the next five to 10 years, we are undergoing rapid transformation, and the digital approach and the drive for sustainability are going to dictate a lot of things that we do,” said Heang Fine with excitement. “[An example is how] we study bees, how they network together and create an IoT platform to talk to each other. In fact, we proposed a new form of talent housing [project in] Shenzhen, based on beehives and how the bees work.”

During Q&A, when a participant shared that the attention span of employees has become shorter, Mr Wong quipped, “Like the Deputy PM says, we are all learning every day. We should keep that learning spirit, accumulate our knowledge as we don’t know when it will be helpful. So it’s important to keep learning as we go.”

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About the SJ Connects e-newsletter: SJ Connects is published monthly by the Surbana Jurong Group, a global urban, infrastructure and managed services consulting firm, with over 70 years of track record in successful project delivery. Headquartered in Singapore, the group has a global talent pool of 16,000 across Surbana Jurong and our member companies AETOS, Atelier Ten, B+H, KTP, Prostruct, RBG, SAA, Sino-Sun and SMEC, based in over 40 countries. We provide a full suite of multidisciplinary consultancy services across aviation, healthcare, hospitality, transport, water and environment as well as energy and resources. Our technical teams include architects, designers, planners, engineers and other specialists driven by progressive thinking and creative ideas in our mission of “Building Cities, Shaping Lives”.