An industrial chemist by training, Dr Lai is also a chartered chemist and a member of the Royal Institute of Chemistry (MRIC). Before joining the former Singapore Institute of Standards and Industrial Research (SISIR) in 1985, he spent more than 6 years in research & development, working in the field of drug discovery at G.D. Searle, UK, and quality assurance in pharmaceutical manufacturing in Pfizer Central Research, UK.
Dr Lai has been involved extensively in the standardisation, technical transfer and collaboration of programmes with major metrology, testing and technology institutions, universities and companies.
He was also a board member of several local and regional organisations and companies operating in Asia, including the Regional Institute of Environmental Technology and led several consulting projects for the World Bank.
From 2007 to 2012, Dr Lai served as the Chief Executive Officer of PSB Academy Pte Ltd.
He was given the Singapore Ministry of the Environment’s Green Lead Award (Individual) for his contributions to eco-labelling and the environmental movement. He also received the Silver Public Service Award in 1997 from the Singapore Government.