Mentorship and sharing knowledge are Sunny Tan’s passion. It came as no surprise, therefore, that after graduating from the University of Newcastle (UON), Australia, at PSB Academy in 2012, he took part in the mentoring programme at his alma mater. “I have groomed some of the junior safety professionals who are now successful in their own careers,” testified Sunny Tan proudly.
With a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (EHS) under his belt, Sunny guided the academy’s students on their career path, personal development and so on with his experiences, insights and advice. “Mentoring also contributed to my early career,” he said. “I want to share my experiences to help the juniors understand better what they can do when they graduate. It gives me a sense of fulfilment knowing that I am partly moulding future leaders.”
Currently, Sunny works as the Director of Health, Safety, Security and Environment (HSSE) & Quality (Singapore and Southeast Asia) at C&W Services. When asked what he considered to be his greatest work achievement thus far, he replied, ”Influencing the organisation to adapt to changes and streamlining its activities to achieve a uniform process in the way that safety is integrated into its services.” His role is mostly strategic, which involves anticipating changes in the industry that could potentially affect the way his company’s services are delivered, and also how they will impact workplace safety.
Sunny attributed part of his current success to PSB Academy. “The academy has provided me with a platform where I was able to pursue my ambition to be a successful safety professional. It has also created an opportunity for me to network with fellow alumni.” In particular, he highlighted the modules on Occupational Health, Research Methods in EHS, and Environment Impact Assessment. “These modules are some of those that are closest to my heart, as these helped me in my work activities, especially during the pandemic,” he explained.
How did his journey in studying for the degree course start? “My interest to pursue an education and career in EHS started when Singapore announced that six new sectors will be covered under the Workplace Safety & Health Act (WSHA). As an Operational Leader, I then walked into my general manager’s office and volunteered to conduct a gap analysis for the company to get ready for the implementation and the rest is history,” said Sunny, who got to know of PSB Academy and UON’s degree programme while pursuing his Specialist Diploma in Workplace Safety Health. “I met a group of fellow trainees who have completed their degree at UON. The programme piqued my interest. I did some research on it and found that it suits the path that I have decided to pursue as a safety professional.”
When asked about the popular perception that one’s education in a private education institution will put him or her at a disadvantage when seeking career advancement, Sunny disagreed. “No, I do not feel so. The EHS industry does not have many options for safety professionals to advance their careers, especially in furthering their education. As it evolves, this education now fits nicely into the missing puzzle of tomorrow’s safety leaders. With limited reputable institutions that provide safety professionals with an avenue for educational growth, pursuing them in a private education institution has never been a disadvantage in seeking career advancement. While the EHS industry continues to evolve, the modules that I have taken with PSB Academy and UON have adequately equipped me to be adaptable and fit into the fast-paced industry that we are in at present.”
For fresh graduates who are exploring the EHS sector, Sunny has this advice. “Treat EHS as a passion and not just a profession. Join a company with a heart to care. Technical skills in EHS are needed, but a good attitude in wanting to care is equally important.”