BES Interview with Delaney Eng

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Name: Delaney Eng

Specialization in BES: Biology

Dream Job or Organization: Environmental Consultancy

Actual Job and Organization: Manager in a private development project team

Must-have snack or dish in NUS: Dory Fish with buttered corn and boiled carrots from Western Stall at Science Canteen

Favourite module in NUS: ENV3102 (Environmental Challenges: Asian Case Studies II)

Favourite hangout in/around NUS: Humble Origins at Ventus


Tell us more about your job now and what you’ve been up to since NUS? 

I haven’t been up to much since graduation, besides going for my grad trip and whiling away my remaining free time. In the meantime I also took up some volunteer stints for nature-related events/initiatives here and there.

As for my job, I work mainly on environment-related aspects of the project but also get the opportunity to be involved in other streams of work. I work with an interesting team of people with diverse backgrounds and disciplines. We learn together and about each other everyday and there is a wealth of experience to tap from each individual.


How long did it take you to realize that’s what you wanted to do? 

While we strive to get the ideal job, we don’t always get to do everything we want but exposure to new, unexpected things may help you discover something enjoyable that you hadn’t thought of before. Often, certain aspects of a particular job may not be ideal or something you did not anticipate, but I believe all that comes with the package. I don’t think there was a particular eureka moment and I’d say that this process of discovery is ongoing but I’m more than happy with what I’m currently doing, and I do derive a sense of satisfaction from achievements at work.


For you, what are the differences between school and life now? 

Back in school, second chances come relatively easier. When I didn’t do well for a test, I could try to buck up and attempt to pull my grades up with another assignment. To some extent, we had the liberty to choose modules we preferred and could potentially do better in, so that we could compensate for other compulsory modules that we may not enjoy. In work life, every action or decision has to be given much more thought because the immediate consequence is real and mistakes could cost you valuable time, effort and money — and most of the time, we don’t get to choose our tasks, the tasks choose us.

I also value my weekends more than before and I now strive to keep weekends work-free (where possible). From a student’s point of view where weekends are meant for rushing deadlines, this could be considered a luxury 😉


To date, what’s the most challenging task you’ve been asked to do at your workplace? 

This is not so much a specific task but rather, a long-drawn process — that is working with people and maintaining relationships in the working environment. Currently a large part of my job involves quite some co-ordination between various groups of people, both internally and externally. As with many other large projects with many stakeholders working together, everyone would rightly have their own interests to protect and defend. While we are often caught up with our own deadlines or expectations to meet, we have to continue maintaining relationships with care by respecting the diversity of views and values and yet not overly compromise on the standards we set out to achieve. This is because each stakeholder has an important role to play and ought to feel valued within the organization/project to allow them to continue providing support and contribute meaningfully to a common goal


How do you think studying under BES gave you an edge over others? 

I feel that open-mindedness is a key trait that I think BES students come to possess, as a result of the multi-disciplinary nature of our course. I know this may be overly cited but at least, for me, it’s quite true. While our focus is on the environment, we tend not to readily accept a one-sided view on things but rather, take a step back to consider the bigger picture. On a more personal level, it also gives us that kind of flexibility and willingness to explore and venture into something unfamiliar and taking up new challenges


Any words of advice for our current undergraduates? 

Interestingly, my office’s toilet doors have weekly inspirational quotes pasted on it and during one fateful toilet visit, this particular quote really struck me, “Always be like a duck — keep calm and unruffled on the surface but paddle like the devil underneath.” I am someone who usually freaks out in the face of unexpected events and challenges and am often unable to respond in a calm and collected manner. However, since then, I’ve tried to internalize it and cheesy as it may sound, I’ve found that it did help somewhat in steadying myself in the face of difficulties and improving my ability to handle or resolve issues when under pressure. It’s also about knowing how to channel fear/passion/anger in the right manner for a more effective, meaningful outcome. For some, our blood might be boiling, our heart thumping (I exaggerate) at some environmental injustice somewhere out there that spurs us into action but ultimately, always take a deep breath and go back to your brain for the cool-headed solution. On a more practical note, with regards to school and job searches, just keep paddling — you’ll get there.


Lastly, your best memory concerning BES.

Snorkling with my friends in the clear blue seas of Bohol.


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