Sharing a love for water

Sharing a love for water

Juggling work and family might be a problem for some, but this couple found a way to make it slightly easier — by working in the same organisation that values work-life harmony.

Sharing a love for water

BALANCING ACT: Married for eight years, Eliyana and James find career satisfaction working for the same organisation.

James Koh Hong Kiah, 36, had graduated from NTU with a Civil Engineering degree back in 2003 before going on to complete his Masters in Environmental Science and Engineering in 2005. In 2008, he joined PUB, Singapore’s national water agency, as an Engineer.

“I’d always been interested in water processes and management, and hence even as an undergradu­ate, I had been taking modules related with water resource management,” he said

“My friends who had been work­ing here before me also said that the supervisors and mentors were friend­ly and willing to share their knowl­edge” he added.

After spending five years with drainage operations, James was posted to drainage construction division last year.

Eliyana Johnson Salim, 33, had worked as a consultant and also in the manufacturing industry af­ter she too graduated with a Civil Engineering degree from NTU.

In 2014, James then persuad­ed his wife to join him at PUB. She now works in the Engineer­ing Development and Procurement Department.

Working in the same organi­sation has been a boon for the university sweethearts.

Finding love

They both met in NTU in their sec­ond year of studies. She had caught his eye during a Computer Program­ming tutorial.

“She was struggling with the module, so I offered to help her with her work. But of course, I had other in­tentions apart from just helping her,” he added sheepishly.

They started dating soon after and haven’t looked back ever since.

The couple tied the knot in 2006 and are now parents of two children, aged two and four.

With two young children, family is their priority. Attaining a good work-life balance is hence a key motivation for the couple when looking for a job.

“As most of our supervisors here at PUB are parents themselves, they understand that we need time with our families,” said Eliyana.

Work in progress

James is now working on the Stamford Detention Tank and Stamford Diversion Canal projects. Both projects are part of a holistic “source-pathway-receptor” approach to strengthen flood protection for the Stamford Ca­nal Catchment, which covers the Orchard Road shopping belt.

Upon completion, the detention tank will capture the excess storm­water from the drains along Holland Road. The diversion canal will be able to divert a third of the stormwa­ter from Stamford Canal Catchment into the Singapore River.

Stamford Detention Tank and Stamford Diversion Canal projects are projected for completion in 2016 and end 2017 respectively.

Making a difference

While a civil engineering degree equips one with the skills to build beautiful malls and houses, James and Eliyana feel that it is more fulfilling to apply their skills on water resource management, because water touches the lives of the people around them.

“We find great satisfaction work­ing in PUB as my contributions im­prove the lives of each and everyone living in Singapore,” said James and Eliyana collectively.

Written by Nazri Eddy Razali © The Nanyang Chronicle
Photo Credit: Mohammad Shybree
Reproduced with thanks from The Nanyang Chronicle.

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