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UCL Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy

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Michael Ben

Executive - Workforce, Talent, and Organization Effectiveness, Sarawak Energy Berhad
MPA in Science, Engineering, and Public Policy - 2019

Sarawak Energy is the primary state-owned utility company responsible for the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity for the state of Sarawak, Malaysia. 

Michael Ben

What were you doing prior to starting the STEaPP MPA?

As an Industrial Engineer, I designed an end-to-end radio frequency identification (RFID) tracking system for clean laundry processing and distribution at client sites and at our main facility, reducing linen loss by up to 10% in its first three months of implementation. 

As Special Assistant to the Private Secretary of the Legislative Member of Sarawak’s 22nd District, Sarawak being my home state, I assisted in the monitoring and implementation of policy objectives, strategies, and operating plans for the Member’s office.

Why did you choose to study at STEaPP?

My industrial and systems engineering background has challenged me to seek the shortest, quickest, cheapest, and best methods to solve the challenges met by modern society. My affinity for public service led me to consider a program which would combine my systems engineering approach in the crafting, correct execution, and implementation of public policy. STEaPP sold me in its name – combining the words engineering and public policy leverages on the best of both worlds. 

What was your favourite aspect of the MPA?

I had the privilege of working with a fantastic team in practicing a form of policy analysis and policy making through a 9-month client project. Our work with the Prime Minister’s Office of the United Arab Emirates represented the best of this opportunity. Interacting with policy experts from the highest levels of government and knowing that our work as MPA students has the potential to contribute to national change, is an experience I will never forget.

How has the STEaPP MPA shaped your experiences since leaving UCL?

Context matters. While there is recognition of traditional Western-based concepts, there needs to be an understanding of how these concepts, theories, models frameworks, and best practices apply in the intersection of cultural, institutional, and political actors unique to a region. In addition, my experiences in STEaPP has pushed me to place greater emphasis on evidence-based decision making. 

What is the one piece of advice you would give to future candidates? 

Be open minded and challenge your own pre-conceived beliefs and inherent biases of how you see the world. This MPA will afford you many opportunities to measure, monitor, revise, and ultimately, reflect on your grand ideas to change the world for the better, one step at a time.