Deputy Secretary (Industry & Information)

Ministry of Communications & Information

Aaron Maniam was awarded the Singapore Public Service Commission’s Overseas Merit Scholarship in 1998, graduating in 2001 with double First Class Honours in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) from Somerville College, Oxford, where he was a Coombs Scholar and held the Mary Somerville prize for academic excellence. He was President of the Oxford Economics Society in 2000. In 2002, he received a Master of Arts degree in International and Development Economics from Yale University. He received a Master of Public Policy (with Distinction) from Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government (BSG) in 2014, which he attended on a Lee Kuan Yew Postgraduate Scholarship from the Singapore government. He is currently completing a PhD at the Blavatnik School, which involves a comparative study of the digital transformation of public sector agencies in Estonia, New Zealand and Singapore.

Aaron’s current work at MCI involves overseeing policy on the digital economy, building societal digital literacy, and digital diplomacy. He joined the Singapore government in 2004, serving on the North America Desk of the Foreign Service (2004-2006) and at Singapore’s Embassy in Washington DC (2006-2008), where he was the principal coordinator for Congressional liaison and issues relating to the Middle East. He was posted to the Strategic Policy Office (SPO) at the Public Service Division in 2008, where he worked on scenario planning and analysis of long-term trends relevant to Singapore. He was appointed the first Head of the Singapore Government’s newly-formed Centre for Strategic Futures (CSF) in January 2010, while retaining his SPO portfolio. In July 2011, Aaron was appointed Director of the Institute of Policy Development (later renamed the Institute of Public Sector Leadership) at the Civil Service College (CSC), which organizes leadership training programmes for public sector talent (the top 1% of the public sector workforce). In 2012, he started the CSC Applied Simulation Training (CAST) Laboratory, an experiment to apply principles of “serious play” to training public officers to deal with complex environments. He led efforts to develop the College’s curriculum on complexity science, and convened the College’s multi-sector interest groups on Complexity and Governance. As Senior Director (Industry) at Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry (2014-2017), he was responsible for coordinating economic policies and regulating the manufacturing, services and tourism sectors, as well overseeing long-term economic transformation.

Outside work, Aaron served on Singapore’s National Youth Council (NYC), the apex policy-making body for youth issues in Singapore (2009-2013). From 2009 to 2013, he chaired the Advisory Panel for the “NYC Academy”, an idea he mooted in late-2009 to systematically build capability in Singapore’s youth sector. He is active with Singapore’s Muslim and Indian minority communities, having served as President of Mendaki Club (a group of young Muslim professionals) and the Youth Club of the Singapore Indian Development Association (SINDA), as well as in debating and creative writing circles, where he is an award-winning poet. He is an active facilitator in citizen engagement processes, as well as interfaith dialogue, including leading the facilitation teams for several UnConferences.

Aaron volunteers in education-related causes. He teaches “Leadership in a Complex World” and “Polycentric Governance” (at the National University of Singapore’s Scholars’ Programme) and previously taught “New Thinking in Governance” (at the Singapore Management University). He is a Governor of Raffles Institution, Singapore’s oldest secondary school. He has served on the School Advisory Committee of Temasek Primary School and the Ministry of Education’s National Education Review Committee.

In January 2011, Aaron was one of eight young leaders named an “Outstanding Young Singaporean” by the Orchid Jayceettes of Singapore. In June 2012, he was conferred the Singapore Youth Award, the highest national honour for young people who exemplify excellence in their professional lives and community work, by the Prime Minister. He was identified by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader in January 2013. In June 2015, he was appointed a Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA).

He has hosted three television documentaries to date: The Big Questions: The Future of Work (2018), Work Is A Four Letter Word (2019), and Chasing Scarcity (2020), all aired on Channel News Asia.