Smooth Sailing


MPA was established in 1996 with the aim of developing Singapore as a premier global hub port and international maritime centre, as well as safeguarding and advancing Singapore’s strategic maritime interests. Read on to find out if you have got what it takes to join its diverse team.

By Ernest Eng

As the driving force behind Singapore’s port and maritime development, The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) partners with the maritime industry and other agencies to enhance safety, security and environmental protection in our port waters, facilitate port operations and growth, expand the ever-growing cluster of maritime services in Singapore, as well as promote maritime R&D and manpower development.

When BrightSparks last spoke to Ng Yi Han, he was a budding R&D executive with MPA’s Technology division. Then, he was involved in the allocation of the $100 million Maritime Innovation and Technology (MINT) fund to deserving companies in the maritime industry.

One of the roles of the Technology division was to manage and administrate the fund in order to support both industry participants and tertiary institutes in their respective project work and testing of new technologies. By working closely with industry researchers and keeping tabs on technology trends that could be adopted, Yi Han’s role was to help drive maritime R&D in the right direction.

At 32 years of age, Yi Han is experiencing a fulfilling career progression under MPA’s scholarship programme. In line with MPA’s aim to ensure that all its scholars obtain a wide breath of knowledge within the organisation, they are scheduled for job rotation every few years. Moving around the various departments gives MPA scholars the chance to gain professional exposure to different facets of the organisation, and ultimately equips them with the experience to excel in the organisation.

Working with the Chief
After his stint in the Technology division, Yi Han was elected to work in the Chief Executive (CE) Office, working directly with MPA’s senior management to develop strategies, drive agendas and implement initiatives.

Yi Han shares on some of the projects he has undertaken: “I worked on improving MPA’s feedback system for a more structured way of responding to feedback from the public, and also helped in the setting up of the Singapore Maritime Gallery, which is aimed at raising public awareness of the maritime industry in Singapore.”

Finally, in collaboration with other local agencies such as the Economic Development Board (EDB) and Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Yi Han worked to establish the recently incorporated Singapore Maritime Institute (SMI).

He explains, “At the moment, I’m focusing on developing knowledge and awareness of trends in the port and maritime industry. SMI coordinates and drives institutes of higher learning so that education and training initiatives may be fulfilled through the universities and polytechnics.” For example, part of his job scope today also sees him serving as the account manager for Nanyang Technological University (NTU), working together with the university to drive common educational objectives.

Great Things Come in Small Sizes
At a tender age of 16, Adelene Lum already knew that the maritime industry was where she wanted to carve out a niche for herself.

“During my time at Singapore Polytechnic, I remember visiting the Singapore Marine Academy and I was instantly drawn to it,” says Adelene. She enrolled for a course in Maritime Transportation Management that matched her interests as it would give her an insight into the business end of the maritime industry.

For those who might have a male-dominated impression of the maritime industry, this pint-sized 24-year-old is quick to dispel any doubt that the ladies can do just as good a job – assuming they have the passion for it.

When she was subsequently awarded the MPA Scholarship, Adelene quickly proved that following her instincts would pay off. During her days as an intern, one of her tasks saw her involved in the production of a 5-year bunker masterplan. She also went on to obtain a first-class honours in Maritime Business and Maritime Law from the University of Plymouth and has just returned to commence her term as a Management Executive in the Marine Services Department.

Her work at the moment revolves around the reviewing of policies in the bunkering sector. “As a statutory board, we need to know where the industry ought to be heading,” Adelene explains.

“Apart from examining current policies to see if they’re still relevant, we carry out studies along with developing schemes and incentives in order to move the industry in a certain direction so that we maintain Singapore’s prominence in the maritime industry.”

Part of a Whole
Adelene is quick to point out how far-reaching MPA’s actions are and therefore how important it is to engage the industry in her present role.

She says, “The maritime industry is completely interlinked. When we think through policies or initiatives, there can be a lot of potential repercussions along the line and the passing of policies will have industry-wide effects.”

While policymaking may sound like a daunting task, it has brought her a great deal of satisfaction. “When you work closely with the maritime industry, come up with policies to shape the industry and receive support from the relevant parties, that can be intensely gratifying,” smiles Adelene. Her work often sees her engaging members of the bunkering industry in feedback sessions in order to identify exactly what needs to be done.

“Maritime is an extremely close-knit industry where people of all backgrounds contribute their energies and efforts. And while it’s good to start with interest and passion for maritime, you’d be surprised how much it grows on you too,” Adelene says contentedly.

The maritime industry is a dynamic and diverse one, encompassing knowledge and expertise across a myriad of fields. “Economists, engineers, business school graduates and even lawyers; wherever your interests lie, there is certain to be a role that suits you,” adds Yi Han, a computer engineer by training.

A Future Awaits
Adelene and Yi Han are both in agreement that the prospect of making a difference in the maritime industry is what drives them to excel in their careers. “I love my job because whilst Singapore has a rich maritime history, the future is still bright with possibilities,” says Adelene.

Yi Han concurs, “The world has much to look forward to from the maritime industry, and I am glad to be at the forefront of future developments and change.”

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