A World of Opportunities
Taking up a scholarship is not just about positioning yourself for that perfect career. It is also about the journey and the opportunities that are offered to you. Two CAG scholars tell us how their scholarship programme opened up a world of opportunities for them.
By Jenny Mak
Not many people can claim to have a butterfly garden at their workplace. For that matter, not many people can say they work at a multiple-award winning airport that is both an iconic symbol and a source of national pride.
But for Seoh Zhi Wen and Stephanie Sim, these are just two such opportunities they have enjoyed since accepting the Changi Airport Group (CAG) scholarship.
A unique working environment
“The opportunity to work for one of the top airports in the world is definitely one of the many pull factors of the scholarship,” says 21-year-old Stephanie, a CAG overseas undergraduate scholar.
“I am drawn to find out more about how the airport operates in the aviation industry and its interaction with airlines, governments and international organisations.”
28-year-old Zhi Wen agrees.
“I was delighted and very excited at the thought of being able to work in the World’s Best Airport,” he enthuses. “Changi Airport is probably the most scenic and conducive place to start your day at work!”
However, the charming work environment is not just the only attraction factor of becoming a CAG scholar.
An education unlike the rest
From the chance of studying abroad full-time or the opportunity to attending overseas student exchange programmes and summer schools, the CAG scholarship covers these bases.
While pursuing her degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from the University of Warwick, Stephanie also applied for a summer programme at Peking University with support and sponsorship from CAG.
Her time in China gave her many memorable experiences, including a twenty-six-hour train ride from Beijing to Chengdu that saw her discussing Chinese culture and history with a group of local university students over cup noodles and local card games.
“It was an eye-opening experience,” she enthuses. “(The summer programme) allowed me to truly make the best out of my university experience.”
Coupled with her interests in the politics and economics of China, Stephanie will be embarking on a Master’s degree programme in Modern Chinese Studies at the University of Oxford this September.
Like before, CAG showed its support and is sponsoring her Master’s degree studies. Stephanie appreciates the opportunity to develop herself further and to better contribute to CAG in the near future.
“Because I am given ownership over my choice of studies,” she says, “I feel valued for the unique skills I can offer to CAG after I graduate.”
Discovering the possibilities
To prepare its scholars for working life, CAG sends them on well-structured internships within and across different divisions. This helped to nurture Stephanie’s confidence and self-initiative and allowed her to identify the areas of work she has interest in.
Stephanie got a taste of working at CAG through two internships during her academic term. She prepared business cases at the Airline Development Division for the World Routes Development Forum held in September 2009 and studied the sale analysis at the Commercial Division to understand shop sales and its relation to passenger profile.
“I was constantly learning and always challenged to contribute my own ideas,” she says. “Learning in an environment where your opinions are valued made the internships a very enriching experience for me.”
Diverse job opportunities
Gaining varied experiences through job rotations, secondments to CAG’s subsidiary (Changi Airport International), overseas assignments, conferences and sponsorship for further studies are some of the plethora of opportunities scholars can look forward to.
CAG employees get ample opportunities to participate in projects on an international scale and these myriad of opportunities enabled Zhi Wen to develop his potential.
“When I just graduated, I took on the airport master panning portfolio and was assigned with challenging responsibilities to take charge of airside safety management. I was also given the opportunity to participate in overseas airport consultancy and investment projects,” he says.
The dedicated guidance he received from his bosses helped him tremendously during this period.
“I look into demand and capacity issues, simulation studies as well as design service levels. I also visit terminals and airfield to understand the grounds,” he says.
“On top of that, I meet different stakeholders to ensure that airport land use and infrastructural development are planned and carried out in a coherent, coordinated and optimised manner in line with aviation industry needs.”
“Time really flies at CAG as you are kept busy with new challenges and tasks every day,” he quips.
After three years in his role, Zhi Wen was recently rotated to another unit under the Engineering Division. He is now a Manager in Specialised Systems in charge of aerobridges and skytrain systems.
Making a difference
There is no question that both scholars have benefited much from the CAG scholarship. As a path into the modern aviation industry, the scholarship programme — multi-faceted and considerate of its scholars’ needs — is a great opportunity in itself.
Particularly since the recent corporatisation of CAG, Stephanie notes that the future promises to be very exciting for the company.
“CAG is going through many changes,” she says. “There are now much unchartered waters to explore.”
Zhi Wen, who was involved in the CAG corporatisation exercise, agrees. He notes how active CAG is in various aspects of the local and international aviation industry.
“We drive Changi Airport’s growth by developing new air routes, we manage one of the largest retail spaces in Singapore, and we even help to plan and manage overseas airports.”
Zhi Wen also highlights the enthusiasm of the CAG employees as an integral part of the company’s ongoing success.
“I could see highly motivated individuals who have a genuine passion for their work and helpful individuals helping one another,” he says. “CAG is an organisation which values its people.”
For potential scholars, Zhi Wen encapsulates the CAG scholarship in one sentence.
“You can expect your career in CAG to be a fulfilling, challenging, and exciting journey of learning and self-discovery,” he says.