MTU Asia - People and Power

At MTU Asia, a highly qualified and committed workforce drives the company’s growth. We spoke with three employees, who joined the organisation after graduating with engineering degrees.

By Colin Lim

MTU Asia, located in Singapore, is the regional operational headquarters in Asia and extended arm of MTU Friedrichshafen GmbH. MTU is one of the leading global suppliers of diesel engines and drive systems for applications such as marine, power generation and defense industries. Their product portfolio covers diesel engines of up to 9.100 kW...

For Chew Xiang Yu, 28, the fact that MTU Asia’s parent company hails from Germany strongly attracted him to join the organisation as a Project Engineer in 2005. “Germans are known for their superior engineering standards, so it’s a very good company to base your career on,” said Aimran Alkaff.

Starting early

Xiang Yu chose to study engineering back in 2001, in order to have more job opportunities. In his third year as a Mechanical Engineering undergraduate at NTU, Xiang Yu secured a scholarship offered by the Association of Singapore Marine Industries (ASMI), which came with a one-year bond and with a grant for his final year of studies. Xiang Yu eventually specialised in Marine and Offshore Engineering, and chose to work in MTU Asia as part of his scholarship.

Why MTU? “I was looking at how to apply engineering knowledge into business and commercial aspects,” said Xiang Yu. He also chose MTU Asia over its competitors due to how it would give him the opportunity to engage with clients based abroad, and to get exposure to international cultures.

When it comes to Aimran Alkaff, 27, who also holds an engineering degree from NTU, he felt that an engineering background would suit his interests and provide broader job opportunities. He is also a former ASMI scholar, who chose to work in MTU because of the high standards of know-how and opportunities that the company, a true global player, could offer him.

Meeting requirements

Aimran is currently a Project Engineer in the Sales Centre - Marine of MTU Asia. His job exposes him to the full array of project management. It ranges from supporting his sales colleagues to clinching contracts and to coordinating the actual delivery of engines to the customers. “Even after an order is made, we still see a lot of application engineering works. We address technical queries of our customers with regards to the installation of their engines into the vessels, we perform, for example, torsional vibration calculations and we also work hard on the delivery schedules of our engines,” explained Aimran.

Goh Sew Sen, 31, is a Senior Project Engineer in MTU. Born in Malaysia, she came to Singapore to pursue an Engineering diploma in Ngee Ann Polytechnic, followed by a degree in Mechanical Engineering at NTU. She was offered the opportunity to work with MTU, which is in line with her aspirations to pursue a career related to her studies. Her job now comprises of occasional trips to shipyards.

“Especially for local projects, we go to take a look at the installation process when necessary. We make sure that the installation is done properly to ensure optimum performance of our engines,” said Sew Sen.

Other interesting projects that she undertakes include working out engine and propulsion system replacement solutions on older vessels, which can be quite complex.

Her job also takes her to the MTU headquarters in Germany, when for example, a customer requests to witness the comprehensive testing of their engines at the factory. “From our trips to Germany, we got to know and interact closely with our customers and colleagues we communicate with on a daily basis,” shared Sew Sen.

Beyond engineering

Aimran likes that his job is not strictly constrained to engineering. He said: “We’re exposed to other sales activities as well, which involves communication and negotiation with many different parties, both internal and external.” In this respect, MTU provides ample training opportunities that focus on soft skills.

Xiang Yu adds that working at MTU is a fulfilling experience with great opportunities for learning and career growth. Starting out in Application Engineering, he still remembers the process of learning on the job. “You learn theories in school, but here, you must apply your engineering knowledge simultaneously. It can be really challenging at the start, but with the build up of your knowledge and with the backup of your colleagues, you get familiar with the questions and with the various requirements from our customers,” said Xiang Yu.

Xiang Yu has been working in the Sales department since 2006. Today he is a Senior Sales Engineer. Even though his current role is more “commercial”, Xiang Yu still relies on his engineering knowledge to understand the competitive advantage of the products from MTU. He also finds his engineering background helpful when it comes to convincing customers during contract negotiations.

Being successful in doing so, he experienced increasingly challenging and important negotiations over time, which he also finds rewarding. He said, “I’ve learnt that there are many parties and dynamics involved in every single project. You have to consider all buying criteria so that customers will finally decide to go for your technical solution and not for the one of a competitor."

His job also involves communicating with shipyards, owners and engine designers, who all have different requirements depending on the projects at hand. Being a member of the regional operational headquarters for Asia, he has key responsibilities for marine sales and application engineering projects in up to 23 countries within the Asian region. That includes countries in South East Asia as well as China, Korea, Japan and India.

When asked about what they like most about working in MTU Asia, the three engineers shared different views. Xiang Yu pointed out that employees are very proud to be part of MTU. In his team, they are given plenty of opportunities to spearhead projects and, when needed, mentoring support and guidance from his boss is available.

For Sew Sen, the training and development as well as the welfare available at MTU Asia are also important. “There’s a detailed training plan for each of us every year. In addition, there are also in-house and product-related trainings, which help us to stay at the cutting edge of the engine and electronics technology.”

And for Aimran, besides sharing of knowledge and information, there is also something else which is essential to him. Over time, he has found real friends in his company who provide support and also make work a lot more enjoyable.

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