Where Your Career Takes Off

For many, the airport’s beauty lies in the way it epitomises different experiences of life, from separations and silent tears of longing to reunions and echoing peals of laughter. The airport is the home that greets you after a long, tiring trip and also the gateway that leads you to a world beyond familiar shores.

By Becky Lo

For Singapore, Changi Airport plays an even more important role, catapulting what used to be tropical backwater into an economic powerhouse on the world map.

Managing the smooth day-to-day operations of such an airport – with a total annual handling capacity of more than 70 million passengers – is certainly no easy feat, and it requires the combined efforts of many, including Changi Airport Group (CAG) scholars, Kenneth Seet and Amy Tan, to keep Changi Airport one of the most efficient airports in the world.

What does the CAG scholarship mean to you?
Kenneth: My fascination with the aviation industry started since I was a little boy. Each time I stepped into Changi Airport, I felt a sense of happiness and freedom that no other place has ever given me.

This sentiment stayed with me as I grew up, and even now I still feel a sense of pride knowing that Changi Airport is the world’s most celebrated airport. Hence, I did not hesitate when I was offered the CAG Local Undergraduate Scholarship and the opportunity to be part of the cutting-edge team behind our economic and aviation hub.

Amy: Taking up the CAG Scholarship means that you get to go behind the scenes and understand how a world-class airport is run. You also get to witness how your work impacts and shapes the local and international aviation landscape. What CAG offers is an array of unique career opportunities, be it in operations, business development, or corporate functions such as human resources and finance. Not many organisations offer such diverse opportunities under one roof!

Amy, share with us how your past four years with CAG have been.
Amy: It has been a tremendous learning opportunity. One career ‘milestone’ I recall was our handling of the QF32 incident in 2010, whereby the Qantas pilot made an emergency landing of the A380 aircraft at Changi Airport due to engine failure. Our team had to rush to recover the aircraft and ensure that all passengers were safely evaluated.

I remember running around the tarmac in heels and formal attire, almost melting under the sweltering sun; but the adrenaline rush from focusing on the needs of passengers far outweighed the discomfort of perspiration. The spirit of camaraderie on site as we went about performing our roles was heart-warming and unforgettable.

Kenneth, is this what you envision doing after you graduate and join CAG?
Kenneth: I’m currently reading finance and business so as to keep my career options open; I believe I can draw upon my study experiences to contribute in different ways to whichever CAG division I join. For example, when I went on exchange to Ireland, I met many South American friends who dreamt of coming to Singapore. Since tourism is one of the key pillars driving Singapore’s economy, I would like to leverage on this foreign demand and seek potential collaborations with various airlines, travel intermediaries, and national tourism boards to increase traffic for Singapore.

What are some useful skills you’ve picked up in preparation for your career?
Kenneth: I’ve definitely polished up my communication and critical thinking skills! (Laughs) In university, projects comprise a substantial amount of the workload. I feel that these projects have prepared me to better meet the challenges of the workforce because in CAG, projects are also managed in groups and every member plays an important role. This aligns with CAG’s mission of working together as a team to achieve exceptional results beyond our individual capabilities.

CAG is the guardian of the much-lauded Changi Experience. What does a typical work day look like?
Amy: I was formerly from the Airside Operations branch, so the first thing I’d do each day was to read the internal report to get an overview of the previous day’s operational happenings and incidents. My duty was to ensure that daily operations continue running as efficiently as possible. This would sometimes require me to follow up with relevant stakeholders in the airport to discuss and propose ways to reach a mutually-acceptable resolution.

In addition, I was also in charge of airport safety. Not many people are familiar with this function, but CAG also performs wildlife management to ensure that any wildlife activity – such as flying birds – does not compromise the safety of aircraft arriving at or departing from Changi Airport.

And now you’ve moved on to Airline Development! Share with us your new job scope.
Amy: I’m the account manager for the Southwest Pacific market, including Australia and New Zealand, which contributes vital traffic to Singapore’s position as an air hub. My job is therefore to work closely with the carriers under my portfolio, such as Qantas and the Jetstar Group, to grow their business at Changi Airport.

This is an exciting portfolio that requires me to keep abreast with market trends and developments that may influence the aviation business. It also gives me opportunities for business travel, to meet network planners and strategists to better understand the needs of our airline partners.

Looking back, how has CAG expanded your horizons?
Kenneth: CAG has been incredibly supportive of my education. As a CAG scholar, you’re free to pursue almost any course of study and participate in exchange programmes, summer schools, and relevant international seminars or conferences. The diversity of the aviation industry means that there will definitely be something to match your interest in CAG.

Amy: There are ample opportunities for job rotations as CAG believes in developing their staff and realising their career aspirations. Thus far, I have gained valuable experience from working in Airside Operations, Terminal Operations, and Airport Operations. These rotations have been important in providing me with varying perspectives to make informed decisions and craft well-rounded policies in order to drive CAG to greater heights.

Any final words of advice for future CAG scholars?
Kenneth: CAG offers scholars the extraordinary prestige and pride of working in a truly world-class airport. This, coupled with the rapidly expanding aviation landscape due to budget carriers and the opening of a new Terminal 4, will mean abundant opportunities for learning and self-discovery to fulfil your potential.

Amy: If you enjoy applying analytical thinking to overcome ground challenges and getting a good dose of adrenaline rush every now and then, CAG is the best place for you to be. Join us for a challenging but exciting career in this fast-paced and dynamic industry!

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