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CAAS – Building A Competitive Global Air Hub

Armed with an International Relations and Economics Degree, Low Yeu Shinq strives to maintain Singapore’s status as a global aviation hub.

Why did you choose the scholarship?
I am interested in international affairs and wanted to pursue something that would enable me to have a wide global outlook. I am also keen to contribute to important national and strategic goals and hence was attracted to a career in the public sector. Civil aviation gave me the best of both worlds and therefore I chose the CAAS Undergraduate Scholarship.

What was the scholarship interview like?
There were group activities that required us to discuss issues which revealed each individual’s reaction and thoughts of the developing group dynamics. This was followed by two rounds of interviews with the senior management and Directorate of CAAS to assess if the aspiring scholar had the necessary qualities to take the organisation forward after returning from their studies.

What courses are you pursuing or graduated in? Why did you choose this?
I graduated with a double major in ­Economics and International Relations from New York University. During my first year at university, I developed a keen interest in ­international political economy while doing my readings and research for all the introductory courses. The inter-dependency of a country’s domestic economics and politics and what these meant on the ­international stage, intrigued me. I was also especially interested in doing more in-depth research on the East Asian region, which I managed to do so through my senior honours thesis.

How is the job market for these courses?

For International Relations, most graduates would either pursue a career as an academic or a policy researcher in a ­think-tank or the government service. As for Economics, the options are pretty broad – from ­government service, to a business development role in the private sector, ­management ­consultancy, or banking and finance.

Any advice on choosing a university?

Personally, the lifestyle, culture, and people in university played as much (or more) of a role in my personal development, as the academics. My advice would be to choose a university whose culture is one that you can relate to – this includes the location of the university (eg city, rural, etc).

What are the most memorable things that happened in your university life?

There were many memorable moments that happened while I was in the US. Like getting stuck at John F Kennedy Airport for almost 48 hours with thousands of other stranded tourists during the major ­snowstorm in 2011; experiencing Hurricane Sandy in New York City in 2012 and being out of electricity for about a week; going for an exchange in China for one semester; taking time to explore a new city every ­weekend and being able to relate what we learnt academically to what we experienced first-hand; and participating as a stage/production manager for an Asian-American theatre group in university. These events made my undergrad life colourful.

Describe your role in your company and its challenges.
The division that I was previously from focused on industry development – to enhance Singapore’s status as a productive, efficient and competitive global air hub. One of the tools we used is the Aviation Development Fund, and my team’s role was being the secretariat to this fund. We formulated funding frameworks, incentivising our stakeholders to achieve various industry-wide objectives. It was also our job to ensure that the monies were used effectively and prudently. Some challenges include garnering sufficient industry support for the implementation of various initiatives, especially those with extensive positive externalities.

I have recently been posted to the Air Navigation Services Policy and Planning Division, where my duties currently include facilitating the policy development, regulation and management of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), which is a new growth area and which make use of Singapore’s limited airspace. My duties in the future will also include airspace planning, formulation and coordination for the use of airspace in Singapore’s Flight Information Region. It is an important responsibility as my team and I help to safeguard aircraft operations against hazards posed to the safety of air navigation within our airspace by working closely with different stakeholders. Although I’ve only recently joined the division, the importance of my role in ensuring the safe use of our airspace is one which I take great pride in.

What do you love about your job and the company?

There is a sense of satisfaction in knowing that my colleagues and I have played a part in the continued success of Singapore’s aviation industry and Changi ­Airport – something that has been a source of ­national pride for the past few decades.

The work itself is also interesting; being able to engage with the industry and see how your efforts are helping the companies to further their cause as well as to improve upon their operations and capabilities.

What kinds of career and personal developmental opportunities does your company provide for its scholars?

Scholars are encouraged to rotate to gain more exposure to the multi-faceted aspects of the organisation. What is great about this initiative is that it extends to all CAAS officers and not just the scholars.  Besides internal rotations, there are also ­secondment opportunities to our parent ministry, the Ministry of Transport (MOT), as well as its Statutory Boards – Land Transport Authority (LTA) and Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA).

Moreover, CAAS officers are regularly sent for training courses to upgrade their skills and knowledge. Some of these ­courses are conducted by Singapore ­Aviation Academy, the training arm of CAAS.

Low Yeu Shinq
CAAS Overseas Undergraduate Scholarship
Age: 25
Now: Manager (Air Navigation Services Policy)
From: Hwa Chong JC