Doreen Koh enjoys the opportunities with theCivil Aviation Authority
I was interested in the public service .but .I also wanted a career that offered a dynamic working environment. I chose the CAAS as I wanted to work in the vibrant aviation industry while playing my part for national development.
CAAS scholars are part of a selected team of people who will be groomed to lead in management positions. The company offers a wide range of job rotation opportunities, ranging from the management-styled divisions like air hub policy to the more technical divisions such as air traffic services, air worthiness and safety regulation. CAAS scholars can expect exposure to each and every one of these divisions during the course of his/her career; as such, there are always fresh learning opportunities and never a dull moment. Opportunities for international exposure are also available through cooperation with various civil aviation authorities worldwide, attending conferences or even a posting at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in Montreal.
The CAAS Overseas Scholarship supports its scholars with a degree of flexibility. I was really grateful that CAAS gave me its full support when I requested to take an additional year to complete my Masters programme at Columbia University right after I completed my Bachelors degree at Peking University. Most organisations, I believe, would want their scholars to start working after the four years of undergraduate studies. The extra year proved helpful in the pursuit of my interests and knowledge in my field.
The promise of opportunities and prestige whilst serving my bond was another large pull factor. The chance to work in the different divisions within CAAS or to be seconded to the Ministry of Transport provides CAAS scholars with the bigger picture of Singapore’s transport industry. There is a large space for personal development. While the learning curve might be steep for one first entering this specialised industry, conquering the challenges faced can also be very gratifying.
Dare To Decide
My personal advice for those looking to join the CAAS is to be daring and decisive. I believe my willingness to take on something different by choosing a less mainstream country for my undergraduate studies helped me to be where I am now.
These traits are all the more important when it comes to dealing with the working life and environment. As an International Relations officer, there is no typical day at work. Today I am meeting foreign dignitaries, tomorrow I may be drafting a strategy paper with my colleagues. It takes grit and guts to get through such a hectic schedule while maintaining a level head and a sense of professionalism. While meeting people is a substantial part of my job, there is a lot of preparation work that precedes these interactions.
When organisations grow to a certain size, there tends to be a certain aversion to change. However, I found CAAS has an open and consultative office culture and the management is open to changes. My division is youthful and dynamic. Our flat working structure is even reflected in the open office layout. Brainstorming sessions and bouncing of ideas is common among colleagues in my division.
My education in International Studies has built my appreciation for the nuts and bolts of international politics. Very often our relationships with our foreign counterparts cannot be conducted in isolation from the greater political situation in their countries or even the world. An awareness of these political implications is crucial for building a successful collaborative relationship with our counterparts. I currently hold the Northeast Asian portfolio; my education background in East Asian society and politics has also prepared me well for taking on this portfolio.
I get many opportunities to interact with foreign counterparts requesting for assistance on their civil aviation development. Seeing them smile in appreciation for our efforts to assist them drives me to walk the extra mile.
On weekends, I have time to go for my regular jog and yoga workout. The Changi Airport Recreation Club provides a convenient location for those who wish to play sports or carry out other recreational activities during lunch break or after work.
We have a corporate motto: ‘In enabling opportunities through aviation, we want to open doors, make connections, and enable choices in people’s lives’. This capsulates who we are as an organisation. Our people development framework aims to build a more productive and inclusive workforce by providing opportunities to empower self-growth and personal development. Passion and a drive to excel are necessary for anyone who wishes to join the challenging and dynamic aviation industry.DOREEN KOH
Attained: Bachelor of International Studies at Peking University, China; Masters in Regional Studies (East Asia) at Columbia University, USA
Now: Deputy Manager (International Relations)