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CAG – The Magic At Changi Airport

CAG-grace

Why did you choose the CAG ­Scholarship?
There is something magical about one of the world’s most awarded ­airport– Changi Airport, ­connecting lives around the world every minute. I took up the Changi Airport Group (CAG) ­Scholarship out of my interest in the ­aviation industry and my aspiration to learn about what it takes to put and keep Changi Airport at the forefront of international airports.

Can you tell us what is it like working in the airport and the nature of your work?
When I was managing the public retail area, I had the opportunity to understand the business of bringing in shopping and dining brands to the airport which is Singapore’s largest shopping mall in terms of sales turnover. It was an enriching experience, learning the importance of aesthetics and creativity in the mall and delighting travellers with innovative facilities such as our butterfly garden and Singapore’s tallest indoor slide.

Now, I am part of the Pricing and ­Commercial Strategy division. We price airport charges and develop commercial strategies. Such charges are set after ­careful consideration and assessment of costs, behaviour and concerns of ­passengers, ­airlines and our many stakeholders.

On a daily basis, I assemble and ­analyse data and information needed for pricing strategies. Sometimes, I have ­discussions with my team and other divisions to align and strategise efforts. We have to ­develop pricing models to derive the right pricing levels for forecasting ­purposes.

The work here is definitely dynamic and challenging. We have to think ahead in order to stay at the forefront of international competition. We need to meet and exceed rapidly changing passenger demands and deal with unexpected ­disruptive events like the volcanic ash cloud from Iceland. In 2010, the ash cloud engulfed Europe; flights were cancelled and many passengers were stranded at the airport.

I was thankful for the very ­supportive and helpful colleagues in CAG who helped me through the initial phase of working here. It also helped that my team had a sense of humour and we could laugh at ourselves when things did not go as planned. This made the low moments more bearable and got us back on our feet to deal with the challenges.

What do you find to be the most ­attractive things about working at the airport?

It is hard to say which specific areas of work suit you when you are fresh from university. The good thing about working in CAG is that it gives you the chance to rotate around the vastly different teams. Not only would you grow as an individual, you would also have a better understanding and appreciation of the airport business. I had colleagues who, in a few years, moved from running ground operations to handling airline accounts, to managing retail and dining businesses, to driving CAG-wide development and long-term planning, and to even coordinating environmental and corporate social responsibility efforts. The scope of opportunities available for you to explore before you decide on what’s best for you makes CAG an outstanding employer.

On a more personal note, the work environment is also one of a kind. It is such joy to be surrounded by lush landscaping, daylight, wide spaces and high ceilings, have unrivalled views of planes taking off and landing and enjoy a large variety of shopping and dining options (some of which are open round the clock). Not only is it a pleasure to work in the airport, it is also exciting to know that you play a part in shaping it.

Have you been able to use what you have learned in university in your job? What other training opportunities did you have?

My Economics background helps in the analytical parts of my job. Previously, when I was managing the retail offerings in the public areas, I had to evaluate retailers’ proposals to assess if they are competitive and fair, as well as understand the business of our retailers.

My second major in Operations Management gave me some background knowledge when speaking to retailers about the running of their outlets. For example, understanding about supply chain and service quality management made me aware of the operational challenges that they face in stocking up their products and delivering customer service at their stores.

Although the university education equipped me with some of the essential soft skills needed at work (eg presentation, writing and communication skills), it offers little about people management in a corporate setting. This is very different from the kind of interaction when we managed teams in schools. Thus, one has lots more to learn from peers, supervisors and through hands-on experience.

CAG also offers internal and external training opportunities for job-specific knowledge and skill sets and involves the staff in overseas airport study trips. I went on an overseas study trip to visit European airports. The airport operators there brought us around and gave insights to their retail planning and operations. In addition, I attended courses on civil aviation management to better understand the aviation industry and appreciate the environment I was working in. To improve my proficiency in dealing with feedback and database management, I also attended courses on feedback reply writing and Microsoft Access.

There are also opportunities to be seconded to our subsidiary, Changi Airports International, which pursues airport investment opportunities globally and offers consultancy services to foreign airports.

What would you say to someone ­interested in the CAG Scholarship?
First, you should have a interest in the aviation business and the airport environment. It is useful to understand your career aspirations and learn about CAG so that you can decide if this is the area for you. One needs to look at the longer term to take up a scholarship.

GRACE TEOH WANXIN
CAG Local Undergraduate Scholarship
Age: 26
Now: Assistant Manager, Pricing and Commercial Strategy
Attained: BSc in Economics from SMU
From: Victoria Junior College