SIA Scholar Aswin offers his insights into choosing a university and scholarship.
Why did you choose the SIA Open Scholarship?
I was attracted to a career in SIA for a myriad of reasons. Firstly, there has never been a more attractive and exciting time to embark on a career in the aviation sector. The new economy is creating new and dynamic opportunities and this presents the aviation industry with a host of new challenges. As a result, the scope for personal and professional self-development is unprecedented.
In addition, SIA is committed to its core values of integrity, teamwork, and the pursuit of excellence. It creates viable spaces for employees to grow personally as well as professionally, hone their leadership skills, and build a rewarding career. As an individual who thrives on challenges, I was certain that I would be able to benefit from the opportunities provided by SIA.
What do you think are your strengths that landed you the scholarship?
I believe that confidence is a quality which is easily overlooked. Upon graduation from pre-tertiary education, students have a lot to ponder on: ‘What should I study?’, ‘What scholarship should I take?’, ‘Which university should I attend?’ These are questions that require a significant amount of reflection. It is important to follow your heart and be confident of yourself and your decisions.
It is this confidence which shines through in any interview. Thus, more than anything, I would say that self-belief in my abilities and decisions is what landed me the SIA Scholarship.
What course did you pursue? Why did you choose this?
The desire to expand my knowledge and understand a key part of the world around me is what guided me towards a degree in Economics. We live in a world which is inextricably linked to the economy. These links, be it tangible or intangible, have influenced and shaped the world around us. It is this symbiosis which I wanted to explore and decipher.
Economics as a degree puts the onus on students to dwell on economic concepts and question policy decisions. It challenges students to address the failures of models and concepts that are constantly influenced by global shifts. This makes for an education which is constantly evolving, and questions the premises upon which it is based on. I knew that being part of such a dynamic education would provide me the skill set and confidence to handle the core concepts which are driving the processes of all companies, governments, and even daily routines.
How is the job market for this course?
Careers for Economics graduates are diverse. There is still a demand for graduates with strong numeracy and analytical skills. This places them at an advantage and opens doors to various industries. While it is true that the current job environment is getting more uncertain and volatile, skills gained by Economics graduates are certainly valued by employers.
Any advice on how to choose a university?
When choosing a university, it is important to focus on the courses you wish to pursue. Faculties in each university adopt different styles of teaching, from research-oriented to classroom-based. In addition, the modules available vary greatly across universities. Looking at the courses you are interested in and the styles of teaching you are comfortable with can help to ease the stress during this process. Such information is also readily available on the universities’ websites.
You must remember that your time at university depends on how you choose to make use of it. It is a time to try new hobbies, sports, food, and even living arrangements. Be willing to leave your comfort zone, seize timely opportunities to broaden your horizons, and you are likely to have a wonderful university experience.
What are the most memorable things that happened in your university life?
Most of my cherished memories from university days are tied to the time spent with new friends. Visiting each other’s families and learning about their cultures and ways of living made my time abroad much more memorable. Even daily routines were made interesting with each of us trying the other’s food and cultural attires. Every day was a cultural exchange, a new experience, and that made the rigours of a university education enjoyable.
Describe your role in your company and its challenges.
Since joining SIA, I have been working as an analyst in the Network Planning Department. My primary role involves developing the long-term network growth and fleet renewal plans of the company. I have been tasked to evaluate the growth opportunities available to SIA, and to map an appropriate framework and timeframe to achieve these. Formulating long-term growth plans naturally feeds into my role of planning the aircraft needs of the company.
The key focus of my job is to track opportunities and look into new destinations and upcoming markets. This involves a close working relationship with many departments and external agencies. In addition, my responsibilities demand good working knowledge of trends in the industry and different regions around the world. Being able to identify opportunities which will emerge in the future requires a forward-looking mindset. It also demands the ability to look past the obvious and find value despite limited information. However, the job does not end there. It is also important to translate these views and opinions into viable business cases. This makes for a career which is highly demanding yet fruitful.
What do you love about your job?
Working for SIA gives me the ability to reach out to colleagues around the world and allows me to immerse myself in other cultures. In fact, I am able to apply my experiences and knowledge to better serve a global audience.
Another advantage of my job is that it is never routine. Each day is different and each project demands a different approach. This makes coming to work an exciting, instead of a mundane affair.
What kind of career and personal developmental opportunities does your company provide for its scholars?
SIA executives are able to take up various engaging roles within the organisation. We are rotated to different postings approximately every two years, which allow us to be exposed to many facets of the aviation industry as well as the company. We are also mentored by different leaders in the company.
This enables the executives to find their footing within SIA and ascertain their strengths and weaknesses. Continual appraisals and career training also make it possible to focus on addressing these strengths and weaknesses in the most constructive manner. In addition, we receive further support in developing the skills necessary for a meaningful career by being a part of conferences and summits hosted by industry leaders and pioneers. We learn from the best on how to navigate the aviation industry successfully.
The company also places a strong emphasis on community and family. Outreach events and family-centric gatherings are a means by which SIA connects with its staff and the community as a whole. This creates a strong sense of unity within the company.
What are your interests? How do you balance it with working life?
Exploring new places and food was a journey which began when I was overseas and it has continued till today. I enjoy visiting unknown spots around Singapore and the many different food havens dotted around the island. While my career does encompass a significant part of my life, scheduling time for my interests and spending time with family and friends has also become a part of my weekly schedule. Committing to such a schedule ensures that a work-life balance is achievable.
SIA Open Scholarship
Now: Network Planning Analyst
Attained: Bachelor of Science (Economics), University College London; Masters of Finance and Economics, University of Cambridge
From: Raffles JC