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CAAS – Horizon Scanning For The Aviation Industry


Studying International Relations comes in handy for Bensen Koh’s work in CAAS.

Why did you choose the CAAS Scholarship?
There were two main draws. First of all, I was attracted to the idea of working in the civil aviation sector. Being able to hop onboard a plane and fly off to another place or country may be taken for granted ­nowadays but it is really a miracle of science. Our little island would not be able to thrive without all of these connections. ­
Secondly, CAAS was one of the ­relatively few scholarships back then which accepted International Relations as a course of study; a subject that I have very keen interest in.

What do you think makes CAAS ­Scholarships stand out from the other scholarships on the market?
Civil aviation is one of the fastest ­industries in most developing countries. It is now quite an exciting time in this field, ­given the recent spate of developments, with many new challenges to overcome.

What do you think are your strengths that landed you the scholarship?
I think it is extremely important to be able to articulate well. You may be a fast thinker with really intelligent points of view but these talents are wasted if you are ­unable to communicate your thoughts and ideas well.

What is your typical work day like?
Every day is a different challenge. In general I write proposals, make presentations and coordinate between the different divisions within CAAS and with external agencies to make things happen. I’m really glad to be working in the ­Futures and Planning Office (FPO). I enjoy the fact that the colleagues in my division are, almost as a rule, very open-minded people who have an active curiosity.

How have you been able to use what you learned in university for your job?
One important aspect of work in FPO is scenario planning and horizon ­scanning. Essentially, these terms refer to the ­observation and study of emerging trends in order to prepare for the future. Within FPO, ‘international politics’ have been assigned to me, and I have produced some materials related to this field.

What gives you the most job ­satisfaction?
Projects can have fairly long ­timelines, so there aren’t really that many ‘mission accomplished’ feelings. I do, ­however, enjoy learning about new and emerging trends and issues, and how they relate to civil aviation.

What kinds of training and personal ­developmental opportunities does the organisation provide its scholars?
CAAS provides opportunities to all its officers, and not just the scholars. There are quite a number of courses made ­available to us and CAAS invests heavily in the ­training of its officers. Recently, I was sent to the UK for a study trip on unmanned ­aircraft because of a project that I am working on. There are also opportunities for sponsorship of further studies. Some courses are also conducted at our very own Singapore Aviation Academy, the training arm of CAAS.

What are your interests? How do you ­balance it with working life?
I read a lot of fiction and a fair bit of non-fiction as well. Apart from that, I ­enjoy hanging out with my friends, going for ­theatre performances, and just chatting over drinks. I try to keep healthy by doing exercises at the gym in the nearby Changi Airport Recreation Club, which is a ­5-minute walk from my office.

What qualities are essential to be awarded the CAAS Scholarship?
Apart from the usual academic ­requirements, I would say… it would be better to be honest about why you want the scholarship during the interviews. I think it is more important for candidates to be sincere, rather than trying to fit into a ­fictional ‘scholar’ stereotype.

Bensen Koh Ming Sheng
CAAS Scholarship
Age: 25
Now: Deputy Manager (Futures), Futures and Planning Office
Attained: BA in International Relations and East Asian Studies (Magna Cum Laude), Brown University, USA
From: Raffles Junior College