Keeping Changi Ahead
Why did you choose this scholarship?
I took up this scholarship because I was drawn to the aviation industry. As one who is interested in global affairs, I thought that joining CAAS would allow me to be directly involved in international cooperation and advancing our national interests. The scholarship, to me, was a way of getting into this dynamic industry.
How does CAAS select its scholars?
CAAS offers both overseas and local undergraduate scholarships to individuals who display intellectual and leadership abilities and have a strong desire to contribute to the growth of aviation in Singapore.
The scholarship application process lasts around 1-2 months, starting with an initial screening based on the individuals’ credentials and portfolio. Subsequently, candidates are put through collaborative projects, presentations and interviews conducted by the Human Resource division. This is followed by two other panel interviews involving members of the senior management.
What course did you graduate in? Why did you choose this?
I spent four happy years in the UK, pursuing an undergraduate degree in Geography at University College London from 2012 to 2014, and a Masters in Global Governance and Diplomacy at the University of Oxford from 2014 to 2015. My interests in global affairs as well as understanding how societies organised themselves inspired my decision to study international relations and geography.
How is the job market for this course?
Most of my classmates ended up in careers in government, law, finance, NGO and consultancy.
Any advice on how to choose a university?
There are several factors to consider when choosing a university, including areas of strength as this may determine the types of opportunities and resources (internships, student exchange and research programmes etc.) that are available. You should also look at the vibes of the university, whether it is cosmopolitan, academic, relaxed or collegiate, as these will shape your university experience. Location matters too; where you study will determine the kinds of social networks that could potentially be formed. In any case, I think whatever university you end up in, it’s what you do with your time in those years that will define your university experience.
What are the most memorable things that happened in your university life?
The most memorable things were the friendships formed, ideas that challenged my beliefs, as well as the immersion into new cultures.
Describe your role in your company and its challenges.
I’m currently Manager (Air Transport) in the airlines and hub economics team, in the Air Transport Division. This is my second rotation since returning from my studies. I am responsible for putting in place policies that would enable Changi to remain competitive as an air hub and attractive against structural changes in the aviation industry and global economy. Some examples of this include the drop in fuel prices, the advent of new aircraft technologies as well as the rise of low-cost carriers. Aviation is an extremely dynamic and fast-paced industry, which makes the role exciting as well as challenging. My first stint in CAAS was with the Air Navigation Services Policy and Planning Division where I oversaw the development of the Asean Air Traffic Management Master Plan to support the Seamless Asean Sky initiative in ASEAN, which aims to expand the region’s airspace capacity through the use of technology and greater coordination among Asean member states. What’s particularly fulfilling about work at CAAS is the direct impact it has on the travelling public, as well as the overall economic well-being of Singapore and the region.
What kinds of career and personal developmental opportunities does your company provide for its scholars?
Every two years, CAAS Scholars are given the opportunity to rotate to different divisions to gain a new experience. They may also get seconded to the Ministry of Transport or statutory boards such as the Land Transport Authority or Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore. To gain wider international exposure, officers can also be attached to the International Civil Aviation Organisation Mission office in Montreal, Canada. Scholars are also given opportunities to take part in cross-divisional projects to gain a wider appreciation of the organisation’s wide-ranging interests as well as the scope of work. To guide officers through this journey, CAAS also provides extensive developmental and training opportunities.
What are your interests and how do you keep fit?
I enjoy running and doing sports, though it is increasingly difficult to keep up with the growing work responsibilities that I have. One way I force myself to stay fit is by signing up for a marathon as a means of committing myself and then trying to work towards it.
What do you see are life’s most important values and why?
I think fairness and equality are two important values to me because they are fundamental to any rational and caring society. However, achieving a fair and equal society is difficult in practice. Complex factors affecting fairness and equality – such as the assignment of fundamental rights, economic opportunities and social conditions – are often beyond the reach of legislation and constrained by social norms. Nevertheless, I think these are aspirational objectives worth striving toward.
On the home ground, I think we can make Singapore a better, happier place to live in by being kinder to one another. Kindness begets kindness, and brightening the lives of others, brightens our own life too.
LOKE ZHAO DONG
CAAS Overseas Undergraduate Scholarship
Attained: MSc in Global Governance & Diplomacy from the University of Oxford, UK
Now: Manager (Air Transport), Air Transport Division
From: National JC