Taking Flight With SIA

Daryl Eng’s training in International Relations comes in handy for his work at one of Singapore’s top companies.

Why did you choose the SIA Open Overseas Scholarship?
I was drawn to the SIA scholarship for a multitude of reasons. As a kid, airplane rides were always a source of deep fascination and mystery. I loved peering out the airplane window and gazing into the horizon. Like many Singaporeans, I take pride in SIA’s position as one of the world’s leading airlines. I also believe that working in the private sector is more challenging, which would give me opportunities to thrive.
The scholarship was an ideal way to consolidate these varied interests into a chance to work for a reputable company in a constantly evolving industry.

What course did you pursue? Why did you choose this?
I graduated with an Arts degree in International Relations (IR). I’ve always had a keen ­interest in global affairs and economics and the ‘Political Economy and Society’ track within the IR concentration at Brown provided me with the perfect blend of both. In addition to my core ­political science and economics requirements, the cross-disciplinary nature of IR gave me the freedom to take classes in anthropology, ­sociology and environmental studies.

I believe the study of IR is critical in ­understanding the forces of globalisation and the backlash it has provoked, now more so than ever. I know that it would equip me with the analytic tools, language expertise, and ­cross-cultural understanding to approach complex global problems so that one day, I might play my part in promoting a just and peaceful world.

Any advice on how to choose a university?
If you’re fortunate enough to secure funding for overseas education, the first question would be, ‘Which country should I go to?’ Personally, I was drawn to the US for its emphasis on a well-rounded liberal arts education.

For universities, I would focus on the school’s characteristics rather than its name. You have to ask if you prefer a large or small student body, a city or suburban campus, and the type of school culture; whether it revolves primarily around academics, athletics, or the arts (perhaps all of them).
Lastly, do bear in mind that the university admissions process can be rather arbitrary. Even if you choose a university, it may not choose you that particular year. The most important thing to remember is that you can have quality education and an incredible experience at most universities anywhere in the world – it’s up to you to make the most of it.

What are the most memorable things that happened in your university life?
The IR course had a language component, which gave me an opportunity to spend a summer learning Spanish in Granada, Spain, followed by a semester in Buenos Aires, Argentina. One of my proudest achievements to date was completing a course at the biggest public university in Argentina, as the only foreigner in a room with 40 Argentines. I could hardly make out one of every five Spanish words the rapid-fire professor was saying in my first class. I almost dropped the class multiple times but wanted to prove to myself that I could succeed. With immense help from several classmates, I even managed to score the sweetest distinction of my academic life in the final exam.

My most cherished memories at Brown are of the potluck dinners that my housemates and I would host for our closest friends. There were delicious home-cooked dishes, bottles of cheap wine, assorted IKEA candles, a dress code that may or may not has included bowties, and most importantly, a conversation that never ran out of steam.

Tell us about your job. What do you love about it?
My first posting in SIA has been in the Loyalty Marketing department, which oversees all aspects of the airline’s frequent flyer programme. As part of the Programme Development team, my portfolio is engaging and diverse, the core of which is to formulate strategies and initiatives for the KrisFlyer and PPS Club programme.

Watching my projects materialise and witnessing the quantifiable impact they have on our members is the most rewarding aspect of my job. I also love how my role provides many opportunities for collaboration with other departments and external parties. But above all, I love the dynamism of my job. On any given day, I could be poring over analyses of customer data in the morning, fielding calls from stations in the afternoon and working on a proposal for additional member benefits in the evening.

What kind of career and personal developmental opportunities does your company provide for its scholars?
SIA’s staff rotation scheme allows its executives to take up different postings every two to three years, in areas as varied as Corporate Planning, Sales & Marketing, Flight Operations or even Cabin Crew Training. The scheme gives us exposure to key areas of the aviation business and enables us to cultivate different skill sets in each posting.

Through the Overseas Manager Scheme and the Trainee Station Manager Scheme, SIA also gives its employees a chance to live and work abroad. With offices in more than 60 countries, it is a rare opportunity to experience a variety of different cultures while continuing to be deeply connected to Singapore through the company and its people.

What are your interests? How do you balance it with working life?
While work does consume the majority of my time these days, exercise is a great way of keeping my endorphins flowing. I run along Changi beach or sneak in a game of tennis on weekday nights to alleviate stress after a full day at work. On weekends, I enjoy the occasional wakeboarding session or yoga class to clear my head.

Like many of my colleagues, I enjoy travelling and try to take a trip every couple of months. Over the past year, I’ve managed to visit old friends in the States, scuba-dive in Sulawesi, hike in picture-perfect Cape Town and chill numerous times at Bali beaches. In this regard, the travel benefits with SIA are a huge perk.

Daryl Eng
SIA Open Overseas Scholarship
Age: 26
Now: Loyalty Marketing Executive
Attained: BA in International Relations, Brown University
From: Raffles JC