Opportunities to grow are aplenty for Skyler Tan at the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, allowing him to further his passion for air travel.
Why did you choose the CAAS Overseas Undergraduate scholarship? Who or what influenced you most to take up this scholarship?
I chose a scholarship with CAAS as I wanted to learn about and work closely with the air transport industry. I have always been fascinated by air travel and would like to spend my career contributing to and learning about this field. The ability to further my interests is what made me take up this scholarship.
What course did you graduate in and why did you choose to pursue this?
I graduated from Imperial College London with a Master of Engineering (Aeronautical Engineering) in 2017. I have always loved planes and had an interest in big engineering marvels such as the jumbo jets and space shuttles. Therefore, a natural fit for me to pursue my interests was an aeronautical engineering course.
What do you think are your strengths that landed you the scholarship?
I think my attention to detail and belief that I should try my best at whatever I attempt landed me the scholarship. Being interested in how planes fly at a young age has developed my passion for air travel and the air transport industry too. As I grew up, I realised the importance of aviation safety and the efforts needed to ensure the development of the industry in order to maintain Singapore’s leading position in aviation. When deciding on this scholarship, I meticulously researched the role of CAAS and brought my own views to the interview on how I believed I could contribute to CAAS’s goals.
What do you think makes the scholarship stand out from the other scholarships on the market?
For me, the main factor in choosing this scholarship is the focus of the job after I graduate. As I am interested in the aviation industry, this scholarship is a good fit for furthering my interests in this field. So far, working at CAAS has given me good exposure to the air transport community here in Singapore.
Describe your role in CAAS.
I am responsible for developing and implementing the industry transformation map which outlines the initiatives we would undertake together with the industry to develop new capabilities and improve productivity. My role generally includes forward planning for the industry and securing the resources and support we need to deliver on our plans.
What do you love about your job and CAAS?
CAAS makes the effort to encourage officers to step out of their comfort zone. This is something I admire about the organisation. There is also a strong focus on fostering individual growth for staff. CAAS has a nurturing culture and there are plenty of opportunities to learn and develop oneself. The CAAS Project Xperience is one such example where officers are allowed to walk in the footsteps of their colleagues from another division. Most of the time, much of the work done in a division is unknown to others, so I appreciate CAAS giving staff the opportunity to see what really goes on behind the scenes in another division. Through this experience, I learned to see CAAS as a bigger picture and come to appreciate the work and efforts my colleagues put in.
What kinds of career and personal developmental opportunities does the company provide its scholars?
As a CAAS scholar, opportunities will be provided for me to rotate to a different division every two years, so as to gain experience and learn the different job functions in the organisation. There are also career development options to be seconded to the Ministry of Transport or the ICAO Mission in Montreal. Cross division projects are also available to give us a better understanding and first-hand experience of how the various parts of the organisation work together to deliver on our responsibilities.
What are your interests and how do you balance it with working life?
I’m into mountain biking and I find the time to do so during the weekends. I’m lucky to have a boss who supports having a good work-life balance and we try our best to confine work tasks to working hours unless absolutely necessary. Planning my time ahead means that I can ensure I keep last-minute surprises to a minimum and have my nights and weekends for my own interests and family.
How do you find the working culture in CAAS?
I am happy with the working culture in CAAS. Here, colleagues make the effort to be more than just colleagues. We have meet-ups outside of work and I feel that this is a group of friends that I would like to hang out with. People are helpful and will assist newcomers with difficulties or doubts in their work. My superiors teach rather than reprimand when we make mistakes. I like this open and approachable aspect of CAAS’ culture and I am happy to say that this is my ideal work culture.
What was the first thing that struck you when you started working?
While a good work-life balance is still very much achievable when I started work, I realised that more effort is required to keep up my personal interests as compared to when I was studying. I realised it now requires effort and planning to be able to find time to pursue interests outside of work. I would encourage anyone who is still studying to appreciate the extra time and take the chance to travel more and try out new things to broaden your experiences and perspectives.
Have your views/expectations changed once you stepped out into the working world?
My views have not changed significantly from when I was studying. The responsibilities that I have now at work are definitely greater than when I was a student. When studying, most of the things we deal with are still theoretical and within a controlled environment. However, my actions now affect various stakeholders and definitely require a greater degree of care.
What do you see are life’s most important values and why?
Trying your best at whatever you choose to do and to understand why we do things a certain way. I believe that we should try our best at any task that we set for ourselves as not doing so would be letting down ourselves and others who are depending on you. This includes understanding the reasons behind why things are done a certain way. If we follow procedures just because “that’s the way it has always been done”, we will not change, adapt, and improve.
What qualities are essential to have if a student is interested in the scholarship?
CAAS’ role is important as air connectivity brings invaluable global connections to enable our economic growth. Therefore, the student should be interested in aviation and understand the importance of air connectivity in relation to Singapore’s success.
TAN SHIUH SHENG SKYLER
CAAS Overseas Undergraduate Scholarship
Attained: Master of Engineering (Aeronautical Engineering), Imperial College London
Now: Deputy Manager (Aviation Development – Planning), Aviation Industry Division
From: NUS High School