P roud and illustrious, Singapore Airlines (SIA) has evolved from a regional airline to one of the finest air travel brands since its inception in 1972. The organisation has consistently garnered prestigious awards with its commitment to service excellence.
Ultimately, it is the people behind SIA who make the real difference in setting the brand apart from others in the aviation sector. For instance, the codeshare arrangements and joint ventures facilitated by the Airline’s Partnerships & International Relations department provide customers with a greater array of choices – in terms of network connectivity and flight schedules.
These developments are all intended to ensure that SIA is well-positioned for the future, especially in an increasingly competitive landscape. SIA Open Overseas Scholar Clement Tan is primed to bring the organisation’s brand to the next level. He shares his SIA journey.
The Prime Choice
Clement chose to pursue his scholarship journey with SIA for three main reasons. He shares, “Firstly, I knew that the complex nature of the aviation industry meant that my future role was bound to challenge me for greater things. Secondly, the flexibility to explore various career paths within the company meant that there would be no shortage of learning opportunities, and lastly, the international nature of my future job meant that I would be involved in a dynamic and ever-changing commercial environment.”
His decision was affirmed when he was assured the liberty to choose his course of study. During his scholarship interview, SIA made known that although his course of study was important in determining the start of his career path, it would not constrain its ultimate trajectory. “This flexibility was important to me because I knew that there would be a lot about SIA that I would eventually want to experience. These opportunities include route planning, ground operations, product design, marketing and sales, and brand development – just to name a few!”
Singapore Airlines Open Overseas Scholar
International Relations Executive
The Journey and Growth
His pursuit of Law was purely academic, according to Clement. As someone naturally drawn to different societies and cultures, he saw a Law degree as a platform to articulate the ordering of power and explore opportunities for contestation.
After obtaining his bachelor’s degree in law at UK’s Cambridge University, where the close supervision of the faculty and the rigorous legal studies curriculum groomed Clement thoroughly, he completed his master’s degree at SOAS (The School of Oriental and African Studies), University of London, UK. To Clement, SOAS was the obvious choice. “I was at the stage where I sought a lot of academic freedom and wanted the support of an institution that encouraged the pushing of boundaries,” Clement shares.
Returning to SIA upon graduation, Clement started work in the Partnerships & International Relations department. Being in a role that requires him to represent SIA’s regulatory interests globally, he puts his legal training to good use while managing commercial cooperation with other air carriers, such as codeshare arrangements and bilateral negotiations, and the development of commercial relationships.
He shares, “In the year that I have been with SIA, I have had the opportunity to develop a whole set of ‘soft skills’, such as diplomacy, market sensitivity, commercial acumen, and project management. The company has also given me plenty of opportunities to meet with other carriers, liaise with civil aviation authorities, and participate in industry groups. The amount of exposure I have received as part of my work has been truly satisfying.”
Speaking fondly of the SIA culture, Clement also tells us, “I have been enjoying the very friendly and open culture here in SIA”. This is in contrast to the common notion that the aviation industry is intensively competitive. In distinguishing itself, SIA prides itself on promoting excellence, and this commitment resonates throughout the organisation. Lifelong learning and the stepping out of one’s comfort zones are encouraged, and SIA does this by rotating junior executives into different roles every two years.
The Challenges and Memories
While there are opportunities aplenty at SIA, every job is bound to come with a set of challenges. However, Clement believes “those moments make the journey worthwhile”. The challenges Clement and his team face in a complex and dynamic industry serve to escalate their growth. “It pushes us to be more agile and adaptable,” Clement shares.
But the sweet moments are what Clement savours delightfully with pride. He has experienced first-hand the effort that goes into tailoring every detail of a customer’s experience.
“A lot of planning and coordination goes into making something truly excellent. The various occasions that I have been asked to represent SIA and its interests have also been memorable experiences. Our reputation has travelled far and wide and I’m always proud to stand behind the brand.”
The Qualities of aspiring SIA Scholars
With all his enriching experiences, Clement is in a good position to offer his invaluable advice to aspiring scholars. He advises, “SIA scholars need to demonstrate flexibility and a willingness to learn, especially in the aviation industry where change is the constant.”
In his words, “Always chart your own path, and don’t worry about following the footsteps of someone else”. This wise advice goes out to all those exploring their array of scholarship options. His was a less beaten path after all, having graduated with a degree in law and navigated his journey towards becoming a proud employee of SIA.