As a land-scarce nation, Singapore is constantly on the search for ways to maintain its competitive advantage and enhance economic growth. At the forefront of this quest is JTC, an organisation that works in tandem with enterprises to strategically increase the efficiency of their economic activities.
It is precisely JTC's focus on supporting and shaping industry transformation and growth that first drew JTC Scholar, Nagarajan Ratha, to the organisation.
Nagarajan chose to pursue engineering because of its real-world practicality, he liked how the field would enable him to combine research with the creation of a tangible end-product. He also selected the University of Manchester as he felt the school's focus on practical and research-based learning, would equip him with the real-world training he wanted.
He felt that with its dynamic job scope and significant impact on Singapore's economic landscape, JTC was an ideal organisation for him to pursue his passion.
Excitedly, he describes how The Jurong Rock Caverns – a project that stores liquid hydrocarbons 130m underground – saves Singapore a land area equating to around 70 football fields. On the other hand, Nagarajan shares how the upcoming JTC Logistics Hub @ Gul, will house container depots, warehouses and a heavy vehicle park in a single location. This enables logistic partners to significantly cut down travel time and fuel costs, in turn improving their overall operational efficiency.
He elaborates, "facilities are developed in close consultation with our industry partners to better support each industry's transformation and growth. This makes me feel like I am making a positive impact in directly shaping Singapore's economic development."
Holistic Training for a Meaningful Career
Nagarajan was exposed to JTC's dynamic and all-rounded job scope from the get-go, when he did two internships with the organisation during his undergraduate days. His first stint was at the Technical Services Division, giving him a glimpse into the role of engineers in each project. By liaising with other divisions in the organisation, he was also given many opportunities for cross-functional collaboration and learning.
A second stint at the corporate planning division built on this. It helped show him how JTC works to catalyse the growth of new industries, and transform existing ones to meet the short-term and long-term needs of the economy.
One of his most memorable working experiences to date, is when he had to manage three consultants over one project. As each consultant specialised in a different aspect of the project, it was a challenge for him to break out of his engineering comfort zone. In addition to understanding the nuances, he was required to maintain a big picture perspective of the project in order to pre-empt and identify any gaps.
He exclaims, "it was a very enriching experience as I had learned and performed beyond the typical role of an engineer!"
The sum of these experiences, he recalls, "taught me that JTC is not only involved in the engineering aspects, but the full value chain of an industrial development. From land planning, design, construction to maintenance and even renewal."
Engineer, Mechanical and Electrical Department (Technical Services Division)
Building for the Future
Today, Nagarajan has taken his skills to the Mechanical and Electrical Department (Technical Services Division) at JTC, where he serves as an engineer.
His current project revolves around the planning and development of the Jurong Innovation District (JID). It is an estimated 600 hectares large, next-generation industrial estate for advanced manufacturing, urban solutions, engineering sciences and smart logistics.
Given the scale of the development, it is estimated that it will take between 30 to 40 years to be fully completed. Nagarajan's role is to ensure that the site remains functional, both in the short and long-term. This means ensuring an adequate and appropriate supply of mechanical and electrical services, as well as to overcome engineering constraints that will arise over the course of the project.
He works with a project team that comprises of many people from different backgrounds, ranging from architects to mechanical and electrical engineers and even urban planners. Nagarajan is constantly challenged to understand and address the needs and concerns of the different stakeholders.
"By being involved in the project, I have learnt to understand how significant and crucial each member's contribution is to the team. Good communication, open-mindedness and a team spirit helps me overcome this challenge," he says.
Continuous Development and Growth
With each project at JTC bringing its own unique challenges and constraints, the work is constantly interesting for him. When asked about the future, he says, "I look forward to the myriad of learning opportunities from my involvement in the wide spectrum of engineering projects in JTC"
He adds that he is glad to be part of an organisation which encourages and supports its staff, with courses to upgrade their skills and knowledge. At the core of the organisation, he explains, is a belief in empowering its people with resources and know-how, in order to keep pace with the evolving economy.
But ultimately, "while academics form the foundation of one's capability, what differentiates a person from others is his or her character," he says.
"Scholars should be forward thinking. They have to be able to see and overcome short-term and long-term issues, while also having a passion to contribute to the community."