Held in high esteem by the international maritime community, Singapore’s maritime industry is a vibrant and dynamic collection of maritime and port services. Home to over 130 international shipping groups and 5,000 maritime establishments, the maritime industry in Singapore is indeed a sterling example of success.
Playing a key role in its development as a global hub is the MPA. Since its establishment in 1996, the organisation has continually worked to put our maritime sector on the map. As part of their efforts to bolster Singapore’s growth as a maritime centre, one key strategy of MPA has been investing in young talents to pump fresh blood into the industry. Chua Chun Kang and Eunice Pui are two such examples. Both MPA Scholars, they spend some time with us to share about what drew them to the maritime sector and the adventures they have had with MPA.
Diving in Headfirst
For many, making the life-altering decision of choosing a career path is not an easy choice to make. When it was time for Chun Kang to do so, he approached the situation logically and methodically. He tells us, "I was naturally interested in joining the public sector because of what we learn in pre-university about government policies. At the same time, I believe effective policy-development requires an in-depth industry knowledge, which can only be gained by being close to the industry.
"My uncle happened to work as a Marine Surveyor at a classification society, so I got to know about the maritime industry, and thus the MPA. Being a statutory board, MPA offers exposure to both public and private sector. So I took a plunge, and never regretted it."
On the other hand, Eunice discovered her path entirely by coincidence. She recalls, "The maritime industry was not something I had considered until I started thinking about university options. That was when I chanced upon the MPA scholarship.
"I did some research, and realised how big a part the maritime industry played in Singapore’s economy. The thought of working in the maritime industry, specifically MPA, started to appeal to me. With the leaps of advances that are ahead such as the building of the new Megaport, it seemed like the perfect time to join MPA."
Chua Chun Kang
MPA Local Undergraduate Scholar
Manager, Industry Manpower Development Department, IMC Division
A Charted Course
As a scholar under MPA, students can expect to receive full support from the organisation when it comes to career development.
Even though she is still an undergraduate, Eunice has already gained invaluable work experience with MPA. She tells us, "I was attached to the Safety Inspectorate department where I assisted on the preparation of the Safety@Sea Week event. This event included the two-day inaugural International Safety@Sea Conference, where I had the opportunity to interact with guests who worked in the maritime industry. It was obvious how much they enjoyed working in the industry and it was heartening to see how good the relationship between companies in the industry and MPA was."
Well into his career with MPA, Chun Kang is still appreciative of all the developmental opportunities he was given early on. He articulates, "I had a pre-course internship where I worked with the Marine Services Department. I was tasked with working on the development of the Singapore Standard for mass flow meter bunkering, the first of its kind in the world. Developing an industry standard, let alone a world-class benchmark, is an immense task that requires the buy-in from different stakeholders. From this experience, I learned that managing stakeholders’ expectations and keeping people involved was key to project success – an important lesson that continues to hold true today," he articulates.
Currently, Chun Kang is working in the International Maritime Centre (IMC) Division which is responsible for developing strategies, products and services, and marketing Singapore as an IMC. "My department is responsible for the planning and development of manpower for the maritime industry. I believe this is an invaluable service as a well-educated and balanced workforce supports the capability development for Singapore’s economy," he elaborates.
Eunice Pui Ke Yii
MPA Overseas Undergraduate Scholar
Bachelor of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering with Business Finance student at University College London
Having spent two years with MPA, Chun Kang feels like he has gained a lot from his work experience. He claims, "While two years does not sound like a long period of time, I feel like I have grown at an exponential rate. After all, a captain that steers a ship in the high seas with heavy weather in six months has more experience than a captain plying calmer waters.
"That being said, I look forward to further deepening my skills in manpower planning as well as developing a deeper rapport with the industry to see companies and Singapore benefit from our policies."
Rounding off the interview, Eunice has some sage counsel for students who are still contemplating their scholarship options. She advises, "Be open-minded! There are many opportunities out there waiting to be taken, so rid yourself of any pre-conceived perceptions and approach these opportunities with a new mindset!"
Chun Kang concludes by adding, "A wise man once said that while it is important to marry the woman you love, it is even more important to love the woman you marry. Different scholarships offer you different rides, but it is up to you to find the meaning and purpose in your career choice."