Lau Yu Jay never thought he would find his passion in the aviation industry. His University degree was in the social sciences – political science and economics – and as a child, his interest in airlines was limited to the glamourous image of travelling the world. His acceptance into the SIA Scholarship programme therefore came as a “pleasant surprise” – one that would eventually change his life.
The pride of the nation, SIA is a leading international brand that not only maintains its sterling standards and reputation, but also continuously challenges itself to perfect customers’ experience and reinvent aviation. In today’s age when travelling is a way of life, the need to constantly redefine and enhance commercial flight practices is ever present. Yu Jay, a recipient of the SIA Open Overseas Scholarship, shares his thoughts on securing a future with SIA, a company at the forefront of global change.
Seeing The World
Yu Jay used this opportunity to fulfill one of his childhood dreams: Seeing the world. Under the programme, Yu Jay was able to further his education in Germany, which he didn’t think was possible. He expresses, “That Singapore Airlines supported my decision to study outside the traditional Anglo-Saxon world was itself one of the most valuable opportunities I received. Not many scholarship bodies see the value of an education outside the traditional elite institutions of the Ivy League or the Russell Group, and the chance to actually do my undergraduate studies outside this sphere testifies to the importance this company places on diversity.”
Not only did the company see Yu Jay through his school of choice, it even supported his desire to attend preparatory courses before that. This included an internship with the German European School Singapore and a German summer school programme in Munich, which helped ease his transition into life in Germany. Thanks to these opportunities, Yu Jay feels that he got to experience “different working cultures and lifestyles” that “challenged pre-conceived notions of how the world worked”.
He explains, “The German tertiary system encourages its students to be independent in curating their own university experience. It encouraged me to be independently minded and to take responsibility for my own academic and personal decisions. It also provided rigorous methodological training, which shaped how I analysed problems at work. In addition, pursuing my undergraduate degree in a foreign language spurred me to break out of my comfort zone.”
Lau Yu Jay
SIA Open Overseas Scholar
Ground Services Executive (Standards & Performance)
Giving Back With A Glocal Brand
With this enriched overseas experience, Yu Jay found the ability to “contribute fresh ideas” in his role under SIA – a local brand that has gained global recognition, or “glocal” – which designated him as a Ground Services Executive (Standards & Performance). In this position, Yu Jay analyses and optimises SIA’s airport operations, “from the point the passenger steps off his taxi to his check-in, immigration and departure experience”. His job entails collecting and analysing data from all 60 destinations worldwide, in order to improve the customer experience for SIA guests.
His overseas learning came into play when he was met with one of the most memorable episodes of his career with SIA. Recounting this project, Yu Jay says, “I was tasked to provide our local and overseas staff with the necessary training to navigate a new software.” Even though he was the trainer in this situation, Yu Jay found himself open to learning from more senior and experienced staff in the company.
He highlights, “The staff provided numerous insights into how the system could be improved, especially given their vast experience while I was still a greenhorn. Taking their suggestions into consideration taught me the value of experience and gave me further insights into the challenges our staff faces at our stations in upholding the high standards we have.”
A World Of Opportunities
Entering the SIA workforce opened up plenty of doors for the passionate undergraduate, even in something as simple as transitioning into working life. Yu Jay recalls how SIA helped him get familiarised with the industry: “SIA offers all incoming officers, both scholars and non-scholars, an orientation programme that gives them insights into the various aspects of the airline’s operations. Mentors are also assigned to all new administrative officers in the first year of work.”
What qualities, then, should applicants possess? He advises, “All new applicants should keep an open mind, and recognise that learning does not stop after graduation. It is also important for applicants to be willing and able to pick up new skills and learn new information.” Other traits that the employer looks out for include “sincerity, loyalty and an independent mind”.
In closing, Yu Jay offers, “I strongly advise potential applicants to cast their net wide, keep an open mind and be true to one’s self. It took me a long time to decide on whether I wanted to take up this scholarship. Yet, a year on into my job, I have no regrets having taken on this scholarship, and in fact, I love my job more and more each day!”