Rising above the competition, Singapore Airlines Limited (SIA) has made its mark as a leader in the aviation industry. It stands as one of the most renowned airlines in the world, delivering a flight experience that separates it from the pack.
This success can be attributed to the dedicated staff who truly embody SIA’s core values: excellence, safety, customer-focus, care, integrity, and teamwork. These values form the heartbeat of the different teams at SIA, constantly working to maintain the airline’s reputation in an industry that is continually evolving. It’s challenging work, but one that rewards with a terrific sense of accomplishment. This is something that 26-year-old Kanneganti Sameer, a Commercial Planning Executive with SIA, can attest to.
Singapore Airlines (SIA) –
SINDA Undergraduate Scholarship
Commercial Planning Executive
Master of Engineering in Aeronautical Engineering
– Imperial College London
How did you develop an interest in the aviation sector?
I’ve always been intrigued by the concept of flight. The aeroplane, in my opinion, is the greatest engineering feat of all time. At first glance, the concept of flight appears to defy physics, but as you dive deeper into aerodynamics and flight theory, it becomes apparent just how the Wright Brothers interplayed basic engineering with the understanding of physics at that time to develop wings and consequently, achieve flight.
Then, there is the travel aspect of the industry. The fact that you can hop onto a plane, take a flight for a couple of hours, and land in a completely unfamiliar land where the culture, language, and food is completely foreign, always excites me.
What was your motivation to apply for the SINDA Overseas Scholarship?
The scholarship gave me the opportunity to work at one of the most prestigious and successful airlines in the world – Singapore Airlines. The airline industry is an incredibly challenging and diverse one. With competition from state-sponsored and low-cost carriers, ever evolving technologies, and the volatile global economy, airlines are constantly challenged to deliver exceptional service at great value to customers. Such an industry requires competitive and innovative thinking, which greatly appeals to me.
How has your scholarship helped you achieve your goals? What other opportunities have you received?
The scholarship gave me the opportunity to attend Imperial College London to study aeronautics. There, I was constantly challenged to think out of the box and to provide innovative solutions to conventional problems. The mental gymnastics associated with the rigorous curriculum also gave me the fortitude to work under immense pressure and time constraint.
The scholarship gave me several internship opportunities that taught me the various faces of the organisation and the industry. Furthermore, the scholarship enabled me to achieve a truly interdisciplinary education. I was given the opportunity to attend the prestigious Haas Business School at the University of California (Berkeley) to learn marketing over a two-month summer programme.
How did living in a different country give you the skills needed to excel?
Moving out of the family home and living alone meant that I had to be independent – doing everyday things such as sorting out water bills, dealing with landlords, and cooking meals. Having to juggle these aspects of my life along with academic rigours has helped me to learn prioritisation skills and manage a healthy work-life balance.
More importantly, studying in London has opened my eyes to a world outside of our tiny red dot. I now have a worldlier outlook on events and have been exposed to a myriad of cultures and experiences that I otherwise would not have had the opportunity to engage in. This has enhanced my outlook on life and my empathy towards people from various backgrounds.
Tell us more about your current role.
As a Commercial Planning Executive, I forecast how much revenue the organisation will generate and translate that into business strategies for our local and overseas stations. I also develop other commercial strategies for the head office and overseas stations based on market data, demand forecasts, and network plans. As I interact with our foreign staff in our overseas stations regularly, the communication skills and cultural understandings that I developed during my studies have helped tremendously.
Finally, I work with our partners such as Scoot, Air New Zealand, and Virgin Australia on joint commercial projects to help bring better value and service to our customers.
What opportunities for your development does SIA offer?
SIA offers you the opportunity to continuously learn. Being an engineer posted to a commercial department would typically be a daunting experience. However, the mentorship that I have received from my managers has taught me a lot about the commercial aspects of the industry and has given me the confidence to succeed.
SIA has an incredibly wide array of job opportunities. Whatever your career interest might be, there is a position that will suit you in the organisation. Executives are offered an opportunity to rotate every two to three years to experience the various roles in the organisation. This provides an insight into SIA’s operations. The company also offers its executives an opportunity to sign up for the Overseas Managers Scheme or the Station Manager Scheme. Successful applicants will get an opportunity to run one of SIA’s many overseas stations or airport operations.
Do you have any advice for those who are thinking of applying for this scholarship?
While the opportunity to study abroad might seem enticing, I would implore potential applicants to sign up only if they do indeed have a strong interest in the commercial aviation sector. The airline industry can be both an incredibly challenging yet rewarding one. While SIA does offer plenty of mentorship, training, and support, the nature of the industry does demand innovation, resilience, and a keen passion. Think about the career aspect of the scholarship just as much as the educational part of it.