In the not-too-distant past, it was a mere fantasy to be able to traverse the globe in a matter of hours. Today, globalisation and unprecedented technological advancements have made that thought a common reality that is accessible by most.
Singapore Changi Airport officially opened in 1981 and was built to replace Paya Lebar Airport as Singapore’s commercial international airport. Since then, Singapore’s airline and aviation industry has gone from strength to strength, successfully establishing itself at the pinnacle of civil aviation. In an era where globalisation and technology have begun to blur geographical boundaries, it has never been more important to bring people and ideas together as we seek to maintain the tremendous standards of growth we have set for ourselves.
As a stalwart in the aviation industry, CAAS steers the growth of Singapore’s air hub and aviation industry along a path of continued excellence. Despite the rapidly shifting aviation landscape and increasing competition, CAAS’ approach of developing novel solutions through collaborative innovation and its focus on nurturing its people have given it a competitive edge in the industry. CAAS scholar Michelle Low tells us, “The Aviation Development Fund (ADF), which was established in 2010 with a budget of S$100 million, has allowed CAAS to develop and upgrade the aviation talent pool and workforce and push the boundaries of aviation excellence.”
In addition to the ADF, CAAS also attracts and grooms promising young talents for the aviation industry with its comprehensive scholarship programmes. As a returning scholar who has only just begun her career at CAAS, Michelle is clear testament to CAAS’ willingness to invest in its human capital.
Onwards and Upwards
And as a Deputy Manager in International Relations, Michelle deals with international aviation policies and the environment, with a special focus on economic measures. She elaborates, “I assist the Singapore Permanent Mission, based in the International Civil Aviation Organisation in Montreal, Canada. I am presently tasked with analysing aviation environment policies presented in international forums and assessing their impact in Singapore.”
Her work has led her to be part of several prominent global forums such as those organised by the Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection and the Environment Advisory Group, which oversees the development of global market-based measures to reduce international aviation emissions.
In addition, Michelle has been given quite a diverse portfolio at CAAS, and she also supports the Ministry of Transport in International Transport Emissions issues for the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change. She adds, “I also assist the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Climate Change, which consists of other governmental agencies, in issues related to international aviation emissions.”
The aviation industry is the first international transport sector to agree to develop and possibly implement a global measure to reduce its emissions. The aviation industry’s strong commitment towards climate change issues has certainly resonated well with Michelle. She enthuses, “The industry is working towards achieving a 1.5 per cent annual fuel efficiency improvement target and carbon neutral growth by 2020, as well as a 50 per cent reduction of 2020 emissions levels by 2050. This is really a movement that I am proud to be an integral part of.”
Michelle Low Zi Hua
CAAS Overseas Undergraduate Scholar
Designation: Deputy Manager, International Relations
Studying: Master of Philosophy in Technology Policy, University of Cambridge, UK
Bachelor of Engineering in Aeronautical Engineering, Imperial College London, UK
Although the pace of work in the International Relations division can be hectic, Michelle relishes the challenge and has taken it up with aplomb. Furthermore, the steep learning curve and small margin for error have trained her to think on her feet and become more attentive to the smallest of details – valuable skills in the fast-paced aviation industry.
An Enriching Journey
Michelle’s time overseas in the UK has also helped her achieve her potential and blossom as an individual. She has become far more independent and learnt how to better engage with and learn from diverse individuals from all walks of life and cultures.
She shares, “I set aside a portion of my time for extra-curricular activities while in university. I actively represented Imperial College London and the University of Cambridge in air pistol competitions. I also represented my college at Cambridge, Hughes Hall, in rowing competitions and my team was awarded a trophy blade in recognition of our achievements! I was also part of the planning committee for local events in the UK. I am grateful for these experiences as they helped me establish friendships and connections that are only possible through an overseas education.”
Michelle also had the opportunity to complete two internships with CAAS during her summer holidays. She recalls, “My first internship was with the Aviation Industry Division in the summer of 2011 and the second one was with the Safety Policy and Licensing (SPL) Division in the summer of 2013. I was fortunate to have nurturing supervisors who believed in my potential and allowed me to take on large responsibilities.
“They also took care to expose me to different aspects of work at CAAS. For instance, I got to try my hand at writing Management Committee papers and drafting Tender Approval Documents. In addition, I was involved in proposing amendments to the Singapore Air Safety Publication for external stakeholder engagement for the ADF and helped with the audit of flying training organisations while attached to the SPL Division. My internship experiences really provided me with important skills that I have since put to good use in my work!”
An Excellent Support Network
CAAS scholars also have access to an excellent talent management team, ensuring that they are supported at every step of their scholarship journey. When queried on the help she received during her time in the UK, Michelle is decidedly generous with her praise. She says candidly, “It is not easy to live overseas alone. Over the four years, I have grown very close to my scholarship officers and I view them as family as they have supported me through difficult times and helped me with problems in matters such as my visa, accommodation and even university administration.”
Furthermore, CAAS allows its scholars the freedom to pursue their interests in a wide variety of study areas. Michelle agrees, saying, “CAAS truly believes in grooming me as an individual. I was sponsored for my Master’s degree, and the CAAS management was equally supportive of my decision to opt for a specialisation in Technology Policy. I have really been privy to numerous opportunities that I would not have enjoyed if I were not a CAAS scholar.”
According to Michelle, enthusiasm, drive and initiative are key to succeeding as a CAAS scholar. She concludes, “I strongly believe that we need to find a job that inspires us. We should not make our career choices based on salary or prestige. I have been blessed with so many great experiences in an area that I am passionate about, and I would advise like-minded students to consider the CAAS scholarship and forge an equally rewarding scholarship journey for themselves!”