Singapore’s modern and highly-developed economy is powered by SP’s top-notch power grid, which keeps the country’s homes and businesses humming 24/7. Deft management of the country’s energy ecosystem requires equally capable personnel, such as SP Scholars Zac Teo, 26, and Vanessa Koh, 25.
What sparked your interest in engineering, and how did it lead you to take up a Singapore Power Scholarship?
Zac Teo: As someone who favours a systematic approach to handling life’s various challenges and problems, I am naturally drawn to the field of engineering, where analysing problems and devising practical solutions are an everyday affair.
And when it comes to engineering, SP takes a ground-up approach and puts its scholars right into the field to learn from hands-on experience, something which I truly value. The SP Scholarship was an attractive option as it provides structured training for a fresh engineer and also supports me in my aspirations to be a Professional Engineer. The graduate development programme offered by SP is holistic and comprises a good mix of technical and ‘soft’ skill courses, on-the-job training, job rotations and other career development activities.
Zac Teo Zi Cheng
Singapore Power Scholar
Designation: Executive Engineer, Special Projects, Cable Tunnels
Studied: Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical Engineering), National University of Singapore
Vanessa Koh: My father, an engineer who has since retired, inspired me by coming up with very ingenious solutions to problems through a combination of analytical thinking and a dash of creativity. I also liked the fact that engineering provides me with a good foundation in analytical thinking, which is critical to solving real-life problems.
I applied for the SP scholarship as SP has a comprehensive graduate development programme which provides job rotations to fresh graduates, giving them an insight into the different areas of SP’s critical operations. This struck me as a good learning opportunity as it exposed me to different facets of the organisation.
Tell us more about your experience as a Singapore Power Scholar – how was it memorable for you?
Zac: SP Scholars are given ample opportunities to be involved in projects such as organising corporate events, which serve to hone our organisational and communication skills. I was the team captain for the recent company-wide Sports for Life event, where SP employees bonded while working out through exciting team activities such as tele-matches. I was also the secretary for the Senior Management Committee meetings and the stint provided me with exposure to the strategic discussions and decision-making processes of SP’s senior management.
Vanessa: Getting the SP Scholarship opened up many possibilities for me during my undergraduate studies – I was able to participate in various immersion programmes and these experiences have greatly contributed to my personal development.
I was also part of the pioneer batch of SP’s Engineering Development for GraduatEs (EDGE) programme with 27 fellow engineers, which has a structured one-year foundation course where theory-based lessons are paired with short-term attachments to different operational sections.
This allowed us to put theory into practice and gain a better understanding of the different work operations. On top of that, EDGE engineers are put through rotations to key critical operational areas and sponsored for professional engineering certifications.
What are your roles and responsibilities at Singapore Power?
Zac: I’m currently part of the Special Projects department which develops the next-generation power infrastructure – more specifically, the Transmission Cable Tunnel Project (TCTP), where cross-island cable tunnels will be constructed 60 metres below the ground. I’m also in charge of the Mechanical & Electrical (M&E) services and my job scope includes the review of designs, improving the reliability and safety of equipment on-site and the bulk purchase of equipment.
The TCTP will not only provide a long-term solution to the on-going upgrading and renewal of the power cable grid infrastructure in Singapore, but also facilitate the replacement of electrical transmission cables. There is also a reduced risk of damage by other third-party construction works as the cables are protected by the tunnels.
It was a steep learning curve for me when I first joined the team as I had to pick up civil and M&E-related knowledge quickly. Thankfully, the senior engineers were helpful and willing to coach me and share their valuable knowledge and experience.
Vanessa: I am currently with Distribution Network Projects and we implement network projects that extend or reinforce the electricity distribution network. For instance, we provide or upgrade the electrical supply for development areas such as HDB estates and industrial areas. We also carry out network reconfiguration projects to improve the network for better supply reliability.
We thus have to work as a team to leverage on one another’s experiences and knowledge to implement the planned modifications to the network and resolve any problems quickly. The bond forged with my fellow colleagues as we work together to resolve problems is something that I really cherish. As a frontline engineer, no day is ever dull!
Vanessa Koh Wen Mei
Singapore Power Scholar
Designation: Engineer, Electricity Operations / Network Development / Distribution Projects /Distribution Network Projects
Studied: Bachelor of Engineering (Electrical Engineering), National University of Singapore
Bachelor of Social Science (Economics), National University of Singapore
How has Singapore Power developed you both personally and professionally?
Zac: SP believes in developing and nurturing its staff to their fullest potential. SP has been awarded the People Developer Standard in recognition of our strong emphasis on human capital development and management.
Over a span of two years, I have been exposed to the operations in three different critical sections, i.e. Gas Distribution Operations & Maintenance, Gas Emergency Response & Regulator Maintenance and Cable Tunnels. This has given me a good in-depth understanding of SP’s core businesses. I have also gone on business trips to Japan and China to evaluate engineering equipment for the TCTP. It was an eye-opening experience and my knowledge of how to operate equipment in the industry had significantly deepened.
I have also attended courses in communication, writing, presentation and problem-solving which equip us with valuable skills for work. All in all, these experiences have helped me broaden my perspective and this will help me become a good engineer and leader in SP.
Vanessa: Besides technical training and support for my Professional Engineering certification, SP has been actively supporting me as I prepare for the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exams, and I feel that the CFA will help to broaden my perspective beyond the technical role.
My most challenging assignment thus far was taking up the emcee role for the Singapore Power Annual Staff Convention. The prospect of addressing a 1000-strong crowd on stage seemed very daunting at first, but my preparation helped me to perform well and I’ve gained much confidence as a result!
What insights have you acquired during your time with Singapore Power?
Zac: Singapore’s power supply is among the most reliable and efficient in the world. With Singapore’s rapid growth and the corresponding increase in power demand, I am proud to say that we are able to meet the challenge of sustaining this level of reliability and cost-effectiveness and provide a long-term solution for the continued reliability and security of the electrical network.
Vanessa: With SP’s world-class performance in the energy utility industry, a career in SP is a natural choice to hone your knowledge and skills in power engineering. As a People Developer Standard organisation, I am assured that SP focuses on staff learning and development.
What words of wisdom would you have for aspiring Singapore Power scholars?
Zac: SP Scholars can look forward to structured training such as the EDGE programme and ample opportunities to learn in their journey to becoming a competent and certified engineer. SP Scholars should keep an open mind, be willing to step out of your comfort zone and seize the opportunities that come your way!
Vanessa: In SP, one can look forward to a vibrant learning environment. This comes in various forms such as training courses, overseas business trips, sharing of best practices and guidance from senior colleagues. In short — join SP if you have a passion for power engineering and you aspire to be part of the team that powers the nation!