Our nation is an established global hub port connected to 600 ports in over 120 countries. With over 90 per cent of the world’s trade being transported by sea, Singapore remains well-positioned to prosper from her thriving maritime industry. In fact, the maritime and port sector continues to buoy local economy, tapping into its skilled workforce of over 170,000 to contribute around 7 per cent of Singapore’s gross domestic product.
MPA is the driving force behind Singapore’s port and maritime development, playing the roles of port authority, port regulator, port planner, International Marine Centre (IMC) Champion, and National Maritime Representative, working towards safeguarding Singapore’s strategic maritime interests.
Currently a manager at the International Division of MPA, MPA Overseas Undergraduate Scholar, Alexandra Nicolette Khoo Kim Hui provides research, analyses and consults on pertinent regulatory maritime issues. Putting her passion and flair for diplomacy to work, she also holds the role of regional desk officer for Europe. Alexandra’s impact on bilateral relations becomes rousingly clear when she witnesses national leaders relying on maritime briefs which she has prepared when meeting with high ranking European officials.
Kester Kiong Wen Yan
MPA Local Undergraduate Scholar
Bachelor in Chemical Engineering
National University of Singapore
Food for the Mind
With a natural knack for inquisition, Alexandra’s curiosity spurred her to apply for the scholarship in pursuit of greater knowledge, within the field of Politics and International Relations. The MPA Overseas Scholarship afforded her opportunities to indulge her passion for higher learning at two prestigious international universities - University of York and University of Chicago.
Starting work with MPA fresh out of university, Alexandra describes the strategically challenging nature of her job as exciting and a valuable catalyst for growth. She shares that this is only made possible through MPA prioritising the development of candidates both as individuals and as professionals.
Alexandra continually finds chances to improve her skillset on the job. She describes tapping on the expertise of helpful colleagues in improving her skillsets when faced with new challenges, “What has helped me through was learning as much as I could from my experienced colleagues and taking charge of my own learning.”
Alexandra also recalls a mentally stimulating moment on the job where she was privy to a thrilling international negotiation, “I was once involved in a meeting between international representatives to tackle a politically-charged issue. At times the negotiation got quite intense to the point where it seemed like it was a game of endurance instead. It was tiring but I thoroughly enjoyed the process – the fast-paced debate, the creative compromises, and the breakout of informal huddles – all to achieve an outcome that would satisfy all parties.”
Drawn to Opportunity
As a MPA scholar, Alexandra will find the future replete with career opportunities under the full support of the organisation.
Alexandra has settled in comfortably at MPA’s International Division, her department for the past three years. She has even managed to strike a healthy work-life balance. Alexandra elaborates, “I am grateful for MPA’s support for officers to pursue their hobbies and interest, anyone can start an interest group and MPA will subsidise the group’s activities. I have since started a rock-climbing group and through these intense full-body workout sessions the team and I have fostered closer bonds.”
Nonetheless, Alexandra is determined to further sharpen her acumen by embracing change when tackling future challenges. In particular, Alexandra looks forward to the MPA rotating her into a new role within the organisation.
Third-year NUS Chemical Engineering student and MPA local undergraduate scholar, Kester Kiong Wen Yan is similarly poised to make a mark on Singapore’s flourishing maritime industry. Kester explains that the maritime industry itself left him smitten with pursuing a scholarship and career with MPA. “Singapore’s key locality makes her a global hub port and I wanted to play a part in Singapore’s continuing leadership role in Asia,” he says.
Kester is grateful for the mid-term internships MPA sets up for him and other scholars to meet his aspirations for being a player in the booming maritime industry. He completed his internship last year with MPA’s Research & Technology and Industry Development (RTID) division, where he had the spirited opportunity to work up close and personal with modern 3D printing technology.
Kester fondly explains why the internship has left him more optimistic of his future career trajectory, “The internship was a fruitful experience for me as it gave me the opportunity to be part of a department of my choice. The programme allowed me to have a better view of the company’s work culture, and helped me more comprehensively explore the division and department I would like to be a part of in the future.”
At present, Kester is eagerly awaiting his next adventure, an upcoming MPA-sponsored exchange programme to Lund University in Sweden. He is especially keen on gaining new experience and sensibilities that would be helpful in business. He explains, “Such initiatives encourage us to gain global perspectives and allow the learning of how people of different cultures and nationalities carry out the operations, but differently and maybe even more efficiently.”
Alexandra Nicolette Khoo Kim Hui
MPA Overseas Undergraduate Scholar
The Right Fit
Kester pursued the MPA Local Undergraduate Scholarship as he was happy to not venture abroad for his undergraduate studies. He observes, “I never considered studying abroad seriously because I have always been rooted with our local culture and community. I also feel that NUS is a world-renowned institution that offers a sufficiently rigorous education.”
Speaking on his intuition on why he was successful in clinching the scholarship, Kester explains, “I did not obtain maximum grade points for my ‘A’ Levels, did not take any H3 papers and did not have a résumé brimming with content. I think what came through in my interview was my ability and keen interest to lead and contribute my utmost best to MPA.”
He has these concluding remarks for students considering scholarship applications, “What is more valuable than your grades or résumé is your ability to lead others well and onto the right path, with determination to do your best.”