With a reputation as one of the most renowned airlines in the world, Singapore Airlines Limited (SIA) continues to provide air transportation services of the highest quality. SIA’s commitment to fleet modernisation, product and service innovation, and market leadership has fuelled the organisation’s evolution into an internationally respected travel brand. But what is truly paramount to SIA’s success story are the bright minds whose dedication keeps SIA moving ahead of the competition. Sharing more about what it takes to build a career with SIA, 28-year-old Elaine Cai, an executive with SIA, tells us her story.
How did you develop an interest in the aviation sector?
I’ve always loved travelling and meeting new people. Working in the aviation sector has enabled me to pursue this and my current role gives me plenty of opportunities to see the world and collaborate with different stakeholders in the industry. I’ve been sent on regular overseas trips to attend conferences and workshops organised by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Star Alliance where I get to ideate with the industry’s brightest to shape the future of air travel.
What was your motivation behind pursuing a scholarship and career with SIA?
With the future increase in demand for air travel, it is important to constantly innovate new products and services to keep ahead of the curve. This dynamism and constant need to problemsolve fascinate and challenge me greatly and drew me to SIA.
Furthermore, SIA is a global brand which has won multiple international awards. Being part of such a reputable company assures me of well-established processes and a working culture which will facilitate my growth especially as a fresh graduate.
SIA Open Scholarship
Executive, Global Baggage Operations
Bachelor of Engineering in Industrial & Systems Engineering
– National University of Singapore
How has your scholarship helped you to achieve your goals?
The SIA scholarship has enabled me to pursue my higher education at the National University of Singapore. Having the tuition fees and on-campus accommodation costs paid for eased my financial burdens, allowing me to focus not only on my studies but other enriching activities in school, such as participating in the NUS Student Ambassadors Programme.
As SIA undergoes a digital transformation in today’s fast-changing world, the programming and software engineering skills I have picked up in NUS have also facilitated my quest to improve airport operations through digitalisation.
What other development opportunities has the scholarship given you?
I was funded by the SIA scholarship to undergo a student exchange programme in Canada where I worked with students from other cultural backgrounds. Through their passion and desires to change the world, I was influenced to rethink my position as a global citizen and how I could contribute in my own ways.
As part of the scholarship, I also underwent internships in SIA. As an intern, I was tasked to complete several projects which helped me gain insights on the airline industry. With the early exposure to different challenges, I managed to learn and develop skills which boosted my confidence when I eventually joined the company.
What are your current roles and responsibilities?
My current portfolio is to optimise baggage operations on a network level to enhance customer experience. Baggage operations may sound simple, but it lies on a complex web of managing people, processes, and systems with different stakeholders.
I study baggage trends for the SIA network via data analytics and propose workable solutions to improve the existing process, taking into consideration the human factors and various operational constraints in different airports. During my interactions with the overseas station staff, I have come to appreciate the different approaches taken to resolve problems in various environments, which help me to develop contextual strategies.
How does SIA help you to develop your skills further?
SIA has a nurturing environment which facilitates growth. I enrolled myself in various courses of interest (such as data storytelling, design thinking, etc.). I am also entrusted with the autonomy to frame issues and draw the roadmap to solutions. This gives me great flexibility and empowerment to develop the areas under my purview.
The job rotation scheme in SIA also helps to equip employees with broad organisational knowledge and improve staff versatility. I believe this is very valuable as I would be exposed to knowledge in a multitude of areas, which would improve my understanding of various constraints and facilitates more effective decisions in future.
Any words of advice for those thinking of applying for the scholarship?
Come with an open mind and be willing to learn and adapt quickly. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – it helps you to understand and allows others to revise their knowledge. Also, don’t be taken aback by the multitude of crossdivisional and cross-functional projects as these will open your eyes to the work in other areas of the company. Finally, be courageous in voicing out your opinions—SIA values every opinion—and be the change you want to see.