Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA)
Features | Maritime

Building A Global
Maritime Hub

The Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) of Singapore provides its scholars with the support and resources they need to thrive in Singapore’s vibrant maritime industry and to help Singapore grow as a premier international maritime centre (IMC).

Singapore’s maritime industry is a dynamic ecosystem of maritime and port services, home to over 130 international shipping groups and fast becoming Asia’s hub for maritime law and arbitration, and a crucial player in the offshore and marine engineering sector.

Singapore is held in esteem by the international maritime community and it is also the place where key players, ideas and opportunities in the global maritime industry congregate. Behind all of these is MPA, the driving force of Singapore’s success as an international maritime hub and the organisation responsible for identifying and cultivating talents in this exciting field.

In addition, MPA represents and aims to safeguard Singapore’s maritime interests by partnering with industry organisations and other agencies to enhance the safety, security and environmental protection of Singapore’s waters and to also facilitate the continued growth of the industry. MPA scholars Gladys Tan and Nelson Tay tell us about the boundless opportunities they have had and how they have enjoyed as members of the thriving maritime community.

Establishing an international maritime centre

Gladys, who has always wanted to work in the Singapore Public Service, admits that it was only by association with MPA that eventually gave her more in-depth exposure to the maritime industry. She elaborates, “I didn’t want to be someone who sat around and complained about our system’s inefficiencies without making any effort to correct them. I wanted more out of my career than it being just a job. I hope to be able to continue to help shape the maritime industry and MPA as an organisation.”

Gladys Tan Peiwen
MPA Overseas Undergraduate Scholar

Designation: Assistant Manager (Port Policy)

Studied: Master of Arts in Regional Studies (East Asia),
Columbia University, US

Bachelor of Science in Biological
Sciences with Management,
Imperial College London, UK

"I remember very fondly the opportunity I had to shadow an MPA officer who was stationed in London for the International Maritime Organisation meetings – it was truly an eye-opener for me!"

As an Assistant Manager in Port Policy at MPA, Gladys helps to formulate policies on tariff regulatory frameworks, port charges and incentive schemes. She elaborates, “These policies act as signals to the industry to help incentivise and grow specific areas of the maritime sector. This will provide the impetus to spur a collective effort from all relevant stakeholders to help keep Singapore’s maritime industry vibrant.”

Her compatriot Nelson, who is still pursuing his Computer Science degree at Nanyang Technological University also did not envisage a career in the maritime sector from the start, instead he was looking at joining IT giants such as Microsoft, IBM or Hewlett Packard.

He explains, “My thinking changed after I was assigned to PSA Corporation for a six-month internship. I went in with an open mind, acquired new knowledge and learned more about maritime sector and the history behind MPA’s formation. When the opportunity for a MPA scholarship opened, I knew that was what I wanted and I immediately applied for it!”

Providing a sea of opportunities

MPA is dedicated to providing Gladys and Nelson with all the resources they need to succeed. Gladys attended overseas seminars and conferences to familiarise herself with the global maritime industry. She adds, “I remember very fondly the opportunity I had to shadow an MPA officer who was stationed in London for the International Maritime Organisation meetings – it was truly an eye-opener for me!”

During her student days at Imperial College London in the UK, Gladys also had access to internship opportunities and the chance to participate in various staff events at MPA. She adds, “I thought it was a clever way to integrate us into the organisation and to impart some technical knowledge, way before we started serving our bonds. These experiences helped cushion the transition from school to work and I was able to better concentrate on 'learning the ropes' without the distraction of being in a completely foreign environment.”

“Opportunities to interact with our (then, future) colleagues also gave us the opportunity to better prepare ourselves for actual work life.” Similarly, Nelson has had his fair share of opportunities to prepare him for his future job. He enthuses, “I was given the opportunity to develop an IT programme which facilitated the work process in the Human Resource (HR) Division. I also got to interact with my future colleagues and gained a better understanding of what working life at MPA would be like.”

Nelson Tay Kai Xian
MPA Local Undergraduate Scholar

Studying: Bachelor in Computer Science,
Nanyang Technological University

He adds, “My colleagues in the HR department and I had also participated in several scholarship fairs, where I served as an ambassador to promote the MPA scholarship. These platforms were great opportunity for scholars to share personal experiences and to relate our scholarship journeys to students and parents.”

MPA also supported Nelson on his six-month exchange programme to Uppsala University in Sweden, where he had the chance to widen his horizons through travel and exposures to new cultures. “I was thrilled to explore the place! The entire journey was truly a rare and insightful privilege,” he says, smiling.

A scholarship unlike any other

Even though she already has two years of work experience, Gladys still remembers her positive experience as a scholarship applicant fresh from Junior College. She shares, “I wasn’t quizzed condescendingly about MPA or the industry, nor was I made to compete with my fellow applicants or clamour for speaking opportunities in front of an audience.”

Nelson also felt that the scholarship selection process allowed him to focus on himself, instead of worrying about outdoing other applicants. He says, “During the scholarship interviews, the interviewers were more interested in how I articulated my life goals and how I could contribute to MPA. I could concentrate on the future I saw for myself and worked to convince the interviewers of my genuine desire to help build Singapore’s maritime community.”

Both Gladys and Nelson are testaments to the fact that the MPA truly needs a diverse array of competencies. Nelson chips in, “As an IT undergraduate, I aim to keep myself updated with the latest technology in order to constantly explore new methods that can help upgrade and improve the work processes and systems in the maritime industry.”

“As Singapore is one of the world’s busiest ports, I see myself playing an important role in making sure the industry’s IT systems are capable of supporting a world-class port. I am truly glad to be part of this vibrant maritime ecosystem and treasure the opportunity to contribute to MPA and the maritime industry,” he affirms.