Singapore Maritime Foundation
Feature | SMF

Sailing Forward

The Singapore Maritime Foundation, with its all-encompassing purview of the industry, plays a pivotal role in strengthening Singapore as an International Maritime Centre.

left: Neo Boon Hock is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Engineering (Industrial and Systems Engineering) at the National University of Singapore. He is a recipient of the Jurong Port - MaritimeONE Scholarship.

Right: Joey Ong is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Maritime Studies at Nanyang Technological University. She is a recipient of the LCH Lockton – MaritimeONE Scholarship.

With shipping moving more than 80% of world trade, the maritime industry remains a significant one. Singapore is one of the busiest transshipment hubs in the world, and has been recognised as the world’s leading maritime capital by Menon Economics for the fourth consecutive time in 2019.

As the representative voice for the maritime industry, the Singapore Maritime Foundation (SMF) works closely with stakeholders across all sectors of the industry – shipping, port, offshore and marine and maritime services, driving manpower initiatives to attract more talent into the industry and ensure the continued growth of the maritime ecosystem.

To support talent growth, SMF administers the MaritimeONE scholarship, providing many opportunities to help its scholars prepare for careers in a dynamic and fast-paced industry.

We speak with two MaritimeONE scholars, Neo Boon Hock and Joey Ong Gui Qing, as they share their experiences in the maritime industry.

How did you discover the MaritimeONE scholarship and why did you eventually apply for it?

Boon Hock: I learnt about the scholarship through BrightSparks. After researching more about the maritime industry, I realised that the industry offers many opportunities for me to learn and grow, as well as pursue my areas of interest. These reasons led me to apply for the scholarship eventually.

Joey Ong: I happened to chance upon the scholarship on the Maritime Singapore Connect (MSC) Office website while looking for a suitable internship – the MSC Office is a unit under SMF and aids in connecting students and jobseekers to maritime opportunities. After learning more about the industry through the website, I realised that the maritime industry offers an ocean full of opportunities, which led me to apply for the scholarship.

What do you feel about the maritime industry in Singapore?

Boon Hock: Singapore’s maritime industry is currently undergoing a digital transformation to ensure that we maintain our competitive edge, and ensure an increase in productivity and efficiency levels. One example of digitalisation occurring in the industry is the recent opening of the new Centre of Excellence in Modelling and Simulation for Next Generation Ports (C4NGP), which aims to improve innovative capabilities of the upcoming Tuas Port through simulation and optimisation.

Joey: The maritime industry is fastpaced and an ever-evolving one, which makes it very exciting. The maritime industry is also widely perceived to be male-dominated, but I feel that gender is not a barrier to entering the industry at all. With hard work and a positive attitude, anyone can excel in this industry.

Joey Ong

Joey Ong

What are the opportunities provided by the scholarship that has enabled you to excel in your education or future career?

Boon Hock: The MaritimeONE scholarship enables me to expand my professional network, as well as my understanding of the industry, through internships, exchange programmes, industry talks and networking events. These sessions also help in giving me a head start over my peers and better prepare me for an industry that is less ventured by those pursuing nonmaritime courses.

Joey Ong: With this scholarship, I am driven to be the best at what I do. The scholarship, together with events organised by the SMF, such as networking events, port visits and career workshops, have allowed me to meet with industry leaders and fellow scholars and learn more from them.

Did you always shape your academic years for the maritime industry? Or, did things just fall naturally into place?

Boon Hock: It was due to my interest in operational research and modelling which led me to explore the maritime industry. After researching further, I developed a deep interest in this industry as I saw many opportunities to apply my knowledge.

Joey Ong: I applied for a scholarship with LCH Lockton as it matched my strengths and interests. Furthermore, during the scholarship interview, the interviewer shared about the many learning opportunities and routes for career progression that the industry has to offer, which pushed me to apply for the scholarship.

How do you think you can contribute to the maritime industry in the future?

Boon Hock: Personally, with my non-maritime background, I am confident I can contribute to the industry with fresh perspectives and different skillsets, such as process optimisation. With the industry’s shift towards digitalisation, backgrounds in IT, analytics and even process optimisation are key.

Joey Ong: Aside from the technical skills gained from school, I have excellent personal management skills. Furthermore, my experience in Dragonboat taught me about teamwork and this adds value to working in this people-centric industry. I hope I can lead projects in my future career, and work on different portfolios to gain more exposure in the industry. I also wish to focus on further developing my interpersonal skills by meeting more people from diverse backgrounds.

“The maritime industry is also widely perceived to be male-dominated, but I feel that gender is not a barrier to entering the industry at all. With hard work and a positive attitude, anyone can excel in this industry.” Joey Ong

What kind of advice would you bestow to future scholars seeking this trade?

Boon Hock: My advice to future scholars is to keep an open mind and have resilience – these will help in overcoming challenges and pursuing new opportunities.

Joey Ong: People often associate the maritime industry with containers or sea bound work, but the maritime industry is so much more than that, comprising roles in ship management, ship financing, marine insurance, to name a few. There are many pathways to the industry, so don’t hesitate and dive right in!