Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore
Feature | MPA

Setting Sail with MPA

Beyond the breadth of exposure and teeming opportunities, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore offers you a chance to drive Singapore’s global maritime aspirations. Scholar Lee Zhong Yi welcomes you aboard Singapore’s leading maritime agency.

Lee Zhong Yi is an MPA Overseas Scholar. He currently works as an Assistant Manager (Marinetech and Digital Capabilities) at MPA. He has a Bachelor of Science in Economics from University College London and a Master of Science in Sustainability Management from Columbia University.

Established on 2 February 1996, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) is the driving force behind Singapore’s port and maritime development as it takes on the roles of Port Authority, Port Regulator, Port Planner, International Maritime Centre Champion, and National Maritime Representative. Its mission is to develop Singapore as a premier global hub port and international maritime centre, and to advance and safeguard Singapore’s strategic maritime interests.

The maritime sector has played a critical role in Singapore’s development from a third world to a first-world nation. It continues to be a significant engine of growth for Singapore’s economy, making up 7% of the nation’s GDP and employing more than 170,000 people in various technical and commerce-related functions.

Lee Zhong Yi finds it meaningful to be working in the maritime industry with MPA as it impacts the lives of many Singaporeans. He chose MPA as his ‘port of call’ when going through the list of scholarships from BrightSparks.

“Understanding the maritime sector from the perspective of a government agency allows for an appreciation of the interlinkages between various stakeholders,” he explained.

He wanted to engage in work involving both industry and policy, and MPA is one of the agencies with a wide scope of work in operations, policy and industry development. And not only that, but MPA is also involved in many aspects of the maritime sector, such as the pipeline of talent, maritime innovation, business ecosystem and the regulation of Singapore waters and port-related activities.

Beyond the breadth of exposure that MPA offers, there are also opportunities for staff to specialise and hone domain-specific skills such as maritime decarbonisation, maritime-related technical skills and the development of digitalisation initiatives such as the maritime data hub, digitalPORT@SG and digital trade documentation.

Summing it up, Zhong Yi said, “A career with MPA broadens your perspectives of the maritime industry and adjacent sectors, while providing opportunities to develop future-ready skills that will be valued in the digital and green economy.”

Lee Zhong Yi

Lee Zhong Yi

Full Steam Ahead

After making his decision to join MPA, it was full steam ahead and no looking back for Zhong Yi. He took up the MPA Overseas Scholarship to obtain a degree in Economics from University College London and a master’s degree in Sustainability Management from Columbia University in New York.

Despite his hectic overseas college life, Zhong Yi would find time to explore the country’s local culture and indulge in his personal interests such as music, theatre and board games (especially chess!).

Studying overseas provided Zhong Yi with more opportunities for personal growth as he learned to adapt to an unfamiliar environment and connect with people from all walks of life. “It also gave me space to reflect on what I truly care about, and who I am as a person,” he adds.

Besides studying overseas, Zhong Yi is also exposed to the maritime industry through a series of internships with MPA. “The experience gained during these internships gave me insight into the skills required in the workplace and how my academic work can prepare me for my career,” he said. His first internship involved developing Maritime Singapore’s strategy in view of global challenges while his next internship focused on industry manpower development.

A Strong Anchor

Zhong Yi is grateful for the support from MPA throughout his university education. “They were supportive of my decision to study economics in college and sustainability management for my masters. Throughout my education, they encouraged me to enroll for additional courses that are relevant to my work in MPA,” he adds.

On top of the internships, MPA also provides financial support for Zhong Yi’s full tuition fees and allowances. Now that he has embarked on his career with MPA, Zhong Yi is appreciative of the opportunities that his role has given him to learn and work with local and international stakeholders.

“The possibilities are endless in the maritime sector - it is up to all of us to chart our own paths.” Lee Zhong Yi

Navigating The Unchartered

Zhong Yi is currently working in the Innovation, Technology and Talent Development (ITTD) Division, with the aim to anchor core maritime research and technology development activities and grow new industry capabilities in areas such as decarbonisation and digitalisation.

One key workstream that Zhong Yi is involved is the development of Green and Digital Shipping Corridors to enable low and zero-carbon shipping. As part of this initiative, he is also overseeing a study on alternative fuel pathways to understand the likely composition of future fuels that will enable the sector to meet emissions targets, and the required investment in technology and infrastructure to support this multi-fuel transition.

A large part of his work involves bringing stakeholders together to agree on the way forward. “Getting stakeholders to commit to tangible actions is the most important but also the hardest part of my work. Most can agree on what is desirable for the industry. However, when it comes to what is doable, the discussion becomes more polarised. In order to drive change, it is imperative that we expand the overlap between what is desirable and doable.”

As he looks ahead, Zhong Yi is enthused by the limitless possibilities at MPA. He said, “Pursuing the kind of work you like to do will allow you to grow into the role and find meaning in your work. The possibilities are endless in the maritime sector - it is up to all of us to chart our own paths.”