Singapore Maritime Foundation
Feature | SMF

Anchoring Success in the Maritime Industry

Founded in 2004, the Singapore Maritime Foundation (SMF) has a twin mission to strengthen and promote Singapore as an International Maritime Centre (IMC); and to build a sustainable pipeline of talent to support the industry’s growth. Through close collaboration with the industry, SMF identifies and grooms promising young talent like MaritimeONE scholars Natasha Cheng and Ezra Koh See Hwa who will lead the next wave of transformation in the maritime sector.

Left: Natasha Cheng was awarded the Wan Hai — MaritimeONE Scholarship this year. She is pursuing a Bachelor of Business Management with a Specialisation in Maritime Business & Operations at SMU.

Right: Ezra Koh See Hwa is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence at NTU. He is a recipient of the Asiatic Lloyd — MaritimeONE Scholarship.

The Singapore Maritime Foundation (SMF) serves as a conduit between the public and private sectors, working in concert with key stakeholders across the maritime ecosystem to nurture an interdisciplinary pool of talent with the requisite skillsets to respond to major current and emerging industry challenges. To achieve this goal, SMF partners the government, industry and unions to administer the MaritimeONE Scholarships annually. The scholarships are awarded to qualified tertiary students across a wide spectrum of disciplines who express a strong desire to pursue a career in maritime. As of this year, a total of 584 MaritimeONE scholarships with a sponsorship value of $16 million have been awarded since the programme began in 2007.

Among these scholars are Ezra Koh See Hwa and Natasha Cheng, recipients of the Asiatic Lloyd — MaritimeONE Scholarship and the Wan Hai — MaritimeONE Scholarship, respectively. Ezra is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence at NTU. Natasha is enrolled at SMU, where she is working towards a Bachelor of Business Management with a Specialisation in Maritime Business & Operations. Despite the distinct trajectories of their academic and career paths, they are both dedicated to driving innovation, sustainability and global excellence within the maritime sector.

Ezra, what motivated you to take up the MaritimeONE Scholarship?

While I’ve always loved being by the sea since I was young, my true appreciation for the maritime industry deepened when I came across the MaritimeONE Scholarships on BrightSparks. I was thrilled to find out that MaritimeONE Scholarships extend beyond maritime disciplines, actively seeking talent from diverse fields like data science, mechanical engineering, and even law. This forward-thinking, interdisciplinary mindset resonated with me, and it is one of the many things that makes me proud to be an Asiatic Lloyd – MaritimeONE Scholar.

Natasha, what sparked your initial interest in the maritime field?

I was first exposed to opportunities in the maritime industry when my professor discussed trade being the lifeblood of Singapore’s economy during a lesson. This served as a catalyst for me to further explore the industry. Learning that Singapore is one of the world’s busiest transshipment hubs in the world also inspired me to be a part of an industry that serves as the backbone supporting the flow of goods between Singapore and its trading counterparts. This was also an opportunity for me to gain exposure to the realm of international trade, a field which I have always been keen to explore.

Interesting! Can you elaborate on the degrees you are both currently pursuing?

Ezra: I am reading a combination of Math and Computer Science modules that are specifically chosen to complement each other and provide a unique perspective. These modules equip me with key tools and techniques for my field. For instance, SC1015 (Introduction to Data Science) and MH2500 (Probability and Statistics) go hand in hand, as proficiency in data manipulation and analysis is incomplete without a solid grounding in statistics.

Natasha: Under SMU’s Maritime Business & Operations specialisation, students are given exposure to a myriad of opportunities, including overseas exchanges with partner universities, industry study missions, and talks by industry professionals or company visits. These overseas exchanges, facilitate interactions with fellow students from other countries who share a passion for the maritime industry, allowing for meaningful conversations to be exchanged to broaden our perspectives beyond what we know about Singapore’s maritime environment.

Through these experiences, we also get to learn about key industrial developments. As the global drive towards decarbonisation and digitalisation efforts accelerate, we get to hear about the unique strategies that these industry players are adopting to stay ahead of the competition. These invaluable insights are especially relevant as we enter the industry in a time of rapid transition.

How do you envision applying what you’ve learned to your future careers in the maritime industry?

Ezra: Data Science and AI are tools that I hope to leverage to spearhead change and develop innovative solutions that enhance the efficiency of the industry. I aspire to make it faster, greener, and better. Change may be hard, but evolution is necessary. Therefore, I hope to relentlessly pursue improvement, and when necessary, become a trailblazer whose shoulders the future Isaac Newtons of the maritime industry will stand upon.

Natasha: As the maritime industry thrives on cross-border collaboration and interaction, I hope that my experiences with individuals of diverse backgrounds can help to advance my career in the maritime industry. Through embracing diversity and our differences, I hope to work cohesively with others, leveraging our unique experiences to advance common goals that contribute to the growth of the company.

Ezra, could you describe how has SMF enhanced your university experience this far?

SMF has significantly enriched my academic journey through various extracurricular activities. For example, I got to interact with fellow scholars and give back to the community during the MaritimeONE Scholars’ Advance Programme. During this programme, we packed and distributed food to the needy, highlighting the importance of strong leadership and good teamwork.

The MaritimeONE Scholarship Award Ceremony was another event that I enjoyed very much as it allowed me to further strengthen my bonds with my peers, as well as network and engage in eye-opening conversations with industry leaders regarding current trends that are specifically related to their business sectors.

That’s incredible! Natasha, do you have any parting words of advice for those considering applying for the MaritimeONE Scholarship?

I would encourage anyone interested in learning more about the maritime industry to apply for the MaritimeONE Scholarship. The scholarship provides valuable experiences, from networking to internships and learning experiences. The opportunities to grow and learn in this dynamic industry are abundant. For students who are seeking guidance in their maritime journey, it is a wonderful opportunity to meet industry professionals who can offer insights and advice. It also opens doors to be a part of a close-knit community that you can reach out to even after graduating from the programme, offering ongoing opportunities for engagement and inspiration.