Left: Sharon Li is a Manager (Airport Operations and Facilitation) at Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, where her role is to grow air traffic in a safe manner through policy formulation. She is a CAAS Local Undergraduate Scholar and has a Law Degree from NUS.
Right: Douglas Chan, CAAS Scholar, pursued his Master of Science in Management Science and Engineering in Columbia University in the US. He is in his first rotation as a Deputy Manager (Masterplan), part of the team that is responsible for charting the long-term development strategy for next-generation air traffic management capabilities.
Since last year, Covid-19 has battered the aviation industry as borders closed and travel ground nearly to a halt.
However, our position as the world’s most awarded airport, our enviable air safety record and our reputation as a respected centre for aviation training never wavered through such challenges.
This is thanks to the tireless work of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), our national aviation authority.
Even as it maintains our world-class air network, the organisation continues to cast its gaze to our aviation future. It is pushing ahead with plans to upgrade its air traffic management system, looking at the long-term future of air travel and facilitating safe air travel recovery.
CAAS Scholars Sharon Li and Douglas Chan are proud contributors to the skies of tomorrow. Sharon’s work in the Airport Operations Regulation and Aviation Security (ARAS) has her overseeing transfer flights, while Douglas is in his first rotation as Deputy Manager in the Masterplan section of Air Traffic Management (ATM) Plans and Development Division.
Just like the future of our aviation sector, their tomorrows are also brimming with possibilities in CAAS.
Facilitating Air Travel Recovery
How it started
Right from the beginning, Sharon knew she wanted to be in the public sector and to work in aviation. “Working in the public service gives me the opportunity to do something for Singapore in my own small way, while aviation is a dynamic industry with passionate people,” she explained.
Hence, CAAS naturally caught her eye as a prospective sponsor. What cinched the decision for her, however, was something very special about the CAAS Local Undergraduate Scholarship.
“CAAS was a good fit as it was one of a few organisations which offered the option to study law, then work in policy,” she highlighted. Thinking ahead, she saw that a law background would teach her analytical skills necessary for effective policy making. CAAS evidently felt the same, sponsoring her Law Degree in NUS.
Upon graduation, Sharon’s convictions about the use of law in policy were proven true. As a Manager in the Airport Operations and Facilitation division, her role is to grow air traffic in a safe manner through policy formulation – and a law degree gave her the lens from which to propose change.
“Getting the facts clear is important in law as well as policy-making, to define the problem first before finding solutions,” she explained. “Having a law background also helps in drafting documents such as circulars and letters.”
Sharon is thankful to her colleagues at CAAS for their help navigating the turbulence Covid-19 has brought. While the work remains exceedingly fast-paced, with guidelines updated around the clock and sometimes on very short notice, her teammates provided advice and encouragement that helped her push on.
“My colleagues are friendly and supportive; having a good team helps us to stay motivated!” she smiled.
Welcoming New Officers
She looks forward to more people joining the CAAS family as the air industry recovers. “Divisions in CAAS, including my own, are working hard towards air travel recovery, together with other government agencies and airport stakeholders.”
“If aviation and public service are areas that make you want to wake up to start work, to go above and beyond for efficient and safe air travel, I welcome you to consider joining CAAS.”
Managing the Masterplan
From Mechanics to Management
Douglas’ story begins very differently from Sharon’s. While searching on BrightSparks for a scholarship from an industry that was critical to Singapore’s development, he came across the aviation industry as the place to make a difference.
“Aviation naturally caught my attention because I love exploring Changi Airport and flying to new destinations,” he smiled.
But his interest went deeper than that. Douglas was deeply cognisant of the fact that our small size and finite resources mean that our air hub is crucial to economic development.
This made CAAS, the main force behind aviation development in Singapore, the perfect choice for his further studies.
He explained: “Aviation has opened up Singapore to the world, by building connections with other nations and proliferating our international influence globally. As such, I was excited to be part of this CAAS team to strengthen our aviation sector.”
The organisation felt the same about Douglas’ drive, and sponsored his Masters in Management Science and Engineering at Columbia University, opening the doors to the real-world consulting experiences he had been dreaming of.
Charting the Future of the Aviation Industry
The opportunity to study overseas widened his perspectives of the world, which he is applying to great effect in his role as Deputy Manager in the Masterplan section of ATM Plans and Development Division.
The Masterplan refers to charting the long-term development strategy for next-generation air traffic management capabilities for the Air Navigation Services Group to be future-ready. Under this roadmap, future traffic growth will be managed safely and efficiently through leveraging on accelerated technologies and digitialisation.
This is where Douglas’ management mindset comes into play. “The holistic education I gained from my Master’s course has taught me to analyse issues from various angles and consider different perspectives. This has helped me to strategically frame our ATM development strategy.”
He expressed full confidence in not only the recovery of the aviation industry, but CAAS’ ongoing place in its development. “Despite uncertainties due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, I believe Singapore’s aviation sector has strong fundamentals to aid its recovery and continue to ensure a safe aviation environment.”
Where You Begin with CAAS
Like Sharon, Douglas believes that as the industry moves towards the future, CAAS will require new blood to continue its innovation journey.
He encouraged those on the fence thus: “If you are looking for exposure to the aviation sector in a challenging and fast-paced work environment, then you would be a good fit in CAAS!”