Scholars' experience Details

Reaching for  the skies

Reaching for the skies

MS DU Yiran, 25, always dreamt of a career that would allow her to work towards a larger cause. Pair that aspiration with her love for travelling and experiencing different cultures, and the aviation industry was the perfect choice. “I find the idea of working in aviation exciting, as it is a bridge of sorts, bringing together people, idea and cultures from all over the world,” says the air navigation services policy and planning (ANSPP) manager with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS).

CHASING DREAMS

Certain that she wanted a career in the public service that would offer her a global outlook and a chance to contribute to strategic national goals, Ms Du applied for the CAAS Overseas Undergraduate Scholarship after completing her A levels at Hwa Chong Institution in 2010. She says: “A scholarship with CAAS presented me with the opportunity to achieve these aspirations, and also to work in a vibrant and multi-faceted industry.” Ms Du pursued a degree in international relations and economics at Tufts University, in Massachusetts, United States, after which she completed a master’s degree in technology policy at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. She says the years she spent studying abroad expanded her horizons, and taught her to be independent and adaptable. As part of her scholarship requirement, she also interned at CAAS during her summer breaks, working with two divisions: air navigation services policy and planning (ANSPP) and aviation industry. She says: “These internships were useful in giving me insight into CAAS’ varied functions as a regulator, industry developer and air navigation service provider.”

LEARNING THE ROPES

In 2015, Ms Du joined CAAS fulltime in the futures and planning office (FPO), where she dealt with long-term strategic planning. The FPO team identifies possible future trends which may have an impact on aviation, and the potential risks and opportunities to CAAS and the local aviation industry.

“These future trends are taken into consideration when policies are developed to ensure that they are robust and future ready,” she says. After a two-year stint, she joined the ANSPP as a manager. with these senior officers not only enriches my understanding of the operational and technical ins and outs of air navigation services provision, but also provides me with an appreciation of their public-spiritedness and dedication to their job.” One initial challenge, says Ms Du, was the need to develop a functional understanding of air navigation services within a short time, in order to be an effective policy officer who can meet the demands of a fast-paced operating environment. She recalls: “There was a steep learning curve — supportive bosses and team-mates, and a commitment to learning helped me get over the initial hump.” Her team is responsible for planning, formulating and coordinating airspace policies. She says: “We take our work seriously, given its implications on the safety and efficiency of air traffic. “My portfolio is very fast-paced and dynamic, which makes it challenging and very exciting at the same time. I find my work extremely meaningful, given its impact on the public’s means of access to the rest of the world.” For Ms Du, one of the highlights of her job is the opportunity to meet foreign delegates and thought leaders in the international aviation community. Speaking with them about their experiences crafting policies that benefit the lives of so many serves as an inspiration for her. Another perk is getting to work closely with, and learn from, experienced air traffic controllers. She says: “My daily interaction with these senior officers not only enriches my understanding of the operational and technical ins and outs of air navigation services provision, but also provides me with an appreciation of their public-spiritedness and dedication to their job.” One initial challenge, says Ms Du, was the need to develop a functional understanding of air navigation services within a short time, in order to be an effective policy officer who can meet the demands of a fast-paced operating environment. She recalls: “There was a steep learning curve — supportive bosses and team-mates, and a commitment to learning helped me get over the initial hump.”

That nurturing culture and commitment to developing its officers also means that, in her short time with CAAS, Ms Du has already had the chance to undergo strategic planning and public policy courses to further hone her critical thinking skills, as well as aviation-related courses to deepen her technical knowledge. For aspiring scholars who are keen to follow in her footsteps, Ms Du says that due to the intensity of the job, a strong commitment to public service is key, as the heavy demands may otherwise wear a person out. She adds that they should have a “firm interest in global affairs which would make their career with CAAS more fulfilling”.

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