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How he's using data to make the Changi Airport welcome even warmer
By Marianne Tan
Joshua Tam Changi Airport Group
Mr Joshua Tam says his keen interest in data stems from his fascination with using it to effect the outcome in competitive sports. PHOTO: CHANGI AIRPORT GROUP

Improving customer experience and minimising check-in times are some ways this scholar has made a difference

Having grown up overseas in Japan and China for most of his childhood due to his father’s job, Mr Joshua Tam cherished every trip back home to visit friends and family. Naturally, Changi Airport became a landmark that he associated closely with these happy moments. 

After moving back to Singapore permanently in 2012, Mr Tam experienced another momentous occasion at the airport – the warm reception he and his teammates from the Singapore Men’s National Softball Team received after clinching a gold medal at the 2019 Southeast Asian Games. 

“I can still vividly remember being welcomed back by families and friends in a sea of red and white at Terminal 1’s arrival hall. That was an experience like none other,” recalls the 26-year-old. 

More on this topic: Working at the airport taught this CAG scholar what it means to be adaptable in fast-changing world

These joyful memories had an indelible impact on him. They were also what motivated him to apply for the Changi Airport Group (CAG) Undergraduate Scholarship for his studies at the National University of Singapore, where he pursued a Bachelor of Science in Business Analytics. 

“I wanted to join CAG so that I could share the same feelings of joy with every traveller who comes through Changi Airport,” he says.

Using data to create value

Mr Tam’s fondness for Changi Airport also stems from its good customer service and high standards of cleanliness. He cites processes like the use of data analytics to minimise check-in time which has helped the airport efficiently pre-board passengers and improve travellers’ overall experience at the airport.

His keen interest in data, which originates from his fascination with using it to effect outcomes in competitive sports like softball and baseball, is what he hopes to eventually leverage to benefit CAG. 

“With the data I collect, I want to analyse it and use it to create value for people and organisations,” he says. 

Mr Tam had his first experience tapping on the power of data when he worked as a data analytics intern under the iChangi application team in 2021. He was involved in enhancing the app, which provides customers with travel information and options to purchase duty-free items. In particular, Mr Tam was tasked with designing suitable performance metrics for the app to evaluate its performance and gather insights. 

“I conducted an analysis of consumer shopping behaviours based on past data, categorised purchasing patterns into specific groups, and developed a logic that the system will follow for users of the iChangi app,” he says.

This helped the team to understand customers’ behaviours and devise methodologies that can augment their purchasing experiences.

“I hope to be part of the spark in instigating digital innovation at Changi Airport Group.”

Mr Joshua Tam, recipient of the CAG Undergraduate Scholarship

Building the airport of the future 

With CAG’s support, Mr Tam is currently pursuing a Master of Science in the Management of Information Systems and Digital Innovation at the University of Warwick. 

He hopes his studies will help him better connect the dots between technology and related fields so he can formulate innovative solutions to tackle business issues when he eventually becomes a full-time staff at CAG.

“As Covid-19 hit CAG harder than any other economic crisis, the company saw the need to enhance their digital platforms and spark digital transformation across the organisation,” he explains.

“The modules taught in my postgraduate studies are highly relevant and aligned with CAG’s road map in digital transformation, while niche topics like blockchain and digital finance will enrich my technical knowledge,” he adds.

He looks forward to being involved with CAG’s plans for a unified data organisation. This will provide the company with readily available data for analysis and machine learning to help improve the customer experience at Changi Airport.

I hope to be part of the spark in instigating digital innovation at CAG,” says Mr Tam.

Know what you want
For students applying for a scholarship, Mr Joshua Tam shares these tips:

Intern with the company: Mr Tam’s internship helped him to appreciate what he has been learning in his course while narrowing down what he wanted to do in the future.

Make sure your goals are aligned: When he was applying for the CAG scholarship, Mr Tam thought of what he wanted to be in the long run and how this synchronised with CAG’s corporate mission. Then he explored how CAG could provide him with the environment and opportunity to get there.

Expect a holistic application process: Mr Tam was given tasks that challenged him intellectually while also testing his leadership skills and personal qualities. “The assessors were sincere in finding out what kind of a person I am, and how I overcame various obstacles in life. Companies like CAG are more interested to know who you really are than who you think they want you to be,” he says.

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