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Finding the right berth

The port of Singapore has played a significant role in the country’s development.

Today, the maritime sector contributes about 7 per cent to Singapore’s Gross Domestic Product.

It was the industry’s importance as well as its diverse and vibrant nature that drew Mr Marcus Teo to a scholarship and career with the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA). He felt certain that, at MPA, he would experience a wide range of job scopes and build an interesting and fulfilling career.

Many hats
Says Mr Teo: “As the national maritime agency, enforcing port regulations to ensure safety at sea is just one of many hats that MPA wears.

“MPA is also the national port planner to ensure that sufficient port capacity is catered for future demand, a promoter and champion of the Singapore maritime industry, as well as the voice of Singapore at international and regional fora to safeguard our national interest.”

He applied for a scholarship while he was still doing his National Service and on an overseas training stint. Not many organisations were able to schedule an interview and written test for him.

However, MPA officers handling his application went out of their way to arrange a suitable time for him to undergo the necessary tests.

“This made me feel welcome and valued even before I had officially stepped through MPA’s doors,” he recalls.

Opportunities came his way even before he embarked on his Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical Engineering) course at the National University of Singapore.

Mr Teo was given a threemonth pre-university internship opportunity at a shipping company.

There, he learnt the importance of voyage planning and the many considerations a commercial entity would have to ensure that operations remain profitable.

The highlight of the internship was a three-day trip on board one of the vessels. It was an eye-opening experience as he was able to observe the shipping operations and experience the life of a seafarer on board a voyage.

He also went on an overseas exchange to Grenoble, France, thanks to MPA’s sponsorship.

Opening doors
At work, the scholar has been given numerous opportunities. These include the chance to expand his knowledge beyond his core work and develop holistically, like performing the secretariat role at various committees and going on overseas work trips for greater exposure.

In his five years on the job, Mr Teo has been rotated to a few divisions both within and outside MPA that allowed him to experience a wide spectrum of job roles.

He spent close to three years in his first posting in the port policy division.

There, he worked with key stakeholders such as port terminal operators and port services companies to ensure the efficient delivery of essential services to port users and help maintain Singapore’s status as the choice port of call. Next came a two-year secondment to the air transport division in the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, where he honed his negotiation and lobbying skills.

During this time, he had the privilege of being part of a Singapore delegation on an official trip to Turkey that was headed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Today, the 30-year-old is a senior manager for industry manpower development in MPA.

He develops and implements manpower policies for the maritime sector together with his colleagues.

His team was also instrumental in the launch and implementation of various SkillsFuture initiatives for the sector.

Mr Teo highlights that a career in MPA is not all about work. Through an inclusive culture and bonding occasions like family days and appreciation events, colleagues from various divisions get together and interact with senior management as well.

“I have developed many meaningful friendships through the course of my work in MPA,” he says.