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Riding the waves of change

When she was 18, Ms Melinda Chan chanced upon the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) Overseas Scholarship at a fair held at Raffles Junior College, where she was a student.

It immediately appealed to her, as her mother, who used to work in PSA Singapore, would tell her about the port and terminals when she was little.

“Whenever we passed by the city terminals and saw non-operating quay cranes, my mother would tell me that we should always ensure that there were no ‘giraffes’ in the terminals, as that would be a signal that Singapore’s economy was doing well,” says Ms Chan, 24.

Her friends and family encouraged her to take up the MPA scholarship, which offers opportunities to study at world-class universities, work on overseas assignments and build experience in the maritime industry.

Relevant Exposure

The MPA scholarship helped to cover Ms Chan’s tuition fees at University College London in the United Kingdom, where she pursued a degree in mathematics with economics.

Her education gave her a holistic and a well-rounded view of the industry, which enabled her to hit the ground running upon graduation.

During her internship at MPA where she interacted with various stakeholders, she learnt about the different operations and processes within the organisation, and participated in activities by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London.

“In my final year, we had the opportunity to help out at an IMO event where we got to meet delegates from all over the world. We interacted with transport ministers from various countries — not something you get to do often,” she says.

Tides Of Change

As a manager of industry and capability development in MPA’s Research and Technology and Development (RTID) division, Ms Chan is part of the team helping to usher in a digital revolution at MPA and Singapore’s maritime industry.

The RTID division is responsible for transforming the maritime cluster through initiatives and programmes that support digital innovation.

“I hope to be an integral part of the digital transformation of Maritime Singapore to be futureready. The maritime industry is on the cusp of an amazing and large transformation, and Singapore is in a good position to lead that change,” she says.

It is a testament to Singapore’s success in staying ahead on the global maritime stage, as it was named top maritime capital of the world by Norwegian consultancy firm Menon Economics in April last year.

It marks the third consecutive time Singapore has clinched the title, and recognises the nation’s success in adopting digitalisation.

Ms Chan’s background in computing and personal interest in the decentralised ledger technology have helped to achieve success in her primary duty — to develop Singapore’s maritime ecosystem to support digitalisation efforts, and drive the initiative to grow the blockchain ecosystem in other areas.

This involves mapping the programme plan, analysing applications and executing industry-wide events to provide an enabling environment for the adoption of this and other new technologies.

Smart Moves

Introducing change at a large organisation such as MPA is no easy feat, but Ms Chan has been involved in various initiatives to prep the maritime industry for a smart revolution.

She was involved in the planning and execution of the upcoming Maritime Technology Accelerator Programme (MTAP).

The programme is the result of a partnership with NUS Enterprise. It involves the upcoming Smart Port Challenge, acceleration programme and ecosystem building activities to attract and connect start-ups to

industry partners. MPA will also be providing funding support and mentorship to the start-ups and a space at BLK71 Singapore, a co-working space at Ayer Rajah Crescent.

“It has been a tedious process, but also challenging and dynamic. I enjoyed it very much,” she adds.

Ms Chan was also involved in MPA’s Maritime Innovation and Technology (MINT) Fund Call for Proposals. The annual grant scheme provides funding to local companies looking to carry out innovation and technology development in the maritime industry.

She was in charge of gathering the industry’s problem statements and mapping out the technology areas MPA is looking to develop.

“It was challenging and exciting. The focus areas identified by MPA not only provide a signal to the industry about its vision and goal for the next generation port, but also what it thinks the digitalisation and technology landscape would look like for the maritime industry,” she says.

Ms Chan has received many opportunities to excel in her career with mentorship from a talented and forward-thinking team, as MPA continues to build and develop capabilities internally as well.

She hopes to continue to learn about the broader fields in the industry.