Kenneth Teo Kian Hao
Deputy Manager, Airport Operations
Whilst I was educated as an Engineer, my current job is not the exact role of that of an Engineer. I’m in charge of the running of the operations at the airports that Scoot flies to. The areas include customer service, passenger check-in, baggage acceptance, cargo loading and unloading operations, ground safety and security regulations, etc. That said, the skills set that I obtained from the Engineering course in NUS was put into good use. In operations, it is often described as dealing with a complex system of ever-changing components. Engineers are trained to solve problems and operations require just that, only in a very dynamic environment.
How I got my job
Scoot is a unique organisation. It is fun-loving, casual with some quirkiness. The irony of it all, is that the industry we are in is a pretty serious one, where millions of dollars and many lives are at stake in each operation. Therefore, the individual that gets employed must be one who knows when and where to have fun and yet at the same time understand that there are certain guiding principles in the things we do. For example, in the area of Safety, there is no compromise. One of the question asked during my interview was “What regrets do you have in your life? What did you do about it?” Man, that is one philosophical question. With my education as an engineer, I know that there are many ways to solve a problem. The logical and rational self in me will tell me that there ae no regrets at all in my life as any obstacles are just learning opportunities for the future. Yet, it might be unwise to appear arrogant and self-righteous to claim that I have not had any regrets in my life, ever. At the end, I adopted the “passenger handling” approach – make a stand and watch for the facial expression of the interviewer and subsequently explain why I am making that stand. At the end of the day, I got the job.
The highs and lows
In operations, we can plan for all situations but at times, things do not go as planned. At the airport, we are dealing with passengers – people with feelings. When flights get delayed or even cancelled, passengers may get a little emotional and in some extremes, passengers may take it out on the service staff and that is where we will have to step in. No one loves to be in that situation, however, because of what we stand for, we need to inconvenience the passengers just so that Safety and Security are never compromised.
The high side of the job is when you see certain new policies or new procedures being implemented on the ground are yielding greater efficiency. These policies or procedures do not get crafted overnight but they are well thought through processes, often developed after weeks or months of surveying and analysing, conducting time-motion studies, etc. The satisfaction comes from the fact that you know what you’ve learnt from NUS - the key engineering principles and all, actually do deliver results at the work place!
My happiest moment at work
Scoot just started work on a slew of passenger self-service initiatives. These projects target at driving efficiency up which is essential in this very competitive aviation industry. I am honoured to be part of the project team and the greatest joy is to see these initiatives being implemented and ultimately, cutting down on valuable resources to achieve the same results. Most of these initiatives make use of technology and with new technology being developed daily, one can only imagine what the future would be. As Dr Moshin Tiwana once put it “Projects we have completed demonstrate what we know – future projects decide what we will learn.”
Never be afraid of learning. I remember being clueless about operations when I first joined the industry. To better equip myself with the knowledge of the business, I took it upon myself to spend some extra hours on the ground. Was very fortunate to have very good mentors who were very willing to share with me their knowledge. During my initial years, starting my day at the airport at 3am and ending only at 10pm were not unheard of. Of course, that did not happen every day!