Daryl Ong Fu Zheng
Deputy Engineering Maintenance Manager
I graduated with a Bachelor Degree in Aerospace Engineering with a Business minor in 2016 and joined SMRT’s Engineering and Management Associates (EMA) programme the next year. Starting with a structured two-month foundation training, the EMA programme offers continuous development and job rotations leading to professional accreditation.
It set a clear career path for me with an attractive remuneration package. My first position in SMRT was an Executive Engineer on the Circle Line signal field service team.
About my role
My job is to ensure that the maintenance of the signalling equipment in the Circle Line (West region) is carried out daily and to make sure the maintenance office is always ready and well equipped to carry out rectification works whenever necessary. I am constantly challenged to learn because the entire signalling system is vast and complex, and there are always new problems to troubleshoot.
I encountered a steep learning curve being new to the transport industry. I had to pick up new knowledge and jargons quickly and I managed to overcome this with the help of my experienced colleagues. Being inquisitive, I raised questions frequently and learnt new things from them.
Another challenge I faced was people management. As a fresh graduate, I started out as Executive Engineer and was recently appointed as Deputy Engineering Maintenance Manager. On the field service team, I manage a group of more senior and experienced staff who have served in the company for a long time. I realised the importance of building trust and rapport.
I would speak to them personally to understand their concerns at work and help them find solutions to make their work more effective and efficient. I would also accompany them occasionally during the night shift to experience the challenges faced and work with them to resolve the challenges.
Most memorable achievement
I was involved in organising SMRT’s Technical Advisory Panel conference. The two-day event was held at SMRT headquarters. As a member of the organising committee, my role was to plan and arrange logistics for our overseas delegates. During the event, we also worked as scribes to record and summarise important issues discussed by the panel, which comprised major industry players such as the Tokyo Metro.
It was an eye-opener for me to learn about the plans of individual departments, and the overall direction for SMRT in the coming year. At the end of the event, we collated the panel’s feedback for presentation to the SMRT board.
Essential skills in my job
Being adaptable and willing to learn is crucial. We must be able to respond and handle different situations appropriately, especially for SMRT, which serves the public. Having a problem solving mindset and being able to think out of the box are crucial as we face complex issues in maintenance works.
Last but not least, having good people management skills is important, to communicate effectively and understand both subordinates and managers.
Advice for graduates
Be curious and open to suggestions. There are a lot of things to learn in the transport industry.